Last week, camera manufacturer Axis Communications held a grand opening event for its new North American headquarters in Chelmsford, Mass. As a regular contributor to SDM, I’ve developed a good working relationship with the company over the years, and have had numerous conversations about visiting them in person. I was fortunate enough to be invited to the grand opening, so I knew I’d be a fool if I didn’t make the hour-and-a-half trek down I-95.
About 70 people (Axis employees and partners, along with one journalist) got to tour the new third-floor offices. To illustrate the sheer size of the horsheshoe-shaped space, if you walk around the its perimeter, you’ve walked about a quarter of a mile.
But without a doubt, the main attraction – and site of the event – is the Axis Experience Center. Prominently located just inside the main entrance to the building, the large, open AEC is an impressive space. It didn’t hurt that the space was empty when Axis signed the lease, which allowed the company to personalize it to the hilt. And personalize it they did.
Its shiny wood floors, glass-doored demonstration and education areas, exposed beams and more intimate, less formal gathering spaces make it a very welcoming and aesthetically pleasing space. I should get the name of their interior designer.
Upon entering, visitors walk past an Axis “museum” of glass display cases filled with products and information about the company’s history. Just around the corner from that space is a large, rather impressively designed space that features two sitting areas with coffee tables, couches and comfortable chairs. Whoever designed that space should also be commended for his or her attention to acoustics because at no time during the opening did I feel the need to shout to be heard and/or crane my neck to hear someone else’s end of the conversation.
Lining the sides of this area are a conference room, mock command center showcasing the latest technologies from both Axis and its partners, a training facility and a 50-person auditorium.
For me, there were two major highlights of the AEC. First was the museum (I’m cuckoo for history of any kind). The second was the command center where could see a lot of products and technologies up close and personal, including the new Axis Camera Companion. All the benefits of a trade how booth but in a more intimate (and much less hectic) setting. One wall features an array of cameras with the specs of each listed, theater marquee-style, below each. When you’re viewing a particular camera, its spec column lights up, making it easy to compare cameras and know which is which. The marquee style is actually quite well-thought-out because it allows new cameras to be swapped in as they’re developed and/or released.
Just prior to the official ribbon-cutting, General Manager Fredrik Nilsson noted that the new office space is only about half full at the moment, which gives you some idea of the aggressiveness of their planned North American growth plan.
In all, the AEC is an incredible space that should serve Axis and its partners well in the months and years to come.