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AAK Customer Innovation Center

New test kitchens and labs help AAK work side-by-side with its customers to transform ideas into delicious products.
  • Glass doorway leading to the new baking test kitchen labeled with the words “Bakery Lab” - Gannett Fleming.

    The Baking Lab allows AAK to collaborate with its customers to create, test, and refine new baked goods.

  • Interior view of kitchen with stainless steel mixers, appliances, and food preparation areas - Gannett Fleming.

    The test kitchen provides state-of-the-art equipment to prepare, balance, mix, bake, and cool new products.

  • Confectionary lab with yellow conveyor belt and other equipment used for making and storing confections and fillings - Gannett Fleming.

    A Confectionary Lab offers refining, conching, and enrobing capabilities for making confections and fillings.

  • Large meeting room with two separate conference tables, blue chairs, and a monitor on the far wall - Gannett Fleming.

    Two multi-purpose conference rooms double as sensory testing areas and can be opened to create one large meeting space.

  • Interior hallway featuring colored signs that represent steps in the product development process at the AAKTION Lab - Gannett Fleming.

    New signage, colors, and interior finishes reflect AAK’s branding and commitment to innovation.

  • Break area in the hallway with a comfortable yellow chair and glass walls with views into the meeting rooms - Gannett Fleming.

    The new center is designed to provide a comfortable and inspiring environment for AAK customers.

Client
AAK USA, Inc.
Location
Edison, New Jersey
Our Role
Architecture, Interior Design, Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, Construction Oversight.
Data
Size:
3,500 square feet
Construction Cost:
$2 million
Completed:
2017
Type:
Renovation
Duration:
1 year 4 months
Outcomes
  • New center supports AAK’s mission to advance innovation in the food industry
  • Proper equipment, labs, and test areas facilitate product co-development with AAK’s customers
  • Product solutions can be tested and refined prior to commercialization
  • Design reflects AAK’s branding and commitment to fostering customer partnerships.

As a leading provider of vegetable oils and fats for the bakery, chocolate, and confectionery industries, AAK is committed to advancing innovation by collaborating with its customers to create winning products. To support its co-development approach, the company needed the proper spaces and equipment to allow staff and customers to work side-by-side to test ideas, refine concepts, and find the right solutions.

AAK envisioned a new Customer Innovation Center at its Edison, New Jersey, location to foster partnerships among technical experts, the business sector, and the academic community. With a limited amount of space, and big goals, it needed a design partner with expertise in the technical and sensory aspects of food product development to help plan its new facility.

What We Did

Gannett Fleming architects worked with AAK to transform a 3,500-square-foot first-floor office suite into a fully-functional, customer-friendly research center featuring a Bakery Lab, Confectionary Lab, Analytical Lab, and meeting areas. The design team found creative ways to optimize the use of available space. Instead of providing separate smelling and tasting booths that are not often used, designers created two adjacent, multi-purpose conference rooms. These spaces can be used as sensory testing areas as needed and can be opened to create one large meeting room. The plan also provides amenities to make AAK customers feel at home while working at the center, including a visitor’s office with room for product storage. Colors and interior finishes add to the welcoming feel and bring AAK’s branding to life.

Proper pressurization and environmental controls are crucial in food testing and production facilities. Kitchens, labs, and meeting areas must be isolated and pressurized to prevent cross-contamination of smells. Temperature and humidity levels must also be controlled, particularly for chocolate production. Gannett Fleming assisted in designing mechanical systems to support equipment, ventilation, and pressurization needs to ensure ideal conditions in each of the labs and test areas.

Key Features

  • A Confectionary Lab offers refining, conching, enrobing, and cooling equipment to produce all types of confections and fillings
  • A Bakery Lab provides state-of-the-art equipment for the development and testing of baked goods
  • The Analytical Lab features texture and moisture analyzers, volumeters, viscometers, and other tools needed to evaluate the physical characteristics of products in all stages of development
  • Two multi-purpose conference rooms serve both as meeting spaces and sensory testing areas
  • Mechanical systems provide negative pressurization in all labs, kitchens, and conference rooms to isolate smells and prevent cross-contamination. 

Sustainability Features & Outcomes

  • Use of low VOC materials and paints improves indoor air quality
  • Finishes and furnishings contain recycled content to lessen environmental impact
  • LED lighting and efficient mechanical systems reduce energy consumption.

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