Hitching posts stand outside the 19th-century horse stable that’s been reinvented as BangallWorks, a coworking and community building that merges modern design with country sensibilities.
The hamlet of Bangall sits in a rustic pocket of northeastern Dutchess County, found at the intersection of winding roads with spectacular views of bucolic hills and expansive estates. At its center, amidst a handful of historic buildings, is BangallWorks. Vibrantly reimagined to serve local residents, the building has become a catalyst for collaboration, productivity, and creativity.
Partners in life and work, Tom Ambler (an architect) and Steve Bruman (a real estate agent) discovered Bangall while searching for a home. “We just loved this historic hamlet,” says Bruman.
The pair purchased and were in the process of renovating a cottage in Bangall, when they learned that the antique red building across the street was in foreclosure, and in danger of falling into disrepair. “We loved it, and we wanted to save it,” Bruman shares.
The c.1867 building encloses a 2,500-square-foot space. Over more than a century, it has been a stable, a deli, a country store, and, most recently, a restaurant. When the partners purchased the structure in 2017, its future was undecided. But after inviting neighbors there to toast the season’s first snow, they realized their mission. Seeing their guests meeting for the first time, Bruman and Ambler decided to create a gathering place that would nurture community and provide a local workspace.
Soon the building was reborn, weaving modern elements with the partners’ own sophisticated design aesthetics.
Visitors step through the storefront entrance to be greeted by colorful paper lanterns—orange, green, blue, and purple—decorating the ceilings of the lounge and adjacent conference area. The lounge—with a working fireplace—is accented with stacks of coffee table books, a flourish of plants, plush velvet throw pillows, and black-and-white photos pinned to the wall. There, BangallWorks members may be found immersed in creative endeavors, such as photo editing and writing.
From the lounge, a wall of antique wood and glass doors open to the light-soaked conference room, with a large oval table and bar area, providing a serene space used for video conference calls; recording podcasts; in-person meetings; and art classes.
Through swinging wooden doors is the former restaurant’s kitchen, where a gut renovation has produced two private workstations—quiet sanctuaries for focus—that are bathed in light; wide windows offer views of Hunns Lake Creek. Out on the lawn, powerful WiFi allows members to work alfresco during the summer, with some setting up camp by the water.
Adjacent to the lounge is the expansive main space, BangallWorks’ focal area, with rustic wooden beams crisscrossing beneath a vaulted ceiling. This former dining room was previously dark and moody, speckled with a mishmash of pendant lighting fixtures. Now it is a bright, clean workspace, with a wealth of natural light brought in through clerestory windows and wide sliding glass doors. Ambler designed an LED lighting system, complemented by reflective white walls, to further brighten the space. Long communal worktables stretch the length of the room.
For those who crave the bright environs of the main space but prefer a private nook, intimate work areas have been crafted in the room’s corners, with built-in bench seating and petite tables, set below wide windows. “[BangallWorks] is a great space to safely work surrounded by other people without feeling crowded in by them,” says Joe Dolce, founder and CEO of Joe Dolce Communications. “It’s a cozy space, rustic yet modern, with every [modern convenience] I needed from an office but without the grey-beige dullness of office life.”
The partners were careful to maintain the building’s antique ambience, while adding modern elements to produce a professional space. “We wanted some level of contemporary up-to-date modern office sensibility,” explains Ambler. “Portions of it could feel intimate, like the lounge, but at the same time you could also get into a space that was well-lit, and not have to squint.”
BangallWorks offers full-time and part-time memberships, as well as day rates, accommodating a range of professionals: from freelance consultants to a podcaster to a healthcare public relations specialist. “Not only does being a member centralize many of my business errands, it’s a great way to meet new neighbors,” says business consultant Rosemarie Miner.
Though the pandemic forced BangallWorks to close temporarily, the space welcomed back members during Phase 2 of New York State’s reopening, implementing protective cleaning and social distancing protocols. Designed to balance productive collaboration, independent work, and creative freedom, the building also serves as a gathering place, having hosted art classes, political committee meetings, and social events.