After many years of operating in Brooklyn, what was the catalyst that inspired RBW to relocate to its new upstate home? How did you land in Kingston, in a building that was once part of an IBM campus?
Charles: Our focus was on creating an environment that we could grow into and not have to redo over and over again. That was inspired by all the five- to seven-year-long commercial leases in New York City, which required a lot of time and energy forecasting how much space we would need every five to seven years. We decided to just go for broke and find a big space, and we set a few parameters. A two-hour-or-less transit time from New York City was important, and Amtrak can get you here in an hour and 45 minutes. Scale was also important; we wanted eight times our current capacity, or a minimum of 80,000 square feet. In Kingston, we found a building marketed as an office that had sat vacant for more than 20 years, which at one point was UnitedHealthcare, then a state tax processing office, and before that was an IBM support center. It had the same 15-and-a-half-foot ceilings that you would find in a Brooklyn creative loft, and so we immediately saw a great opportunity to repurpose the building. We had it rezoned by the local planning board for light manufacturing.
What was the state of the building when you found it, and what did the ensuing transformation entail?
Neil: The building is so enormous, a person who lives in the city would have a hard time understanding it. It’s staggering. But when we first visited, it was very broken up, and it was hard to imagine how you would unpack this thing and turn it into a cohesive space. We started by dividing it into two major areas, one for production and assembly, and one for administration. Then we organized the administrative area into blocks of offices. Taking cues from Brooklyn, where we had small offices of two different sizes, and expanded that to a larger scale. Here, we have small offices, bigger ones, and even bigger ones.
Charles: There are individually-focused work spaces that look out at the windows and are kind of secluded, and there’s an open bench area where people can work for full days or part of the day as a group. And then facing the interior is a kind of open area that has different sized conference rooms, where groups of five to 20 people can meet or join a video conference.