Society Of Grownups

Society of Grownups, 1653 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA
The flow of the experience is critical, a process worked out through the multiple prototypes Hacin and his firm created. Initially, when people entered SOG there was a pour-over coffee station. However, it took too much time, so the option was nixed and now people just stop in the nearby coffee store if they want a java fix. Having flexibility within a structure is critical says Hacin. “We need to create zones for different functions.”

Society of Grownups, 1653 Beacon Street, Brookline, MAMassMutual has cooked up something so delish, it’s being consumed by all ages. Located in the heart of Brookline, MA, Society of Grownups (SOG) is striking at the heart of how people deal with money, one of the most complex issues in life.

As consumers, millennials want experiences, authenticity and gratification, hardly a recipe associated with insurance sales. However, in 2011, MassMutual contacted Michael Hendrix of IDEO to create a program that targeted millennials to buy life insurance.

He challenged the client’s approach. “This wasn’t creating a regular store to buy something,” says Hendrix. “It wasn’t about buying anything. It’s about gaining knowledge.” Melding office demands, a social gathering location and prime retail location into one structure catapulted Hacin into uncharted territory.

Society of Grownups, 1653 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA“They have an idea and when I get to implementing it, it becomes a journey,” he says. However, rather than create one dominant element, Hacin balanced the structure’s design to its multiple uses. “We like to create a clean, clear environment that allows the product or idea to be showcased.”

The multiple functions for the SOG building required Hacin to embrace innovative approaches from large structural challenges to the tiniest of details.

Traditional offices with closed doors were seen as barriers for people who were being subtly convinced they should be seeking financial advice, yet privacy was a necessity. Hacin’s solution was to install big, sliding glass panel doors that can open wide, or slide and create smaller offices.

“They add character and allow them to transform the site,” he says. “You see what’s going on and it creates a sense of transparency.”

Understanding a comprehensive approach to function in a brand new concept can be a challenge. The architect even had everyone in his office – from receptionists to the founding architect – attend a SOG class about credit cards. The anonymity of entering answers on phones, which then show up as charts in the front of the class, allowed easy participation without invading privacy. The setup allowed them to experience SOG and better understand the multiple ways the building functioned.

“I don’t think anyone left that class who did not benefit from some aspect of the experience,” says Hacin. “The information was really valuable.”

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