Kohn Pedersen Fox is making waves with a great green renovation project that took a boring suburban office park and transformed it into a shining building designed to LEED Platinum specs. KPF extended the fourth floor of the New Jersey office building to create a new sunlight-filled entry and also re-skinned the exterior to increase performance. Like a caterpillar that transforms into a beautiful butterfly, Centra Metropark is a stellar example of how renovation can lead to better design, improved functionality and increased efficiency.
KPF convinced their real estate client to not tear down the Iselin, NJ office park, but instead let them renovate it. Originally built in the 1980s, the dreary building was surrounded by parking lots and boring manicured lawns. When KPF got a hold of it, they added a new extension to the fourth floor, which juts out over the entry courtyard, acting as an urban garden room, a new space for socializing and enjoying the outdoors. Inspired by the nearby forest preserve, the new level is supported by a sturdy tree column. The designers also stripped the exterior and re-skinned it with a state-of-the-art curtain wall and upgraded the building’s infrastructure.
Centra Metropark is conveniently located to take advantage of public transit as it is just a five minute walk away from the Amtrak and commuter rail line station. KPF also made huge improvements to the surrounding landscape, turned the lawns into grassy fields and added sunken gardens and a pyramidal landscape form, all of which help distinguish the building and give it a striking presence. The project is currently seeking LEED Platinum for this eco renovation.
The project was recently awarded an AIA National Chapter Honor Award as well as a 2013 Architizer A+ Jury Award in the office low-rise category. In the AIA citation, the jury commented, “While the context is less than desirable, 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. This project is an excellent example of the value of creatively reusing existing buildings and their embodied energy in lieu of tearing down and building new.”
Images ©Michael Moran