Courtesy Red Bull Music Academy

Red Bull Music Academy New York



New York, USA

Red Bull North America

Red Bull Music Academy

38,200 SF

Executive Architect

SLAB Architecture PLLC, New York, USA

Environmental Graphics / Wayfinding

MTWTF, New York, USA

Lighting Design

Tillotson Design Associates, New York, USA

Structural Engineering

Buro Happold, New York, USA


Kam Chiu Associates, New York, USA

Owner's Representative

Lisa Tilney, New York, USA


INABA was commissioned by Red Bull Music Academy to transform four floors of a vacant building in New York's Chelsea neighborhood into a model learning environment. Dramatic walls and lighting create unique collaborative work areas in place of the traditional classroom.


Curving walls throughout the 38,000 square foot forum shape the distinct spaces. On the ground level the walls extend far into the former warehouse allowing passersby and users unrestricted views across the floor. They show a cross section of the types of activity taking place which include performances, private workshops, music production, and broadcasting, and revealing that the space is different in its use from the shops, galleries, and cafés of the area. Below, on the cellar level, the arcing walls of the capsule-shaped lounge are interrupted only to establish long views from the recording studio located at the south end to the open-air patio at the north. On one of the upper floors, the similarly rounded walls enclose eight collaborative music studio pods.


Since learning occurs in different kinds of contexts, the two lower levels are organized to provide a range of spaces for discussion and collaboration. Their central areas accommodate big gatherings like receptions and performances. People can interact for an extended period of time in more personal settings nearby including a living room-like auditorium, radio studio, production studio, rehearsal room, and several lounges.


In an interior that is used at all hours of the day, the lighting plays a key role in establishing the architectural atmosphere. During the day the central area on the ground level receives generous amounts of natural light from high floor-to-ceiling windows, while at night it is illuminated by rows of warm-colored custom-fabricated neon fixtures. The overall lighting is accented with various feature elements like diffused LED lighting that illuminates the radio studio and a programmable LED system that focuses light on rows of acrylic tubes above the bar. The cellar lounge has a low ceiling embedded with hundreds of linear LED fixtures to create a distributed field of light. Curved FRG light diffusers lend an intimate quality to the auditorium while the ceiling structure supports light riggings for more theatrical effects. In smaller ancillary spaces, colored neon and grazing fixtures are employed in combination with high saturation paint.


Honors and Awards:

- AIANY Design Merit Award 2014

- Architizer A+ Workspace Jury Award 2014

- International Association of Lighting Designers Award of Excellence, 2014

- GE Edison Lighting Award, 2013

- Core 77 Design Merit Award, 2014



- Architectural Record

Mark Magazine




Vice Motherboard

New York Times 

Project Team

Design: INABA, New York, USA

Principal: Jeffrey Inaba

Project Lead: Ostap Rudakevych

Project Team: Yoichiro Mizuno, Alan Kwan, Sean Connolly, Steven Tsai, Shuning Zhao, Allyn Hughes, Stephanie Lee, Richard Yoo


Executive Architect: SLAB Architecture PLLC, New York, USA

Principal: Jill Leckner

Project Architect: Matt Voss

Project Team: Laura Trevino, Min Chen


Environmental Graphics / Wayfinding: MTWTF, New York, USA

Principal: Glen Cummings

Project Team: Aliza Dzik, Pedro Goncalves, Ly Le, Virginia Chow, Farzin Lofti-Jam


Lighting Design: Tillotson Design Associates, New York, USA

Principal: Suzan Tillotson

Project Designers: Erin de Vries, Christopher Cheap


Structural Engineering: Buro Happold, New York, USA

Associate Partner: Cristobal Correa

Project Engineer: Jeff Thompson


MEP: Kam Chiu Associates, New York, USA

Principal: Kam Chiu