Hamilton’s Open Office

Hamilton's main office was at 7 DuPont Circle in Washington, D.C. The offices were located on DuPont Circle in a second floor loft that looked over the circle, with fountains and trees. With large windows all around that opened, the sunshine and fresh air resonated with Hamilton's mission statement "to liquefy and make accessible." 

Hamilton's office reflected our effort to redesign the physical space of an investment bank/broker dealer for the integration of advanced digital technology, the open culture that can grow up around employee ownership and the impact of a learning organizational design on the creation of a "shared intelligence." 

The office design won an award in 1997 from the AIA-American Institute for Architecture for Advanced Technology Facility design. 

Inside, the offices were open and reflected the transparency with which most information, including internal financial information, was shared. Integration of the telephone and computer system meant that your phone and computer simply moved to that workstation when you typed in your password. In fact, when MCI wanted to use the same system in their offices in DC, they sent a team of people over to meet with the Hamilton's systems team who had designed the integrated network with a prototyping team from AT&T. Large tv/video/computer monitors on the trading floor and in the conference rooms made group and team collaboration easier. 

The office seated only 35 people, but all seats in the conference rooms and the kitchen supported laptops and could transform to 75 workstations by the many people who came in and out of the offices or who were consultants and dedicated professionals who supported all projects on an outsourced basis. The hoteling concept was supported with lockers and storage buckets.

Heavy database and software development created significant demand for high quality data servicing work, inspiring Hamilton's invention and investment in Edgewood Technology Services and negotiations to outsource software development to several groups in China. Hamilton was designed to never have more than 50 people in a hoteling concept, with substantial workflow handled by outsourcing. That is why every month Hamilton published a "Pocket Directory" for its network, which became a very useful tool for many in the housing industry. 

Special cleaning and support services were provided by Partners In Grime, led by Ozzie Blake, now Solari's Treasurer, for Eunice Boston, the President of Partners In Grime. The offices were spotless, one of the conditions necessary to support the lower per square foot available to each employee in this type of design. Every Sunday Ozzie loaded up the kitchen with amazing home cooked lunches that made Monday's a happy high energy day at Hamilton. 

The Kitchen was named the Mo Eisley Cantina, after the bar in Star Wars. Everyone's favorite feature of the kitchen after Ozzie's awesome cooking was the quote wall that included quotes from Tina Turner, Winston Churchill, Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King, Albert Einstein, Babe Ruth, and, of course, Alexander Hamilton, whose words were also etched into the curved glass in the front as you entered into the lobby.

The space cost per person was lower than HUD's internal costs when Catherine worked there during the Bush Administration. Nevertheless, the beauty of the design offended some. This was despite the DuPont Circle location over a CVS Pharmacy. No one had wanted the loft space over a drug store, which is how Hamilton managed to get it. When we leased it, one of the leading attorneys in Washington called Catherine and told her that this space was unacceptable, that businesses did not go into places like this, that it would ruin Hamilton's reputation. Nevertheless, when it was done, the beauty and functionality was a magnet for clients and visitors and strategic partners who loved to come to the space. 

When HUD seized the offices in March of 1998, substantial damage was done to the offices. One of Hamilton's attorneys was in the office one day watching it happen and then joined Catherine later and said, “You know, my family left Nazi Germany to get away from this. Now that it is here, where do I go now?” The effort that it took to clean the office after the government left was substantial. It was clear that the destruction had been intentional.

The offices were across the street from Kramer's Book Store, who received a subpoena from Ken Starr at the same time that Hamilton's auctioneer received its subpoena.  Our offices were also across the street from a Starbucks, which was identified as the location where the INS lawyer who disappeared that year was said to be last seen. We were four blocks away from Catherine's home Fraser Court, where Solari started up in 1998 after we were forced out of DuPont Circle, and where we experienced the worst and most dangerous surveillance and harassment until Fraser Court was sold, and Solari moved its offices to our church were we found sanctuary. 

So we were in the heart of Washington, DC. 

The office has since been leased to an internet radio start up. Whenever we drive by we can see the quote wall through the window, including one of our favorite from Winston:

We have not journeyed all this way across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy.

— Winston Churchill


To see pictures of Hamilton's office, click here.

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