Visitor Reception Center
Grand Entrance: Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi create an uplifting gateway for a corporate campus.
Architects & Firms
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.
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:
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Architect's firm name, address, phone, and fax number:
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
MEP/FP/Security: Cosentini 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
3,350 square feet
Contact name and phone number should we have additional questions on specifications:
Concrete: Durrant Construction Inc.
Plaster Walls and Soffits: Cooper Plastering Corp.
Custom pattern acid etched glass wall tile: Nemo Tile Company, Inc.
Epoxy terrazzo flooring: D. Magnan & Co.
Exterior: Bega, DAC Lighting
Dimming System: Lutron Electronics, Inc.