In this Defined Design, we try to boil down the experience of Kohn Pedersen Fox‘s workplace renovation at the Centra building in New Jersey, a project that should have employees cheering from the rooftops.

trans·mute (verb) \tran(t)s-ˈmyüt\
The old Centra building, located in Iselin, New Jersey, and owned by the Hampshire Companies, was a 1980s glass and concrete-block structure in dire need of revitalization. Respondent to a $20 million RFP, Kohn Pedersen Fox turned the 80,000-square-foot structure inside out and is striving for LEED Platinum certification.

multi·form (adj) \ˈməl-ti-ˌfȯrm\
The new Centra building, completed in 2011, remains a four-story structure but provides an additional 30,000 square feet of office space, aided in part by the expanded fourth story supported by an iconic, asymmetrical tree-like structure, made of one-inch-thick plate steel connected with 300,000 steel studs.


Location Iselin, NJ
Size 80,000 ft2
Completed 2011
Architect Kohn Pedersen Fox
Landscape Architect Towers Golde
Construction Tishman Construction
Client Hampshire Companies

di·ver·si·ty (noun) \də-ˈvər-sə-tē\
Respondent to the orthogonal elements of the Centra building, whose entire envelope is flanked with tinted glass walls, the surrounding landscape features pyramid-shaped stone forms created by landscape architects Towers Golde that diversify the structural context.

il·lu·mi·nate (verb) \i-ˈlü-mə-nət\
Sunken gardens and floor-to-ceiling Viracon windows, in clear and gray glass, allow ambient light to reach all corners of the interior, including the previously unused 20,000-square-foot basement. A rectangular opening is cut in the center of the expanded fourth floor, allowing light to reach the center of the building.

re·use (verb) \ˌrē-ˈyüz\
Inspired by a limited budget and sustainable efforts, Tishman Construction was able to perform a selective demolition of the old building by reusing $4.5 million worth of materials and preserving 45 percent of the building core.