Client: RAB Office Renovation
170 Ludlow Avenue
Founded in 1946, RAB Lighting has been a manufacturer of exterior lighting fixtures for over 70 years. Today it is the epitome of an evolving company, transforming and repositioning itself from a traditional exterior lighting manufacturer into an environmentally-focused tech company that designs and manufactures interior & exterior LED lighting and lighting control systems.
In the midst of both an expansion and manufacturing evolution, RAB needed a facility which would allow the company to triple in size while providing the capability to consolidate the design, prototyping, testing, manufacturing, and marketing of LED lighting products under one roof to decrease the time and cost of innovation and manufacturing.
RAB also sought a contemporary office design to embody their transformation into a cutting-edge tech company, helping them to recruit the best new talent. Another goal of the renovation was to create an in-house, state-of-the-art training facility for RAB’s customers, where they could learn about the products RAB offers and see them in use throughout the offices and various facilities.
DESIGN PROCESS & INTENT
After an extensive analysis of RAB’s program and operations, we developed a series of performative diagrams that outlined the differentiated working environments, and how they all tie together. Each working space had diverse departmental needs, which were carefully considered and integrated when creating the diagrams. We then used these diagrams to develop a consistent, contemporary open work environment to meet the individual, departmental, and company needs, while providing the capacity for their future growth.
The final project was built over three phases, which allowed the company to continue operations while work was occurring. The renovation expanded RAB’s offices into what had been previously warehouse space, allowing the various interactions and processes within the company to flow effectively, while providing ample room for growth and maximizing the efficiency of production. Each department has its own space and identity, while remaining collectively joined through similar contemporary architectural elements—like glass, lighting, and color—that flow through the building. Where possible, we removed the existing dropped ceilings and exposed the full 21-foot ceilings to create a greater sense of space and opportunity for natural day-lighting. Below are a few highlights of this 17,000 square-foot renovation:
- A large interactive training facility was designed at the center of the project, to facilitate the company’s expansion by training new customers on their products in-house. The tiered seating and tables are based on MBA lecture rooms, and the use of wood paneling is intended to create a warm and comfortable, yet impressive environment for these intensive training sessions. These wrapping elements also feature prototypes of RAB interior lighting products, so the customers can see the products in use. Prior to the renovation, RAB had been renting space at local venues, but realized that a striking, well-designed and customized training facility would leave a bigger impact on their customers, while being cost effective over time. They were right—to date, thousands of customers have been trained and this facility has become key to RAB’s explosive growth and the success of newly launched LED products.
- Within the engineering department, we exposed the existing 22-foot high ceilings and enlarged windows to bring in as much natural light as possible into the space. On one side of this great space, we inserted a large, purple sculptural element containing a floating conference room, offices, and storage on the first floor. On the mezzanine level of this purple element is the CEO’s office, which features a wrapping ribbon window, and was designed to be more open and informal than a typical executive office. The remaining mezzanine area is intended for future expansion, and can be accessed via a custom steel and glass staircase.
- Because RAB provides lunch for their employees on a daily basis and offer meals during multi-day training sessions for customers, we designed a flexible cafe space to accommodate both uses. We blew out the dropped ceilings, creating a large open space with a swooping red element which conceals a custom food service island and a minimalist pantry. Large clerestory windows on the side allow for daylighting to be shared between the cafe and adjacent work areas, while creating a connection and openness between them.
RAB has since become a repeat client of Soluri Architecture, and we have completed numerous additional projects while continuing to work together on new projects. These projects include: the 173 Ludlow Warehouse expansion, RAB’s NYC Showroom, RAB Testing Lab, 140 Ludlow Street renovation, RAB’s Mechanical Lab, RAB West, 150 Ludlow St renovation, and the expansion of RAB’s Customer Service & Lighting Design departments.