Centra at Metropark could very well be the model for resurrecting the world’s overabundance of functionally obsolete, decades-old suburban office buildings. This L-shaped building in Iselin, N.J., lay vacant and was sheathed in a dated curtainwall. But Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates saw its potential and dissuaded its client from doing a complete teardown.
The building was stripped down to its structural frame, and a new floor was added to the top, which effectively expands the footprint at that level into a square. The additional 10,000 square feet is supported by a monumental “tree” column, and the wood-slat-clad overhang shelters a new entry plaza. “I thought this project was important as a radical transformation that also makes an effort to address sustainable issues,” juror Ted Landsmark said. “There’s so much banality in those office parks that I think it’s important … to bring a higher design sense to them.” In addition to improving the building’s overall efficiency with a new double-glazed, low-E curtainwall, a high-albedo roof, low-flow fixtures, and tunable office lighting, the architects also sought to improve the site with water-efficient landscaping.
Users enter the reimagined building via a bridge that spans a large sunken-garden lightwell. This void allows daylight to flood a previously dormant 20,000-square-foot basement, which is now used as office space. “It seems like a fun place to work, for sure,” juror Hilary Sample said, “and really sort of challenging its context.” Hopefully, the improvements will inspire other developers to bring new life to other rundown suburban structures in the area.
Centra at Metropark, Iselin, N.J.
Client The Hampshire Cos.
Architect Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, New York—Lloyd Sigal, AIA (managing principal-in-charge); Eugene Kohn, FAIA (principal-in-charge); Devin Ratliff, AIA (project manager); Hugh Trumbull, AIA (senior designer); Alex Adarichev, Sam Leung, Gregory Mell, AIA, Allison Weinstein (project team)
Structural Engineer DeSimone Consulting Engineers
M/E/P/FP Engineer AMA Consulting Engineers
Landscape Architect Towers Golde
Lighting Designer S + S Lighting Design
Contractor Tishman Construction
Size 110,000 gross square feet
Photograph Michael Moran Photography