Location Florham Park, NJ
Size 325,000 ft²
Program Office space
When the German chemical corporation BASF needed a new North American headquarters, in typical fashion of most European countries today, it had to be green. So the company enlisted the help of the Rockefeller Group Development Corporation, and vice president Clark Machemer and his team got to work designing a building that would reflect the spirit of BASF. The resulting structure, located in Florham Park, New Jersey, is modern and sustainably built, emphasizing connectivity in the workspace and the minimization of water and energy consumption.
Completed in May 2012, the BASF headquarters is one of only five buildings in the country with dual LEED Platinum certifications, having earned top marks under both the Core & Shell and Commercial Interiors ratings. Its energy consumption is estimated to be 20 percent less than conventionally designed buildings.
Developer Rockefeller Group Development Corporation
Client BASF Corporation
Architect Kohn Pedersen Fox
Interior Architect Gensler
General Contractor Turner Construction
LEED Consultant Design Management Services
Machemer points to three driving factors in the creation of the five-story, 325,000-square-foot office space: sustainability, BASF’s people, and BASF’s products. It is the last that is noteworthy for its inventiveness. When the Rockefeller Group suggested the idea of using BASF products—even those that had not previously been used in construction—BASF immediately agreed. All told, the team managed to integrate more than 100 of the company’s products into the building. “That became the driving force of the project,” Machemer says.
Most building projects are challenging enough in terms of dealing with the given costs and time frame, not to mention the added work associated with green certifications, but Machemer says it was worth the effort to prioritize the special products. “We wanted to represent who they are as a company by incorporating BASF products into the building but also make it cost-effective,” he says. Key sustainable features of the building include a polyurethane spray-foam insulation, porous pavement in the outdoor patio, and BASF’s own Elastospray high-performance SPF roofing and Elastocoat elastomeric roof coatings.
It was in one of the Rockefeller Group’s design meetings with Turner Construction that Machemer realized how cutting-edge the building really was. Representatives from Turner mentioned that implementing the unique under-floor-air HVAC system was something new for them. “That really opened up my eyes,” Machemer recalls. This innovative system improves air quality because air coming through the floor, rather than diffused through the ceiling, reduces the dispersion of air contaminates.
Certifications LEED-CS Platinum and LEED-CI Platinum
Materials BASF-made products, locally sourced materials
Water 40% reduction via low-flow fixtures, filtered rainwater used for toilets and irrigation
Mechanical Under-floor-air HVAC system
Energy 20% reduction compared with conventional office building
Landscape Native and noninvasive plants that require 85% less water
The contemporary design includes a façade with 20-foot cantilevers at both ends, coupled with vertical stone fins and horizontal sunshades on the building’s exterior to reduce heat load from the sun. Low-flow plumbing fixtures reduce indoor water use by 40 percent, and rainwater is filtered, cleaned, and reused both as irrigation and as the primary water source for the building’s toilets. The landscaping features native and noninvasive plants that require 85 percent less water than typical plantings.
Overall, the building integrates sustainable interior and exterior elements; it’s a new class of Class A building, Machemer says. And yet, “It’s what is within the walls that’s important,” he adds, referring to the 1,400 BASF employees who will spend a substantial portion of their weekdays inside the new building. “You don’t want to lose sight of that while you’re on the project,” he says. “You’re building a structure where there will be people.”
The Rockefeller Group never lost sight of those individuals. The interior is laden with bright and open spaces and amenities for meetings and breakout sessions. Machemer says that you can see people working from the outside because of all the windows. “Once the building was fully occupied, I spent 30 minutes driving around it, watching the people inside collaborating,” he says. “You can really see it happening.”
During its construction, too, Machemer took a walk through the building every few weeks and, even then, never once had to use a flashlight since 75 percent of the building is lit by natural light. This and many other green features are the details that combine to create a positive and energizing vibe within this new corporate headquarters—precisely the experience one would expect from the company it houses.