Red Bull North American headquarters, Santa Monica, CA, can proudly boast of
having the largest indoor/outdoor skateboard platform. And rightly so.
Skateboarding is the 'energizing' sport theme of this major provider of Red
Bull, now acknowledged as one of America's most popular energy drinks.
The new Red Bull facility is the result of a total rehab of an old brick structure dating back to 1959. Encompassing 105,000 square feet, the project was done by Inner Space Constructors, Rancho Dominquez, CA and included completely cutting out the old roof to develop a huge new open courtyard environment.
Standing tall in this new courtyard is an eye-catching skateboard platform that provides the billboard background for Red Bull's emerging dominance in the energy drink world. And providing a unique showcase to the entire courtyard is an all-glass 28' tall by 40' wide bifold door manufactured by a Midwest firm, Schweiss Bifold Doors of Minnesota.
Why a bifold? Yi Shen, architect with HLW International, Santa Monica, responds, "We looked at some other projects in Santa Monica which has this type of bifold door as a major design element and we loved the concept. We then did some Internet research and felt the Schweiss bifold was the most appropriate option."
Key in HLW's design concept was the connecting of the indoor space with the outdoor courtyard, thus making the spine feature ramp of the skateboard platform a continuous visual flow. That required a big sized door which presented an elegant appearance when closed and when fully opened. The huge Schweiss bifold was the answer.
Related Shen, "Remodeling this old building into a unique structure for Red Bull actually involved a combination of several design elements: the feature ramp, the bifold door, the courtyard, the sky fold door and screening room, all of which follow the image of Red Bull as a company that supports extreme sports and sponsors large scale events and exhibitions."
"Because skateboarding represents the energetic and young character of the Red Bull Company, the huge skateboard platform architecturally acts as a spine and disperses space and activities throughout the building. It's also the strongest visual element in the project," said Shen.
Indeed. That skateboard ramp, a non-operational element, measures 40' wide and is 250' long according to Gary Scharrer, Inner Space. Offices and conference rooms for Red Bull occupy much of the space beneath this ramp.
"It projects a great marketing look for Red Bull since marketing X Games and athletes is the bulk of their marketing thrust. And it gives the Red Bull staff, and others the opportunity to see events going on in their new courtyard," says Scharrer describing the Schweiss bifold as a glass paneled door with structural silicon fastening the glass to the metal framework. The metal frame weighed 6,000 lbs. Glass panels added 14,000 lbs. so total weight of the bifold is right at 10 tons. Two electric motors and eight lift straps drive this particular unit.
Schmidt Construction, Williams, CA, was the sub-contractor handling delivery and installation of the Schweiss Bifold. "We knew installing the glass panels was critical so I had Schweiss deliver the framework of the door to this job site," explains Bill Schmidt. He then had a technician from Dow Corning glass do the actual measurements needed for each glass panel plus the silicon fastening work.
"I've installed nearly 300 Schweiss Bifolds, mostly on hangars across California, Nevada and Oregon. It was, however, nice working with a glass specialist when it came to the special task of fastening glass panels to the metal frame," relates Schmidt.
"As a contractor I'm very pleased with the final results and the Red Bull people absolutely love it," notes Scharrer. He credits the Schweiss company for delivering an excellent product. "You can tell by the welding, the engineering design, and the precision fit that Schweiss is an outfit that pays attention to details. They're an outstanding manufacturer."
Added Shen, "Quality shop drawings are important to we architects. Plus we appreciate quick access to the key technical people of the product we're dealing with. Schweiss provided us with high quality work, not only the final product, but the process as well."
Summed up Scharrer, "If you look at the history of this particular structure before we started the project and see now the finished results, it truly is a remarkable event. It's different than anything we have ever done before. I credit the Red Bull staff and the HLW architects for some very creative vision."
Relating to the new trend of 'Designer Doors' that Schweiss is popularizing in their work with various builders and architectural firms, Scharrer indicated specialty doors definitely are a bigger part of modern design. Total application of the building, including the energy issue, are key determiners of customized doors.