Madison, NJ

It's not easy being an ugly office building in New Jersey. Drive down any suburban stretch and these dinosaurs from the 1980s languish on the roadside, lonely reminders of a time when builders thought everyone would want to work in suburbia forever. But those days are gone and now landlords can't unload these eyesores. For some developers, the best solution is to turn them into something they never were: Pretty.

When real estate giant Realogy relocated from Parsippany to its new headquarters in Madison, N.J., this spring, no one would have guessed that this light and glassy edifice was once a windowless Verizon call center. But transforming the brick tomb into an inviting structure was the best way to attract a well-heeled tenant like Realogy, the parent company for Sotheby’s, Century 21, Coldwell Banker, and others. The company, with 1,000 employees at the Madison location, leased the entire building.

“The only way we could differentiate ourselves was to build something that really was above and beyond the commodity product,” says Todd M. Anderson, a principal at Hampshire Real Estate Companies, which re-developed the three-story building. “Tenants are looking for the whole environment – the transparency, the vision, the clarity.”

Eighty percent of New Jersey’s office stock was built in the 1980s and 90s, according to a Rutgers University report. But as workers flock to city centers, office availability rates have soared to nearly 25 percent in the second quarter of 2013, according to data provided by Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, the broker for Verizon in the sale of the Madison property.

When Hampshire bought the property at 175 Park Avenue in 2009, it was a 250,000-square-foot bunker. The developer enlisted Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF) to make it a Class A facility (Hampshire declined to say how much the redevelopment cost). The building now has a gym, cafeteria, and conference room, although KPF only designed the lobby and exterior. Hampshire had worked with KPF before, transforming a bland office building in Iselin into the award-winning Centra at Metropark. “Renovations are very challenging. It’s a puzzle,” says Lloyd A. Sigal, KPF managing principal.

To bring in light in Madison, KPF cut out the building’s center, creating an entrance plaza with an expansive interior garden designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects. And to recapture the lost square footage, the architects extended the side wings, making a 275,000-square-foot building with a glass façade. The two wings flank the central lobby and courtyard, creating a sense of openness and space.

The lobby, with 60-foot tall ceilings and 16 circular skylights, has a floating staircase suspended along the garden wall and cantilevered behind a hanging feature wall. The hanging wall, with a large circular cutout, is made of a white artisanal plaster that gives it a shimmering effect. From outside of the building, employees can be seen climbing the stairs and walking along the glass-clad balconies.

The tenant used Kimmerle Newman Architects to design the interior office wings, which have an open floor plan and views of the surrounding landscape. Realogy scrapped KPF’s design for a basement level cafeteria. Instead, that space is for executive parking. The cafeteria is on an upper floor.

Suburban office buildings have a punishing reputation, immortalized in movies like 1999’s Office Space and the acclaimed television show The Office. To combat the isolation, KPF designed gathering spaces. Rather than put the main entrance on a street where pedestrians rarely tread, the entrance greets the parking lot. With a granite staircase and a canopy supported by columns wrapped in fluted terracotta, the entrance draws employees inside.

“This is the front porch of the house. It brings people together,” says Hugh H. Trumbull, III, KPF design principal. “Essentially, the building reaches out to greet you.”


Macy’s, Elina Kazan, 646-429-7448

Patina Group

Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, PLLC
44 E 32nd St New York, NY 10016
T 212.779.2288
F 212.689.1325

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Jay Valgora, Principal AIA, AICP, LEED AP (registered architect)
John MacCallum, Senior Designer, Project Manager (not registered)
Michael Bevivino, Senior Designer (not registered)
Florence Orlando, Senior Designer (not registered)
Zongye Lee, Designer (not registered)
Michael Caton, Designer (not registered)

