First Look: NeueHouse, Hollywood’s New Work and Play Space

Joshua Abram and Tim Geary
Noah Webb

“Networking can feel like death. We want to create moments where things happen organically,” says Joshua Abram (right), photographed with Tim Geary at NeueHouse on Oct. 1.

A chic, work-centered answer to Soho House debuts its historic Sunset Boulevard location as screenwriters and startup visionaries get ready to rub elbows.

A version of this story first appeared in the Oct. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

"We don't yet have a good way of explaining what we've been creating," says Joshua Abram, one of the founders of NeueHouse Hollywood, the invite-only co-working and social space for creative-class small businesses — think Soho House crossed with WeWork. "It's a rethinking of the experience around work, an essay on the new way to work," he adds, as he and Alan Murray, also a founder, barrel through a hard-hat tour of the six-story, 70,000-plus-square-foot expanse (not including outdoor terraces) several months before its October opening. Even just days before that target, when THR returns to photograph Abram and global membership director Tim Geary, this new incarnation of the 1938 CBS Columbia Square property on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood is still very much under construction. A comment by Murray may explain why: "Our members are thinking, 'I'm not necessarily jones­ing for the corner office, but I care deeply about the environment that I work in, its meticulous design.' "

The original NeueHouse location, which bowed in Manhattan in 2013 and was crafted, like the L.A. space, by David Rockwell (known for his work on Nobu restaurants worldwide), quickly became the kind of nexus where Ann Curry, Paul Bettany and Meg Ryan popped in to work on their laptops, and Island Records founder Chris Blackwell would cross paths with Charlie Rose executive producer Yvette Vega. "I don't think we're just going to be the home for traditional Hollywood celebrity," says Geary, who held the same position at Soho House until he resigned last year (his former boss Nick Jones told THR in March that a Soho House-affiliated co-working concept in L.A. is in the works). "It's not where a Jessica Alba starts up her production company. It's where she starts up her healthy-baby-products company."

The clubhouse's industrial-but-relaxed aesthetic, heavy on white marble and silver-toned metals, is meant to foster both creativity and interaction. "When you get it right," explains Murray of the atmosphere, "it's like the home of an indulgent friend who says, 'Come on over and hang out — if you want to hang out forever, and just work from here, that's great.' " The ground floor's cavernous Studio A — where the pilot for I Love Lucy was shot — is a two-story theater with deployable bleachers for events. Old recording studios, including one where The Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" was recorded, will become conference rooms.

Annual membership starts at "several thousand dollars," says Geary: Some members will pay more for a dedicated office space for themselves and staffers; others can opt for Gallery memberships that don't offer fixed seats (Geary anticipates about 1,500 Hollywood members; Murray avows that half of the businesses housed there will be female-owned). After-work programs — the Manhattan location has seen talks by the likes of Arianna Huffington and Werner Herzog — foster bonding. "You won't find the poseurs you see at coffee shops," says NYC member JL Pomeroy, CEO of event and branding firm JumpLine Group and producer of the Saturday Night Live documentary Live From New York! "It's an international first-class travel lounge meets office — on crack."