Hive76 president Brendan Schrader dies at 33: ‘He was the embodiment of our space’

Members of the Hive76 community say Schrader was the "father" of the Callowhill makerspace.

Hive76 president Brendan Schrader (left) and Dan Provenzano inside Hive76 during Philly Tech Week 2013.

(Photo by Juliana Reyes)

Brendan Schrader, president of Callowhill makerspace Hive76, died Wednesday of a cardiac issue related to Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. Schrader, 33, had lived with the rare disease all his life “with occasional visits to the ER with a racing heart,” Hive76 wrote in a blog post.

Members of Hive76 were saddened to lose Schrader, who helped get the organization moving in its early years and whom many thought of as the “father” of the workspace.

“Brendan was pretty much the embodiment of our space,” said member PJ Santoro.

Brendan Schrader plays with a Hive76 combat robot. (Photo by Cary Betagole)

Schrader, who was always game to give outsiders a tour of Hive76’s creations, had “a natural ability to get everyone excited about something,” he said, and a knack for getting everyone to work together on “quirky projects.”

One of those projects was a larger than life version of the game Connect Four, which Hive76 members built in three weeks for Philly Tech Week 2014. Another was a digital pinball machine that features nearly 200 different pinball titles.

At this year’s Philly Tech Week signature event, Schrader also brought along one of the space’s “boom cases,” or speakers made out of everyday objects — in this instance, a cream-colored vintage suitcase that blasted soul music that night.


“He always loved seeing the look on people’s faces when they would play around with the projects we made,” Santoro said.

Schrader’s “let’s make stuff just because” attitude will live on at the space, said member Dan Provenzano.

Provenzano wrote in an email:

Brendan was always quick to point out that Hive76 was not a hackerspace, I’m pretty sure he hated the word. He insisted that we were a shared workspace. Just a bunch of folks making stuff, tinkering. Perhaps ‘hackerspace’ had too many connotations of productivity or purpose, because some of the things we built were certainly without purpose. But that was the point. Make something just because – because it’s funny, because it’s stupid, because you’re bored or because nobody else has ever had such a brilliantly dumb idea. I don’t see that spirit many other places, but it abided quite happily in Brendan.

As for Hive76’s leadership, that has been put on the back burner for now, Santoro said.

“We’re just trying to keep everyone close together and continue to make this place as great a place as it is again,” he said.

Schrader’s memorial service is being held today in Springfield, Pa. Instead of flowers, send donations to Hive76, his memorial page says.

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