LABI is a 15,000 SF workplace renovation of a warehouse constructed in the 1880s. Architecturally, the design sought to express the original bones of the building with interiors that spoke to the cultural and natural landscape of southern Louisiana.
The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) is the state’s largest business organization, and a voice for the principles of free enterprise in Louisiana. The organization represents a broad consortium of small businesses throughout the state, with their membership numbering into the hundreds. In 2018, given this diverse membership, which over the years had become increasingly younger, President and CEO Steven Waguespack, found it time to facilitate a reinvention of the company’s image and brand. This began with the space the group occupied. In 2017, the group bought a warehouse from the 1880s, since renovated in 2003, a renovation that concealed much of the historic bones of the property with drop ceilings and other finishes. LABI’s vision for the space was one of gathering and collaboration. Since they work with lobbyists and legislation, they wanted to be close to the capitol (a 10 minute walk away), and they simultaneously wanted a space for members to convene. In short, the space would serve not just as an office building, but a conference center and event hall in how it performs.
In service of the goals outlined by the client, the design team developed a holistic, flexible space for a variety of programs. Today, as users come into the first floor, they are greeted by a large multipurpose space. On a typical day, this serves as a large conference center laid out like a living room but can easily be converted to a board room, training room, and even a banquet or ballroom setup. This space is augmented by plentiful storage (for swapping the furniture setups needed for these various configurations) as well as a service bar and kitchen (which serves coffee and other refreshments for daily use and slots in as a catering and wet bar for other events).
The second floor hosts a boardroom for staff, a breakroom, open offices, and private offices on the perimeter. Glass storefronts on all the exterior offices and along the main face of the lounge provide ample natural light.
The design sought to express the original bones of the building. Finishes similarly spoke to the open nature of the organization and its mission and vision for the greater Louisiana region. Unlike a typical workplace design project, where inspiration can be drawn from a product or service offered by the client company, LABI’s business is an abstract one: furthering entrepreneurship across Louisiana. Thus the design team selected finishes speaking to Louisiana, the landscape and broader context. This resulted in a plethora of natural materials, wood, paired with other regional industrial finishes: steel and metal. In total, the project is a holistic environment capable of accommodating the many events and undertakings of LABI throughout the year.