This past summer, Praxair completed a full interior renovation of 9,000 square feet of PTC – Praxair’s global flagship R&D and engineering facility in Tonawanda. According to Praxair officials, the company wanted to “create a flexible incubator space that could be used by everyone in the company – a ‘think tank’.”
Buffalo Rising recently caught up with Praxair to learn more about the undertaking, which was headed up by Wendel architects and engineers.
What was Wendel’s role in the renovation?
Wendel provided the architecture, interior design, and structural, mechanical and electrical engineering for this project.
What is the history of the space?
The space was formerly used as an industrial laboratory and has been converted into an exciting, flexible and inspiring space showcasing state-of-the-art technology, appealing to users and facilitating collaborative teamwork.
What are the space configurations presently?
The space includes meeting spaces, conference rooms, a kitchen area, and space to hold large town-hall style presentations and events with full AV capabilities.
Why did they need this space?
According to Terry Bourgeois, Praxair Technology Center Site Director, “The company had a space that was being significantly underutilized and rather than turn the space into more offices, management wanted to ‘create an environment where people can connect and work as cross functional teams with the right technology and tools.’”
What was behind the design and why?
Layout, colors, furniture, lighting, finishings, etc… Praxair/Wendel wanted the design to have a very “modern look and feel with intentional design detail to promote innovative thought,” noted Bourgeois.
We understand that color was a critical component of the space?
To meet the client’s vision for this space, blue and red are primary colors utilized in several elements. Blue is used to create focused areas of serenity and peace, promoting a relaxed, soothing atmosphere. Red is used to stimulate and excite, creating zones of movement and energy. Wall and carpet materials strategically locate color nodes, with segments of color reaching out to draw people into these flexible collaboration zones. Programmable, color changing LED lights (green, orange) are incorporated to allow ambiance to the work spaces throughout the day.
At Praxair, 26,000 employees in more than 50 countries are working together towards a common goal: making our planet more productive.
How do you envision workers interacting with the space?
The space has a lot of flexibility achieved with movable furniture, planters and white boards, for any type of activity and can be easily arranged for classroom style trainings, or can be used for multiple groups to comfortably work on different projects within the same area. The designers wanted to make sure that there would be plenty of opportunities to interact with others while keeping teams from being disturbed if they need to avoid interruptions.
The coffee area – how does that function?
The coffee area was specially designed to be top of the line and to create a center point to gather around in the space. Praxair wanted to make sure it would both always function correctly, and facilitate interactions between people who may not normally work together.
Have the employees been using the space as it was intended?
“Yes, the space has absolutely been working as intended. Praxair is very happy with the end result and is excited about how the Innovation Center has been utilized. Not only their own employees have been using the space, but “suppliers and customers have come in as well to integrate with sessions,” Bourgeois commented.
Praxair recently invited some special visitors to utilize the space?
Yes, UB Engineering students also recently used the space for a Hackathon themed: How can we design one of our delivery vehicles better?
Get connected: Praxair
Correction: This article originally listed the project name as the Praxair Incubation Center, it has been corrected to the Praxair Innovation Center.