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A lot has changed for Vice Media CEO Shane Smith and his crew in the past few years, including their home office. The company has grown its edgy, youthful website into a $4 billion media brand, with new TV channel Viceland, a weekly HBO docuseries, an upcoming daily news show on the cable network and continually expanding digital properties. All of this prompted Vice to hunt for more space.
The search became so desperate that Vice considered moving away from its stomping ground in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg, but instead — fortunately for its 1,000 employees, many of whom live nearby — Smith decided on undertaking gut renovations of several lots in the neighborhood that were once part of the iconic Domino Sugar plant. “It’s right across from where everything happens, Manhattan,” says Smith, 46. “I always love the juxtaposition of being in Brooklyn, which was sort of forgotten for a long time but yet it’s literally one stop from the center of the universe.”
Smith was photographed June 16 at the Vice offices in Brooklyn.
The Williamsburg office sits just across the East River from Manhattan.
With the just-opened, 75,000-square foot headquarters — which feature more than 125 video editing suites, two living rooms, a commercial-grade kitchen, an expansive lobby with glass garage doors opening to a roof garden with views of the Manhattan skyline, a Coney Island-style outdoor boardwalk and more — the office is one-part super production facility, one-part players’ paradise. Smith, who shuttles between this office and the one Vice opened in Venice, Calif., two years back (which has nearly doubled in size over the last year), has brought along mementos like a stuffed bear head from his many foreign trips to go alongside other objects including a Gibson baby grand piano, an authentic saloon bar, a DJ booth and what are touted as the world’s finest horn speakers.
As for the message this all sends for a company that aims to appeal to millennials, Smith shrugs off naysayers who worry Vice is too big to stay cool. “Everyone has been prophesying our doom, saying, ‘However big you get, you’re going to die because cool is by definition small.’ Well, we don’t want to be cool. The content has never been better.”
Vice Media employs more than 1,000 employees, many of whom live in Brooklyn.
The offices boast a commercial-grade kitchen.
A complex sound system, touted as the world’s finest horn speakers, in one of the office’s public work areas.
Smith brings back many objects, like the stuffed bear, from his world travels.
The Williamsburg office takes up several lots that were formerly part of the iconic Domino Sugar plant.
A garden grows in Vice’s outdoor area.
A version of this story first appeared in the July 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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