Agency Insider: Two by Four

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"Agency Insider" is a series of articles about Chicago Agencies from the people that work in those agencies.

Two by Four Chicago is housed on Dearborn Street in the heart of Chicago’s loop in the former ballroom levels of a Chicago social club popular over the 20s through 80s. Called the Covenant Club, renowned guests included President Truman, Eleanor Roosevelt, Maria Callas and Al Capone—or so it’s rumored. Before we moved in, the space was leased by a bank. We were fortunate to work with design and architecture firm Gensler to help restore the space to its former glory—tearing up the carpet, taking down ceiling fixtures and highlighting the original crown moldings, while modernizing it and adapting it to our work style. We specifically sought out a unique environment that would be a major contributor to our culture post-renovation.

Here, ideas can’t hide—good and bad ones. We have large-scale modular metal walls throughout where we are constantly putting up work with magnets for creative review. Other walls are covered top to bottom with IdeaPaint to promote frequent brainstorming. We’ve created several comfortable couch and work areas for people to get away from their desks to think and relax.

We have a lodge room, which features an antler chandelier, fireplace and wall-to-wall wood—because it’s awesome to have a lodge. And we represent several clients in the Western industry, so it’s kind of fitting.

The two-story ballroom rotunda is lovely to look at, but it’s also great for fun and games. Every summer we hold a whiffle ball home-run derby where we battle another local agency for fabulous prizes and a championship trophy. The goal is to hit the ball from the 9th floor up over the railings of the 10th floor. Prizes include all expense paid trips, free days off, gift certificates and more. Last year we bested DraftFCB in a closely contended match. Who wants to take us on next year? We’ve held paper airplane contests, created an open air helium balloon fishtank, as well as piñata parties, taking advantage of the added height.

Every December, we transform the office back to its ballroom roots—creating a massive dance floor over the cubicles, where party chaos ensues. The 2012 theme was White Christmas, where guests dressed in head to toe white.

A few other factoids:

We have a wall-to-ceiling chalkboard on the other side of our 800-pound entrance door, which allows us to take weekly staff polls. In order to get the door up here, it had to be made and installed in three equal sections.

Founder and Executive Creative Director David Stevenson created the conference room table himself out of two by fours, of course.

Two by Four Chicago has approximately 35 employees. Office address is 10 N. Dearborn, Suite 1000.

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