Sprint Health Accelerator

Design at Work News

Mike Sinclair

You already know Silicon Valley, but what about Silicon Prairie? In Kansas City, Missouri, a host of start-ups have followed in the footsteps of Google Fiber’s 1 gigabyte internet service. Seeking to cash in on this synergy, mobile telecommunications giant Sprint partnered with Boulder, Colorado-based Techstars to create its very first (it is Techstars’ 10th similar facility) startup incubator and mentorship program, Sprint Accelerator, that uniquely focuses on mobile health technology.

To meet the challenging demands of this high-intensity collaboration, local firm Rees Masilionis Turley Architecture (RMTA) designed the space with an eye to encourage technological innovation and entrepreneurship.

Located in the heart of Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District, RMTA’s 12,000-square-foot renovation of a 1903 ice house into a dynamic co-working space truly echoes the mission of its client: creativity, innovation, diversity, and speed to market. “Everything about the space was designed to inspire creativity and collaboration,” said Matt Murphy, project manager for RMTA.

The Sprint Accelerator preserved elements of the old building and left them exposed. New insertions combine an informal start-up atmosphere with the polish of an established brand.

The walls, countertops, and tabletops of the space function as dry erase boards so that ideas can be jotted down at will. Small gathering spaces act as conversation nodes with comfortable seating and data and power ports to encourage impromptu interactions. The design balances active collaboration areas with space for privacy and relaxation required in such high-intensity work environments. “Sprint desired an environment to inspire and advocate work-life balance; a place where people would want to be,” said Murphy.

To that end, the space includes the toys that 21st Century tech companies use to attract Millennials: shuffleboard, beer taps, foosball, ping pong, etc. It also includes a confessional room to vent after working 40 hours straight and a historic telephone booth painted Sprint yellow and modified with all the latest gadgets for those times when you just want to lock yourself in a box and work alone.



Kimball Office
Pinnacle Architectural Lighting
Plumbing fixtures


RMTA left the building’s original brick, timber beams, and hardwood floors exposed. Building on this industrial loft theme, the stud framing was left open and translucent polycarbonate panels are used to divide the space while allowing natural daylight to filter through.

Modern accents were added with furnishings, hexagonal floor tiles acting as wayfinding through the subtle use of gradation and color, and a twist on corporate branding with the Sprint logo relief cut out of the drywall. “We knew we had to make a delicate, modern design incision within the space that would not overwhelm the history of the building,” explained Murphy.

The real test of the space is the hardware and software that the startups create within it. The first crop of 10 select startups graduated after their rigorous three-month program this past summer and two of the companies relocated to Kansas City after connecting with financial and professional backing. The sophomore class is set to begin in the spring of 2015.

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