Trade across the high seas isn't what it used to be. And the ubiquitous shipping container, though still the workhorse of international trade, has become a surplus good stockpiled in less than active ports of call. Proposed new uses for these sturdy and spacious boxes have ranged from backyard storage to housing projects for low-income populations. The new role of the shipping container has been extended to the workplace in the form of a conference room designed by Pugh + Scarpa as the central attraction in their remodeling of a 1930 Art Deco masonry building in downtown Santa Monica for Reactor Films. A print advertisement offering second-hand shipping containers caught Lawrence Scarpa's eye five years ago and has been burning a hole in his wallet ever since. With the commission from Reactor, an award-winning maker of music videos, advertisements, and television films with credits including Bud Lite's "I love you man" commercials and videos for Smashing Pumpkins, Scarpa's long wait for the right client and the right project has paid off. Reactor Films' Steve Chase was "the first client I've had who has given me artistic freedom," explains a delighted Larry Scarpa, who has designed projects for Reactor's parent company, Partners USA. "As a director and creator of films and commercials, he was extremely sensitive about telling me what to do," says the architect of the professional respect shown by his client. All that was asked of Pugh + Scarpa was that the production facility have its own identity and that it be designed and constructed in 14 weeks. The 7,000-sq.-ft. space with 18-ft. ceilings came with a requirement of its own: a city ordinance stipulates that the first 50 ft. at the front of any building located within the Bayside Pedestrian District be dedicated to the engagement of pedestrian activity. To ensure that the tight deadline for occupancy was met, construction costs kept in check, and the city ordinance fulfilled, Pugh + Scarpa established a design/build relationship with Brian Crommie and Tom Hinerfeld of BT Builders. The architect and contractor divided the program, which included private and open offices, editing bays, and a conference room, into distinct areas for detailed development phased with the construction schedule. Each area was designed, presented to the client, dimensioned, and issued to the contractor for construction. Each phase of construction established the existing conditions for each successive phase.