Project Story: Karrelex
Karrelex is a concrete repair specialist located in Blainville, Quebec. When developing a new sector of the industrial park where Karrelex had held headquarters for the last twenty years, the city called Daniel Bélair, President of Karrelex, to see if he’d be interested in moving.
The proposed location was an undeveloped area on Rue Legault, a two-minute drive from Karrelex’s current home. Working with DMA Architects, Bélair brought together a team of professionals to design a premium, engaging facility for the future Karrelex home.
The design needed to meet the city’s requirements for a distinctive, aesthetically-refined building envelope and the Karrelex vision of a combination two-storey office with industrial rental units and additional co-workspace.
“We wanted the spaces that would be offered in the new building to be at the forefront of design while being as responsive as possible to the needs of the business and especially the people who make it happen,” says Bélair.
One of the biggest considerations was taking advantage of natural lighting. “The spaces had to be attractive to the staff so that they would occupy the space with enthusiasm,” explains Bélair. “The windows were thought through extensively—it is possible to see outside from anywhere in the building.”
Bélair describes the new building as “more modern and better suited to the demands of a construction company.”
Karrelex first contacted Concept Illumination, a Montreal-based LED lighting provider, requesting they review the exterior lighting.
“We wanted the building to be well-lit without disturbing the neighbourhood,” explains Bélair.
Beginning with the exterior, Concept Illumination ran lighting simulations to analyze the needs and output needed in each area. Lampposts and pole-mounted fixtures were used for the building’s parking lot, with wall-mounted fixtures installed around the building’s perimeter, including wall packs over the man and garage doors.
To light up the walkway, Concept Illumination also installed recessed fixtures and a series of suspended cylinder lights to build a welcoming fluidity and ambience at the entrance.
With the exterior completed, Karrelex decided to work with Concept Illumination on the inside of the building.
“By entrusting Concept Illumination with the mandate to provide all the exterior lighting, we learned more about the company. Pleasantly surprised by the services they offered, we began planning the interior lighting,” says Bélair.
Concept Illumination was excited to be involved in the blank canvas of new construction—with a large number of their clients focused on retrofits, the chance to work without creative restraints in a completely new build was a welcome opportunity.
“While we are very experienced in commercial and industrial lighting projects, it’s rare that we work on a new construction where none of the fixtures have been specified,” says Daniel Herz, Director of Sales for Concept Illumination. “Fortunately, the client was very involved and knew what he wanted, not only for the lighting but also for the overall look and feel of the space.”
Both Herz and Bélair envisioned continuity across the different spaces and agreed on modern, minimalistic fixtures that best fit the environment.
A heavy focus was placed on analyzing the proposed light levels throughout the different parts of the building to ensure industry standards were being met.
“The most important consideration in working with Concept Illumination was to ensure that all spaces had adequate lighting,” says Bélair. “To do this, Concept Illumination provided us with photometric analyses at each stage of the design of the interior spaces.”
“With his [Bélair’s] input and detailed building plans, we were able to quickly and precisely select and position proposed fixtures and finalize the bill of materials,” explained Herz.
A variety of recessed, linear architectural, and suspended cylinder lighting was used in the common area. Each was purposely chosen based on mounting height and fixture spacing and the intended use of the space.
Recessed and linear architectural fixtures were installed in the office spaces, with the recessed lighting used for general illumination and suspended linear architectural fixtures used above workspaces.
To save energy, wall-mounted fixtures with integrated motion sensors were installed in the stairwells. In the warehouses, high bay fixtures were supplied, with different models being used at different mounting heights to brightly illuminate the space.
Spending time with the electrical contractors rather than simply handing them the ‘installation guide’ is an important part of the project for Concept Illumination.
“It’s easy to mistake one fixture for the other when they look identical, but the beam angles are different,” says Herz. “We visited the site on several occasions and kept an open line of communication with the electrician. It is common for us to work closely with electricians on their installations, even for simpler retrofit projects. It saves everyone time and ensures that the results match the proposal.”
The period during which the building was constructed [beginning in 2020] presented significant challenges in sourcing building materials. “The project was rolled out in several phases, and once shipments were received, we would help the electrician identify each fixture type and make sure that they ended up being installed in the right place,” continues Herz.
“With the help of Concept Illumination’s technical representative,” Bélair commented, “products were chosen that were delivered in a reasonable and acceptable time frame.”
Bélair says that the final result exceeds their expectations and resulted in a single tenant—inspired by the design of the new building—offering to take on the full two units of rental space.
“We had planned for two tenants to join Karrelex in occupying all the spaces in the building,” explains Bélair. “When the space was leased, an international Italian company, Unox Canada Inc., which specializes in commercial ovens, decided to occupy all the space and set up their Canadian head office. The tenant likely chose to establish its operations here because of the design, which is similar to the company’s main headquarters in Italy.”
Bélair says he enjoyed working with Concept Illumination due to “the wide range of services offered, the ease of access to their technical representatives, as well as the speed with which technical and financial proposals were presented.” He expressed that the newly built Karrelex headquarters at 350 Rue Legault has become more than just a workplace: it’s a community hub where employees, clients, and suppliers meet.
“They are very happy to work here and to meet for happy hour with friends in the common areas at the front of the building,” Bélair says in closing. “The building offers ample office and warehouse space for companies looking to differentiate themselves.”