The Beauty and Necessity in Change: Wonder Bread Factory, S Street

From the second I walked into the Wonder Bread Factory, I was struck by its beauty. I expected to see old brick, and historic structures from the building’s older Dorsch’s White Cross Bakery days from 1913, but instead, I was surrounded by sophisticated graphic art designs, and complex objects. There is no question that the Wonder Bread Factory on 641 S St. NW is not the same building it was decades earlier. There are no longer flour-covered workers tossing dough and bread from one section of the kitchen to the other. They have been replaced with millennials in business suits conversing over coffee on beautiful wooden tables. The interior may have drastically changed, but I have the feeling that people are still accomplishing something special.

The exterior of WeWork and the old Wonder Bread Factory.

When WeWork, a company dedicated to providing office spaces, came to DC, they were motivated to find a location that would improve the “creative space” that was lacking in the city (O’Connell). The thirty-three thousand square foot building with “high ceilings, large glass windows, exposed brick and wood beams” was the exact space they were searching for (O’Connell). The building requires a keycard to enter, but guests can ring the doorbell for entrance. Once inside, there is a waiting area with decorative, seasonal pillows on two couches and a wooden table. There is also graphic art design on this portion of the walls, which is an interesting touch to include with the older brick. 

The seating area with various pillows and couches. Notice the older brick wall, graphic art, and beautiful natural light from the streets.

Additionally, the architects certainly made use of the building’s space. Despite the extensive design, there is a giant lobby, and plenty of area to navigate between spaces. Behind the waiting area, there is WeWork’s own reading and book selection. Also, there are two secluded conference rooms and a kitchen for workers. The first conference room is seen immediately when entering, has a sign called, “The Green House,” and in it there are also various plants. In between the two conference rooms, there is a model RV, that holds additional couch seating for guests. 

The books, tables, and TV for staff to work with.
The “Green Room” or first conference room seen when entering the building.
More of the conference room, as well as the Model RV and additional seating for guests
The end of the lobby, more tables, and beautiful art.

At the end of the spacious lobby, there are two beautiful, vibrant paintings that depict runners sprinting to the finish line. There is a long table in front of them as well. The entire interior is extremely colorful, but mostly contains navy blues and various shades of greens. A majority of the objects are wooden, and the space itself makes use of the building’s natural light. Despite how modern it looks, the building also kept the brick and high ceiling structures which complements the twenty-first century design.

Here is the receptionist’s desk, as well as the large lobby and walking space, there is plenty of room to walk around from area to area. This is also an excellent picture of the building’s ceiling structure.

The interior of the site felt revolutionary, and brought up feelings concerning change due to the atmosphere and mood of the décor. Previously, I talked to Keith, an older man who has lived across the street from the Wonder Bread Factory for several years. He described how customers and workers would toss various bread products to each other inside the factory. They would laugh and have a fun time together, while occasionally getting free bread out of it. As I was wandering around the current building, I pictured the sounds and images of these men working together. Now, individuals are tossing around various concepts for potential companies in the Wonder Bread Factory building. When I observed the area and the workers, I felt positive and hopeful energy. They loved what they were accomplishing, and most importantly, they were happy in their careers. Although I was disappointed at how different the location was from Keith described to me, I could not help but be amazed at how effortlessly things have changed. While it is important to cherish and remember the past, it is necessary to move on, and adapt to the changes in society surrounding us.

Picture of the beginning of the construction process
Picture of the beginning of the construction process


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