Lulu’s recent move to Hillsborough street represents the beginning of the street’s rebuilding. The dot com’s visionary CEO, Bob Young, was the co-founder of Red Hat before starting Lulu in 2002. Lulu is an online self publishing company that enables writers to print books of high quality in low volume for reasonable prices. The business enables publishers to use powerful editing and ecommerce tools online through a large software development team that works on site in Raleigh.
In addition to Raleigh, Lulu has offices in Bangalore and in London, right off of Trafalgar Square. Lulu’s old Triangle office was a strong contrast to the new location, sitting in a nondescript Morrisville office park, and while western Hillsborough Street is a far cry from Trafalgar square, the cultural upgrade cannot be overlooked.
One can only guess at the immeasurable hiring and marketing advantage Lulu immediately gains by being so proximal to NC State’s unofficial entrance. How many future graduates will be familiar with the bleeding edge company when they begin their hunt for jobs or internships? Lulu’s office is a premier space acting as gatepost to downtown and the university, and is hopefully the first of many technology companies of such scale to move closer to Raleigh’s city center.
Night Photo Courtesy of Good Night Raleigh
The new building is just as exciting as the new location. Its exterior, facing Hillsborough St., is largely the same as that of the Carolina Tractor Company that closed in 1996. In 2007 the building sat as mostly a shell when Bob Young began to work at making the building into Lulu’s new office. The interior is an open rolling space with tall windows between areas and skylights lighting the offices and various conference rooms. Much of the exposed brick, steel supports and wooden ceiling are all original- substantial in their strength and striking as exposed materials. A modern work space with employees grouped by task, but with wide doorways between the areas. Office dividers sit angled from the walls in offset patterns that are quiet and secure while still open enough for collaboration. Most importantly, a fully stocked break room sits close to the developers for their caffeinated needs.
The executives’ offices wrap around the outside corner of the building, overlooking Cup-a-Joe and Nice Price books and grouping them, at least in observation, with some of Hillsborough Street’s most established locales. With the Hillsborough Street revitalization and the 102-foot tall, 277-apartment, mixed-use building approved in the Stanhope Plan, Lulu’s new digs will be surrounded by commercial activity and urban residences. The beginning of change for a street that NCSU has never really embraced, one day soon folks might actually show it off. If so, it will be in no small part to Lulu.com.
The new Lulu headuqarters were designed by David B Kirk, AIA at Integrated Design