Architect of record:
Shea, Steve Haasl
AIA 612-339-2257

Highland Associates
Tom Hauck

Highland Associates
Tom Hauck

Lighting Workshop
Doug Russell

Food Service Consultant:
Cini-Little International
Bill Eaton

General contractor:
Gilman Construction Co. Inc.
John Maloney

Bar Contractor:
Themeing Solutions
Peter Mensching

Brett Beyer

CAD system, project management, or other software used:
AutoCAD 2012, Rhinoceros, V-Ray, Grasshopper




General Contractor:  
Gilman Construction Co. Inc; John Moloney/Barna Tokay; 718-786-6166

Owners Representatives:
Macy's Inc; Erik Carlson; 513-579-7000
Stys Hospitality Initiative; Lee Alefantis; 617-839-6181

Wine & Food Glass Displays:
Refcon; Herman Jakubowski; 201-750-5060

Metal Doors (includes Stainless Entry Doors):  
JC Ryan EBCO/H&G, LTD. 631-694-0008

Wood doors:
Wesnic, Inc. Bob Hines; 1-800-874-8558

Special doors:
Security Rolling Grilles:  
Steelcraft Gate Corporation; Peter Bordonaro; 631-464-4600

Kitchen Doors:
Eliason Corporation – Easy Swing Door Division; 800-828-3655

Other special hardware:
Door Hardware:  
JC Ryan EBCO/H&G, LTD. 631-694-0008

Specialty Hardware:  
Stanley Security Solutions

Interior finishes
Formglas; Lou Guerra; 212-213-4323

Wall coverings:
Carnegie (material: Xorel); Erin Donahue; 212-627-2060
Solid surfacing:
Corian; Dave Jackson; 973-864-4780

Special surfacing:
Hirsch Glass Company (glass mosaic tiles); Perry Xie; 732-329-8988

Floor and wall tile:
Stone Source (mosaic floor in restaurant area and entrance to bathrooms: Calcutta Tucci marble); Karen Pearse; 212-979-6400

Nemo Tile (bathroom floor and wall tile material: Porcelain OXY Blackmore) (Restaurant Wall material: white metro tile); Matt Karlin 212-505-0009 ext 235                                   
Bentley Carpets; Wendy Jorgensen; 212-463-0606

Special interior finishes unique to this project:
Sculpted Marble Bar: Stone Source (material: marble; Crema Delicato); Karen Pearse; 212-979-6400

Formglas; Lou Guerra; 212-213-4323

Wood Walls:
Brookside Veneers (materials: Walnut + Avodire); Kevin Hall; 917-446-1527

Wesnic; Bob Hines; 1-800-874-8558

Wesnic; Bob Hines; 1-800-874-8558

Other furniture:
Wesnic; Bob Hines; 1-800-874-8558

DF Sales Inc; Judy Szak; 718-475-4510

Window Shades:
International Blinds; Ricky Janowitz; 212-473-3200

Bathroom Vanities:
Stone And Steel; Randy Gallob; 949-456-5554 and Excel Dryer Inc; Bill Gagnon; 413-525-2853

Interior & Exterior Signage:
Sign Design Group of New York Inc. (SDGNY) Mikhail Khalfan; 718-392-0779

Kitchen Equipment: 
Baring Industries; Todd Boger; 954-327-6700

Corian; Dave Jackson; 973-864-4780
ArcCom (fabric); Jim Lackey; 212-751-1590

Ottoman fabric:
Carnegie (material: Xorel); Erin Donahue; 212-627-2060

Ottoman fabrication:  
Wesnic; Bob Hines; 1-800-874-8558

Fabric Panels:
Roger Arlington; Pierre Frey 718-273-4500 and Katie Bungarz; 212-546-9007

Interior ambient lighting:

Niche Modern

Task lighting:
Philips/Lamar Lighting/Bartco

Dimming System or other lighting controls:

Thyssen Krupp Elevator Americas; Sean Brock; (347) 226-5215

Add any additional building components or special equipment that made a significant contribution to this project:
Fabrication of Bar:
Themeing Solutions; Peter Mensching; 702-633-4950