If you’re a fan of extreme sports, you probably are familiar with Ken Block. The professional rally driver is with Hoonigan Racing Division, a team he founded in 2010, and also the cofounder and former chief brand officer of DC Shoes, the mega-popular action sports footwear company acquired by Quiksilver in 2004.
What you may not know is that Block is also serious about sustainability. Being raised in environmentally conscious Southern California and married for the past 10 years to a woman who is deeply committed to recycling and caring for the environment has, as Block says, “rubbed off” on him. “She’s been a huge influence on my life over the years, and doing what’s right in the long run is important to us,” Block says. “If we can do something that helps, we’re going to prioritize it.”
Guided by this desire to do right by the environment, when Block was ready to open the doors on Hoonigan Racing Division’s team headquarters in Park City, Utah, he opted to use 17 recycled shipping containers to construct a 12,000-square-foot reusable workspace. Within the past five years, there has been a huge uptick in the use of shipping containers as modular units for homes and businesses (see Soak Spa). Until very recently, these massive structures went unused, piling up in ports all over the country. Thanks to people like Block, the steel structures are being upcycled and, in the case of Hoonigan Racing Division, turned into a wonderfully eclectic, characteristically high-octane, quite sustainable multiuse space that features offices for 25 employees, a workshop to service the team’s vehicles, and shared areas, including a kitchen.
“Going into this, I knew we were going to build a space we could transport. I just hated the idea of having this office space built, only for it to get torn down and end up in a landfill when we move,” Block says. “Now, if and when we leave, we can take the whole place with us. That’s a great thing about shipping containers that doesn’t get discussed enough. Yes, it’s recycling, but they’re also totally transportable.”
In fact, Hoonigan’s founder says that ensuring the space was able to be taken apart and transported was the only requirement—but it took planning.
“This kind of thing is relatively new in the area, and there weren’t really codes for construction using shipping containers,” Block says. “Going through the process to get everything approved took a while, and we ran into some issues, like making sure we added proper ventilation. But it was all worth the trouble, and I’m very happy with the final product.”
In terms of design, the DC Shoes cofounder wanted to be very hands-on. The project was, Block knew, perfect for interior designer Lia Aguirre of Area Design, with whom Block wanted to work closely to incorporate his personal style and elements that would be representative of his background in extreme sports.
The headquarters are outfitted with the usual sustainable features, such as LED lighting and bamboo flooring, but what makes it interesting are the special touches not usually present in the average office space: neon blue and green walls; a life-sized, stuffed grizzly bear; and recycled skateboards that are used as tiles throughout. There was no avoiding the industrial vibe because of the use of shipping containers, but Block also wanted a modern feel. “I’m not going to lie, it’s an interesting mix,” Block says. “There’s white mid-century modern furniture, there’s a fireplace with some wooden fixtures, and on top of that, all of the sports I’ve been involved in are somehow represented. It’s a lot going on, but it works. We were aiming for different, and that’s what we got.”