One of the Company Lab’s neighbors was making a lot of noise last month, so on May 25th I decided to go see who and what was causing all the commotion. Behind clouds of dust, roaming bobcats, and a wall of noise I found a project that represents Chattanooga, particularly Southside Chattanooga, at its very core: The Crash Pad: An Uncommon Hostel. Today, it’s a totally different story across the street, but first thing’s first…

In The Beginning…. Ok, maybe not that long ago, but shortly after the beginning, Max and Dan started tossing around the premise for The Crash Pad. They wanted to create a home base for climbers, hikers, bikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts and they had an idea to fill the hostel gap in Chattanooga. They signed up for our SpringBoard program in ‘09 to solidify their business plan and work out the details of their project while originally looking into acquiring land in Suck Creek for a climber campground. They then set their sights on Chattanooga’s Southside for a place that combines the “affordability and camaraderie of a traditional hostel with the charm and cleanliness of a boutique hotel.” Since that day they changed locations, decided on a new location but had it purchased out from under them, and finally secured their current location. Just as things began to move along, one of their first construction projects literally fell through when two of the walls from the original building collapsed while being prepped to support solar panels. In short, it’s been quite a journey. The final product is the result of quality time, quality effort, and true ingenuity, courtesy of Max Poppel, Dan Rose, Al Smith, and the amazing craftsmen and artists of Chattanooga. When you hear about this place you are going to want to head to the Southside and see our newest neighbor for yourself.  

Approaching the still-under-construction (at the time) masterpiece from the side street I first noticed the open, spiral staircases on either side of the building. As you round the corner you see the aluminum and frosted glass Crash Pad signage, created by local Chattanooga artist Isaac Duncan, as well as the custom bike rack that forms the words CRASHPAD, created by another local, Steve Morse of Morse Metalworks.  The integration of local businesses into the “brick and mortar” of the project became a common theme as I discussed the nuts and bolts of the building with Max and Al.


Upon entering the dorm, I was introduced to the “Superbunks,” created by Matt Sears of Haskel Sears Design, from the wood that was recovered from the building that previously occupied the space. Not to be confused with your standard, run-of-the-mill bunks these are massive constructs, like bunk-beds on steroids with large, storage compartments underneath that should accommodate all but the largest, packed out backpacks.



The bathrooms are decked out with “low-flow” fixtures and customs sinks, from Justin at Set in Stone, that feature actual bits and pieces of Chattanooga fixed into the mold: glass from Ignis Glass, from bottles collected from the lot they now occupy, and other cool details like that. There are other pieces that showcase the talent of our local artists and craftsmen but to list them all would basically require the dissection and labeling of each part of this impressive project.  

June 3rd was the grand opening for The Crash Pad. Today, the smoke has cleared, construction tape removed, bobcats absent the scene, and in their wake emerges the diamond from the rough. This building is definitely another sight to see for The Scenic City. I’m not sure that I can sum up the entire project in a single phrase as all of these words would have to be included: local, innovative, environmentally conscious, welcoming, uncommon… just to name a few.



The Crash Pad is open for business and ready to serve our community as a promoter, facilitator, and enjoyer of the Chattanooga area’s outdoor recreation scene. Thanks to Max, Dan, and Al for taking the time to show me around the place and share their story with the Company Lab. Check out their site @ and on Facebook @  Additional thanks to the talented Mandy Rhoden for the “Superbunk” and “Crash Pad at dusk” photos.