A contract research organization, based in France with offices in Paris, London and Montreal, strategically sought a North American Headquarters. Setting a precedent for future city development, the architect was engaged for the first phase of the research organization’s master plan located in the University Heights Science Park of Newark, NJ. In the project’s preliminary stages ensuring the confidentiality of the laboratory, pharmacy and clinical facility operations was paramount in the building’s design, layout and overall conception.
Two Interlocking Planes
The architect’s basic concept of the five-story building is formed by two interlocking planes; one plane comprises primarily of solid black brick with matching mortar and the other plane encompasses a fritted curtain wall. A ribbon of metal panels ties the two planes together and represents the fluid nature of chemistry and science. This metal ribbon begins on the private side of the building, forming the canopy, and continues inside the building, where it becomes the lobby ceiling. It emerges on the public side as a frame for the vestibule.
A Building Design of Contrast
Although the 70,000 GSF building is considered modest, the architect was inspired to design an iconic structure that reflects the high quality nature and state-of-the-art clinical practices. This design concept also incorporated a balancing act between the open versus restricted – both contrasting approaches were carefully contemplated.
The architect was motivated by the research organization’s desire to build enduring relationships with clients and to have an impactful and dynamic North American Headquarters. A taller five-story building with smaller plates was opted for and the relatively narrow long floors allow natural light to penetrate deeply into the interior spaces. This design also gave the building a feeling of grandeur that was appropriate within its urban setting.
The Ground Floor
With a continuous glazed wall, sunlight penetrates into the two-story lobby. A grand staircase accesses a bridge connecting the two sides of the second floor and the upper floors of the building appear to hover above this transparent base. The two-story lobby runs through the building, connecting two exterior plazas.
Multiple Streams of Influence
Despite the regulatory demands brought on by the research organization, the resulting structure is far from conventional. The architectural approach has maximized the building’s impact and the lobby design leaves visitors and clients with a strong impression of the research organization’s expertise, state-of-the-art practices and cutting-edge services within the highly-competitive life sciences industry.