We were approached by the new owner of a building in Norristown, Pennsylvania, with a vision to undertake a warehouse building rehab and full remodeling project. The building, now known as Blu Bear Studios, was a previously unoccupied space that spanned an impressive 8,000 square feet across two stories. Our goal was to transform this former metal fabrication shop into a state-of-the-art media studio on the first floor and create a functional collaborative office space on the second floor. Located just an hour from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the building was poised to become a center for creative minds and collaborators to bring their visions to life.
Although media renovation was a new industry endeavor for our hardworking team, we drew upon our experience in specialty construction projects to successfully complete this venture. Our team's adaptability and expertise, honed through past projects like the BioScrip Infusion Services project, enabled us to tackle the unique challenges of this media studio and office renovation. Furthermore, our prior experience in commercial bathroom renovation and commercial kitchen renovation proved invaluable in executing this project to the highest standards
Our involvement began when the client reached out to us to handle the demolition work and subsequent construction. Our responsibilities included the transformation of the first floor into a fully functional media studio, available for rent for all creative minds, and the creation of a second-floor co-working space.
The first floor of the building was transformed to accommodate the specific needs of a media studio. A significant highlight of this space is the cyclorama room, featuring a custom light frame unit specially designed for filming purposes. The cyclorama room comprises three seamless curved walls, which play a crucial role in filming and are essential for green screens. In addition to the cyclorama room, the first floor also includes a green room, providing talent with a comfortable and private space, as well as a well-equipped fully functional filming kitchen that doubles as an event space.
We were also contracted to renovate the second floor into a functional office space with employee amenities. This area features a large conference room and offers an ideal environment for meetings and collaborative discussions. An employee kitchenette was also installed, ensuring convenience for staff members' breaks and meals. To cater to the evolving needs of businesses, we incorporated a co-working space available for rent. All rental desk spaces have power and internet connections thanks to our core drilling of the floors. The second-floor exterior windows are all brand new, featuring a large custom window that replaced an existing barn door and hoist. This particular window overlooks the neighboring bocce ball court. The new windows help tremendously with keeping the space conditioned in both the summer and winter months.
As part of our commitment to delivering a comprehensive solution, we were also contracted for finishing services. These services entailed the installation of custom glass elements in the second-floor office space and the application of epoxy flooring for durability and aesthetic appeal throughout the building.
Additionally, the project encompassed multiple new bathroom facilities, a new electrical system, and a new heating and cooling system on both the first and second floors.
Despite the initial demolition phase being completed, the construction project faced unforeseen challenges due to the impact of Hurricane Ida. Pennsylvania experienced historic flooding in many areas, including the flooding of the Schuylkill River. This event had notable effects on what is now Blu Bear Studios, which was flooded with five feet of water. The flood caused extensive damage and necessitated a large clean-up project.
Additionally, the existing building was constructed prior to the establishment of current fire codes and occupancy requirements. This necessitated the construction of a new stair tower. However, this task presented challenges due to the size constraints imposed.
Despite these unforeseen obstacles, our team remained committed to delivering a high-quality outcome. The collaboration between our team, the architect, and the engineer proved instrumental in finding innovative solutions that addressed the challenges posed by the weather damage and code restrictions.
As the general contractor for this commercial building renovation project, we implemented effective solutions to ensure success. Our solutions included:
- Swift response to flood damage: We quickly addressed the damage caused by the flood, removing water-damaged drywall and flooring. By promptly demolishing affected areas and power washing the block walls and flooring, we minimized the impact on the project timeline.
- HVAC upgrades: Recognizing the outdated heating system and lack of cooling in the existing building, we installed a new HVAC system. This upgrade ensures the comfort and climate control of the space for its occupants.
- Bright and energy-efficient lighting: Our team installed bright and energy-efficient LED lighting throughout the building. This enhances visibility while reducing energy consumption, contributing to long-term sustainability.
- Plumbing and electrical renovation: We added new bathrooms, constructed the filming kitchen, and employee kitchenette. Additionally, we core drilled the office space floor to enable power connections of desks, facilitating efficient workflow and connectivity.
- Code compliance consulting: Working closely with the architect, engineer, and subcontractors, we navigated the size constraints of the new stair tower placement. Despite the limitations on width, we ensured the stair tower complied with code requirements without compromising the desired aesthetic.
- Epoxy floors: To accommodate the frequent use of the spaces at Blu Bear, we installed sleek epoxy flooring throughout the building. This durable and easy-to-clean flooring solution facilitates the seamless movement of materials and simplifies maintenance.
Throughout the project, we demonstrated our expertise in managing various aspects, from conceptualization and drawings to all construction systems and finishes. Our comprehensive solutions addressed challenges and provided a transformed space that meets code requirements, embraces energy efficiency, and enhances functionality.
Despite the challenges posed by Hurricane Ida and the constraints of a former warehouse building, we successfully completed the commercial building renovation project in less than a year. The results of our efforts are evident today, as Blu Bear Studios stands as an active film set and a thriving workspace for the studio's employees and those renting the co-working areas on the second floor. If you’re looking for a collaborative workspace or need video production space, visit the Blu Bear Studios website.
By undertaking this project, we revitalized a previously unused space, transforming it into a vibrant and functional environment. Blu Bear Studios now serves as a creative hub where talented individuals can bring their visions to life, collaborating and realizing their artistic endeavors. This renovation project has provided opportunities for local workers to engage in meaningful work and contribute to the growth of the film and creative industries in the area.