By: Austin North
Photos By: Peter Svarzbein
Working Capitol is unlike other co-working spaces in El Paso—with a membership program that also allows public access and with unique amenities, the space exudes an air of aesthetically engaging professionalism and productivity. Owner Christopher Esper’s background in architecture and hospitality makes him the perfect curator of Working Capitol, emphasizing design qualities as much as amenities and services. “I was looking at the office as a design problem. Now technology is changing the physical landscape of what an office is,” said Christopher. After researching the future of work as a whole and how it is changing in graduate school, he moved to southeast Asia to gain experience in luxury hospitality and hospitality technology. Having moved back to his hometown of El Paso to practice architecture now, Christopher was looking for opportunity.
“I always wanted to come back to my hometown El Paso, and I was looking to do something that I don’t just get hired for—I put it together from A to Z,” said Christopher. The process began with the property, with a focus on the many historic buildings that El Paso is fortunate to have. “The goal was to find the property, develop it, design it and build it, and now we’re operating.” Unlike other co-working spaces that can be found tucked away, hidden from the public on upper floors of office buildings, Working Capitol is a ground floor, open co-working space. “We wanted a real address, and a good building to facilitate meetings with clients and members,” Christopher explained. The space was a beautiful historic building that was covered up and added on to overtime—”There are old arches that were part of a 100-year-old system. We went through this whole process of showing the brick, keeping it clean and industrial.” Also found on the space now are some 100-year-old factory windows from Dallas, and they pushed in part of the building to create a patio where there will be a restaurant adjacent in the future. “It’s an open view, but its playing into the old aesthetic of the building,” he said. Simultaneously, Christopher was looking at the building from a programming standpoint. Questions such as, what makes the most sense with this space to allow the proper amount of sunlight, or the proper amount of quietness, played a part in the internal layout, which has resulted in a variety of different spaces for people to work in within the building. “Each attracts a different style of entrepreneur.”
When it comes to members and clients, there’s plenty of diversity. Co-working spaces often cater to the knowledge economy—people in the tech industry, digital content creators, etc., though Christopher said, “I wanted to first focus on professional services—law, insurance, architecture, etc…That may be the core tenant, but it has allowed us financially to welcome solo entrepreneurs too, from photographers and web designers to life-coaches and more—creative and transient types of solo venturists. As mentioned before, the different types of workspaces in the building attract different clients, as Christopher said, “The work desks and the suites go side-by-side with different demographics.” That said, they have a strong core of professional services, from a Farmers Insurance agent to the Lone Star Title central office to Splendid Sun Productions, and more. All of that said, the major thing Christopher emphasizes is that they have a public component to our space—Salt and Honey Cafe. “It’s an amenity that invites the public right into our lobby,” and he explains that it allows the professional public to mingle with members to facilitate more organic professional matchmaking. “It lowers the barriers of entry for professionals to market themselves.”
Other notable unique resources include seamless cloud printing, design-wise, and advanced security measures to allow both the public to have access at the proper times, and the members to have their own access times as well. The building is genuinely unique and quite beautiful, and the incentive to use the space is immense with amenities taken into account—head down to Working Capitol to see for yourself, enjoy the cafe, and consider becoming a member to make the most of it.