The international design studio uses Dropbox Business to share file-heavy projects, enabling seamless sharing with global freelancers and clients.
401's Key Results
Simple, organized access to project files
Seamless and fast sharing with global freelancers and clients
Easy, reliable file syncing to power collaboration, including instant updates to media table displays
The search for one home
Architectural models may be tiny in size, but they are big in their mission — to communicate the entire vision of a real estate development. To achieve this lofty goal, 401 must compile information ranging from transportation networks and housing typologies to water lines and future constructions — and communicating this detail necessitates sharing lots of files across lots of partners. According to Matthew Quinn, Director of 401, the company had “struggled with how to pass and share information over the years,” relying primarily on portable hard drives and FTP sites that weren't always accessible to the firm's clients. After learning about Dropbox, Quinn decided to try it for sharing files with some of his colleagues. He quickly saw that teammates were able to share files with clients and partners more easily, and were more organized overall. Soon after that, Quinn's entire team began using Dropbox Business — and the rest of the company followed suit. Quinn says, “We started using Dropbox Business very heavily, very quickly. It worked so well from the beginning, we wanted to use it for everything.”
“Dropbox Business is a central hub that connects our business internally and externally."
Building the foundation
Just one exhibition or architectural model 401 produces can require hundreds of drawings and numerous iterations. Easy and accessible file storage is a huge necessity. One of the main reasons Dropbox Business took off so quickly at 401 was that it was a scalable solution for organizing massive amounts of data for mammoth projects. For example, the company's current project for King's Cross in London covers 8 million square feet of land that will be developed over 15 years. Only about one-quarter of the buildings within the project footprint are near completion, and as Quinn notes, “There is still a tremendous amount of information changing. We use Dropbox Business to keep all of that info in one place, organized by date received, so everyone can accurately track changes.” As the firm's current projects continue to unfold and new projects arrive, Dropbox Business will be essential to development — by not only centralizing all data, but also keeping that data at everyone's fingertips for as long as it's needed. As Quinn attests, “Dropbox Business is a central hub that connects our business internally and externally. We may work on a project one year, then five years later be asked to work on it again. There's an expectation that we will still have that information — which, thanks to Dropbox, we will.”
“We started using Dropbox Business very heavily, very quickly. It worked so well from the beginning, we wanted to use it for everything.”
Changing the landscape with a new model
Innovation at 401 extends to more than just its designs. The team has pioneered a new way to communicate essential city planning concepts, going beyond what a traditional building model could convey. While working on a project for the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council, 401 developed a table made of televisions for modeling displays. The table includes interactive media to help add color and narrative to the neighborhood's evolution. One such table lives at King's Cross and will stay there throughout the life of the 15-year project. Guests of King's Cross Visitor Center can interact with the table to view everything from transportation routes and retail locations to historical facts — all of which are files that appear to the media table through a direct feed from Dropbox Business. Since its introduction, the firm's media table technology has been a popular request among clients — which means 401 must support a wide array of project-specific media display files. When clients have new imagery or information to add to their tables, the team is often tasked with making updates very quickly. Previous solutions required a 401 employee to travel to the media table's physical location and manually update files for the table display, but with Dropbox, files can be updated remotely. “Dropbox Business syncs and boom! A media table in Copenhagen or Abu Dhabi or New York is playing the new file, and we're saved from the headache of remotely coordinating the technology,” Quinn exclaims. Clients love that they can release the latest information so quickly, and they appreciate how easy it is to share updated data with 401. And given that many of the firm's projects span years and even decades, this client satisfaction is extremely important. “Dropbox Business allows us to work better with our clients,” says Quinn. “FTP used to pose issues, but I can't even think of the last person who said they couldn't use Dropbox. It seems to work well for most every IT department."