Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates Receives National AIA Design Award For Iselin, N.J., Office Building
By Mel Fabrikant Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 11:35 AM EDT
Internationally Recognized Firm Honored for Transforming a Traditional Suburban Office Building, CENTRA at Metropark. Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF) has been awarded a National Honor Award by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Institute's highest honor, for its repurposing of the five-story, 110,000-square-foot CENTRA at Metropark office building located in Iselin, N.J.
The AIA is a leading professional membership association for licensed architects, emerging professionals and allied partners. Its Design Awards program recognizes works that exemplify excellence in architecture, interior architecture and urban design. CENTRA at Metropark was one of 28 recipients selected from over 700 total submissions from around the world. The awards will be conferred at the AIA 2013 National Convention and Design Exposition, which will be held in Denver, Colo., in June.
Instead of tearing down the existing structure, which was in bad condition and functioning below standards, the architect advised their client, Hampshire Real Estate Companies, to salvage valuable components and recycle the structure to work for prospective tenants.
Among their many considerations was to make CENTRA as sustainable as possible, and for it to fit in with the natural surroundings of the 19-acre site. The building was redesigned to meet the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification and has achieved a LEED Gold level.
CENTRA is located near the Garden State Parkway, west of New York City, in the heart of MetroPark Station. The station, which straddles the border between Edison, N.J., and the Iselin portion of Woodbridge Township, N.J., is the busiest New Jersey transit train station apart from the city terminals, with over 7,000 daily commuters. It also serves Amtrak.
"The impact that this building has on the Parkway has resulted in improvements of neighboring structures, proving that design can have a ripple effect in an otherwise mundane context," said the design jury.
The existing building has been made over completely, except for the overall original shape, which has become the structural support for an extended fourth floor. The original floor slabs and steel structure were retained and enclosed within a new tinted class curtain wall. The new L-shaped fourth floor projects to create, in effect, an outside lobby that spans an area appearing to exceed the square footage of each of the interior levels.
"At center stage, the powerful iconic column lifts the new addition 35 feet into the air, creating a grand canopy over the entry plaza," said Hugh Trumbull, a design principal at KPF. "It is in this new urban place, where people meet and greet one another, that nature is most present. The building frames and reframes the landscape; its skin captures the lush green environment and reflects natural light at every turn."
The jury also recognized the building as "an excellent example of the value of creatively reusing existing buildings and their embodied energy in lieu of tearing down and building new."
A desire to curb both cost and waste inspired the retrofit, says KPF senior designer Hugh Trumbull. "It's a much less expensive option, and it's also the option that makes the most sense for a client who wants to create an environmentally responsible building," he explains, emphasizing that LEED certification, though an end goal, did not take precedence over smart, responsible design choices.
The process of the renovation of what was formerly an unremarkable office building employed Rhino Modeling Software, which is used to develop and communicate concepts and design elements, cutting costs in the process. Besides sustainability, the architects also sought a synthesis between the building and the surrounding environment. The expansion of the existing building includes floor-to-ceiling glass, light wells, rainwater gardens and extensive manipulation of the landscaping.
KPF, the largest architectural firm in New York City as well as one of the largest in the world, is responsible for several world-renowned buildings including the World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C., and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. For their work on CENTRA building, KPF also won a 2011 AIA-New Jersey Honor Award, an Engineering News Record Award of Merit (2011) and the AISC IDEAS National Award for Excellence (2012).
About AIA and AIA New Jersey
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is the professional organization that helps architects serve the public's needs and builds awareness of the role of architects and architecture in American society. The organization, which was founded in 1857, recently celebrated its 150th anniversary. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., its 300 plus local chapters represent 86,000 licensed architects and associated professionals. AIA New Jersey, based in Trenton, is the local chapter of AIA. In 2000, it celebrated its 100th anniversary. AIA New Jersey has about 2,000 members in six regional sections. For more information, please visit www.aia-nj.org .
About Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates
Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF), an architectural firm responsible for several world-renowned buildings, provides architectural, interior and urban design as well as programming and master planning services for clients in both the public and private sectors. KPF is one of the largest architecture firms in the world and is currently the largest in New York City, where its headquarters are located. The firm's portfolio includes corporate, hospitality, residential, academic, civic, cultural and mixed-use projects located in more than 35 countries.