Novartis Campus

East Hanover, New Jersey


Novartis sorely needed a better place to greet visitors to its 230-acre campus in East Hanover, New Jersey. The existing structure wasn't welcoming and didn't accommodate a flow of people, much less offer a pleasant place to sit and wait, says the company's head engineer, Randy Dias. With a light, airy, curvilinear design, the New York architects Weiss/Manfredi sought to provide an effortless way to bring visitors in from the campus parking lot, register, and board a small shuttle to their desired destinations—“a sort of Möbius strip in its movement strategy,” says principal Marion Weiss.

Weiss, with her partner, Michael Manfredi, designed the 3,350-square-foot building as a sinuously sculptural one-story space that seems to spring from the berms in the landscape in which it is nestled. Its roof—a split-winged canopy—pays homage to Eero Saarinen's TWA Terminal at New York's JFK airport, and similarly looks as if it could soar away. The building's subterranean portions have their own precedents, ones that appear in much of Weiss/Manfredi's work, such as its Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, New York (2003), the pavilion at Seattle's Olympic Sculpture Park (2007), and, more recently, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center in New York (2012). While earlier forms resembled angular tectonic plates erupting from the ground (Ithaca and Seattle), later ones feature a serpentine curve topped by a grassy roof (Brooklyn) or this winglike apparition perching on a berm.

Working closely with Novartis's landscape architect, Michael Van Valkenburgh, the firm sought to create a noteworthy gateway building “by joining earth and sky,” in the words of Manfredi. The concrete retaining walls of the berms continue indoors, where they are surfaced in cementitious plaster. Explaining how the team arrived at an avian shape for the canopy, Manfredi says, “The desire for long spans and cantilevers led us to create a diagonal fold in the roof to express the structural dynamics of the pavilion.” The canopy's beams taper as the roof extends out and upward beyond the perimeter walls, terminating in a bladelike ¾-inch-deep edge. Inside, where beams meet the columns along the ceiling's off-center fold, the architects encased the junctures in large pleats of white gypsum board; the billowing effect enhances the play of light above, as does the white epoxy terrazzo floor below.

To gain as much light and view as possible for the interior, Weiss/Manfredi enclosed the perimeter walls in self-supporting glass—with five lites for a 2¾-inch thickness. Since the canopy shields much of the glass, which also has an energy-efficient coating, there is little need to worry about sun load. Along with other sustainable measures, such as a solar panel array on an extension to the south, the architects were able to qualify for a LEED Gold rating for the structure.

Although small in size, the visitor center brings together a number of ingenious design strategies and advances the evolution of Weiss/Manfredi's earthbound work. In addition, the pavilion signifies the pharmaceutical company's optimism about its stature in a global economy and about architecture's place within Novartis's corporate culture.


Formal name of building:
Visitor Reception

East Hanover, New Jersey

Completion Date:
January 2013

Gross square footage:
3,350 gsf

Total construction cost:
Provided by Owner

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation

Architect's firm name, address, phone, and fax number:
200 Hudson Street, Floor 10
New York, NY 10013
T: 212-760-9002
F: 212-760-9003

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Marion Weiss, FAIA and Michael A. Manfredi, FAIA, Design Partners
Christopher Ballentine, RA, Project Manager
Matthew Ferraro, LEED AP BD+C (Project Architect); Justin Kwok, LEED-AP (Project Architect);
Johnny Lin, Andrew Ruggles (Core Team Members)
Clifton Balch, RA, Michael Blasberg, RA, Todd Hoehn, Hyoung-Gul Kook, AIA, Lee Lim (Supporting Team Members)

Interior designer:

Structural Engineer: Severud Associates

MEP/FP/Security: Cosentini Associates

Curtain Wall: Heintges & Associates

Renewable Energy Consultant: RELAB

Lighting Design: Brandston Partnership, Inc.

Cost Estimator: David Langdon (AECOM)

Code & Life Safety: Code Consultants, Professional Engineers, PC

Waterproofing: James R. Gainfort, AIA Consulting Architects, PC

Construction Manager:
Sordoni Construction Company

© Paul Warchol
T: 212-431-3461

© Albert Vecerka/Esto
T: 914-698-4060


3,350 square feet

Completion date:

January 2013



Contact name and phone number should we have additional questions on specifications:
Allison Wicks, WEISS/MANFREDI, 212-760-9002

Structural system
PV Steel Fabricator: Weir Welding Company Inc.

Concrete: Durrant Construction Inc.

Exterior cladding
Curtain wall: Seele, Inc.

Plaster Walls and Soffits: Cooper Plastering Corp.

Standing Seam Metal Roof: Custom Exterior Systems Inc.

Glass: sedak GmbH & Co. KG, AGC Interpane Glas Industrie AG

Entrances: Blumcraft of Pittsburg

Interior finishes
Cabinetwork and custom woodwork: Sloan & Company

Custom pattern acid etched glass wall tile: Nemo Tile Company, Inc.

Epoxy terrazzo flooring: D. Magnan & Co.

Interior custom uplighting: Cooper Lighting

Exterior: Bega, DAC Lighting

Dimming System: Lutron Electronics, Inc.

Photovoltaic system: Sunpower Corporation