Startup Spaces: Omaha Code School finds home in Little Bohemia
Omaha Code School grew up somewhat an orphan. Cousins Sumeet Jain and Rahul Gupta had the idea and put it together so quickly that one of Omaha's first code schools didn't even have time to find a home…
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About the author: The Turnstone Tip is authored by Jenny Gauld, space planner for turnstone.
Omaha Code School grew up somewhat an orphan.
It’s first short-term location was in Omaha’s trendy restaurant and shopping district, Midtown Crossing. The School made a makeshift classroom inside a gigantic space, which was used to house a furniture store.
But after its first class, Jain has had time to breathe and find a permanent place his students—1258 S. 13th St., a building formerly occupied by nonprofit inCOMMON. They jumped on it a bit impulsively he admits, but said he still loves the choice.
The school moved in early June, remodeled and opened just in time for Code School’s second class that began July 28.
Beth Haubert, Jain’s wife who was recently-hired to help coordinate Code School and other duties, helped decorate the space. She said she comes from a spatial design background.
“We had a good shell to work with and did what we could with a limited budget. But working with a low budget — that’s my specialty,” she said. “I’m really passionate about local art. So I reached out to local artists who could do big pieces for us.
“For me, overall it was about making the space comfortable for students. They’ll be living here for 12 weeks at a time, working in groups, pairs, alone. There needs to be a lot of little niches.”
And there are a lot of niches.
The building is about 3,000 square feet, considerably smaller than the 8,000-square-foot space they were in, but the new building has an open-air loft that serves as a classroom while the first floor will serve as work and event space. It will also be the place for the twice-weekly yoga classes for the students.
Christmas lights and two skylights give the long, narrow building with brick walls and worn wood floors, plenty of light.
The first floor has large movable walls, painted by local artists, that help section off some of the space and helps reduce the noise.
There’s plenty of seating options from one to two person school desks to large meeting tables and there’s a few comfortable chairs and couches, too.
Art from Tres Johnson, Patty Talbert and Gerard Pefung helped provide the art.
Jain and Haubert said they were excited to build their own identity.
“We didn’t want the drop ceilings or corporate feel,” Jain said. “This place feels lived in and has character and a historic past.”
It once house The Gem Theatre and later the Blue Barn Theatre before InCOMMON took over the place. Haubert hopes to create some sort of plaque or other marker to denote the building’s history.
Jain said the neighborhood was a unique draw, too. He said there’s not too many other places like it, with large sidewalks, big trees and a vibrant, diverse set of businesses from the Donut Stop next door, to the Bohemian Café, Ethnic Sandwich shop, antique dealers, vacuum repair shops,a Christian college, coffee shop, yoga studio and a branding and marketing agency within a few blocks.
“It’s really one of the underrated neighborhoods of Omaha,” Jain said. “I know I haven’t explored it much yet, but it could be the next Dundee, Benson or Old Market.
“It reminds me a lot of San Francisco [where he used to live] with the large trees, walkability and vibrancy with all types of businesses and people.”
Nearly 20 students and staff will be at Code School when it is in session, but Jain hopes to make it a startup community meeting spot, too. He also may look into making it a co-working spot.
You can check out the space during an open house on Aug. 29.
“Omaha Code School is doing more than teaching students computer skills—they’re creating an environment with a variety of settings tailored to the needs of their students. They’ve hit a homerun with the many well-defined breakout areas anchored by rugs and ottomans; it’s obvious that students eat together, collaborate in nooks and work side-by-side in class, creating a real sense of community.
Not only does their bright artwork draw attention to the local culture, it reinforces OCS’s commitment to creating culture within their space. It’s placed strategically, utilizing the full height of their walls and other vertical planes, while brick walls and original wood floors juxtapose nicely, adding old-school character.
If Omaha Code School was looking for ways to turn up the volume even more, we’d recommend incorporating a few standing height Big Tables to get people on their feet throughout the day. Turnstone Big Lamps would position perfectly over existing study nooks, creating a cozy feeling in this very open room. To top it off, our Rumble Seats with Hoodies would be a terrific addition for those wanting to hide away in semi-private workplaces.”
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Omaha Code School recently moved to 1258 S. 13th St., a little storefront in Little Bohemia, south of the Old Market and Downtown in Omaha. Code School is next to one of the best donut shops in town, Donut Stop.
Visitors will be welcomed at the front desk by Haubert, a large Omaha Code School mural and… mini dinosaurs in the window. Haubert serves as coordinator of Code School and also helps run Big Wheel Brigade, Jain’s freelance software and website development shop.
Pterodactyls, T-Rex, Stegosaurus and Triceratops hang out on the window sill of Omaha Code School.
The first floor of Omaha Code School has plenty of room to spread out and meet as teams. It will also serve as an event space and maybe even co-working space if the demand is there for it, Jain said.
Haubert said the lockers she bought are one of her favorite pieces for the Code School. They obviously play on the school theme, but also serve as valuable storage space, as the building doesn’t have many closets.
The learning environment was something Jain really wanted to hone. The loft serves as the instruction area while the first floor is perfect for breakout work, he said.
The second floor open air loft has plenty of beautiful natural light thanks to two large skylights, but Jain said it does get a little loud in the classroom when it rains. And Nebraska does have some heavy rains.
Jain rigged a nice setup with a lectern, digital projector, screens and whiteboards in the teaching area. Students sit at folding card tables with office chairs.
This post has been co-authored by our sponsor, turnstone.
Credits: Photos by Michelle Vu.
About our sponsor: turnstone believes that our world needs innovative entrepreneurs and successful small businesses. We champion the idea that intentionally designed spaces and a vibrant office culture play a big role in this success. That’s why we’re committed to making it easier for leaders to leverage space and culture to help their companies thrive.
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