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Saint-Gobain completes construction of new North American headquarters

October 16, 2015

When Saint-Gobain and its CertainTeed Corp. subsidiary set out to construct a new headquarters, the goal was not only to create a dynamic space where it could attract and retain top talent but also provide a living showroom of the products it makes. 

To that end, just about everything used to build Saint-Gobain’s North America headquarters and the corporate offices of Certain-Teed at 20 Moores Road in Malvern, Pa., comes from the companies. While that created challenges at times, it also meant rising to the occasion at others.

The commitment to execute on what would be a working laboratory and showroom was deliberate and, from a marketing perspective, it will be measured not only by sales.

“Saint-Gobain and CertainTeed’s headquarters is designed to demonstrate the power our products have to improve the quality of people’s lives. It is a shining example of how innovative companies can design, construct and renovate sustainable, healthy, comfortable and environmentally friendly buildings around the world,” said John Crowe, president and CEO of Saint-Gobain and CertainTeed in a statement.

Crowe said he is willing to test the company’s products in other ways, too. The conglomerate intends to independently measure what impact the design and its products have on its employees. Are they more productive? Less sick? Happier? More engaged?

Only time will tell but just leaving the decrepit buildings off Swedesford Road in Wayne, Pa., the company has been housed in for the last four decades should give its 800 employees moving into the new space an immediate lift.

Hopefully, it’s not temporary.

The company celebrated on Thursday the completion of its new roughly $80 million, 320,000-square-foot headquarters.

It sits on 65 acres and gives it plenty of room to expand, which it expects it will do. Eli Kahn of E. Kahn Development Corp., J. Loew Associates and Aegon Realty Advisors spent the last 18 months redeveloping what was a 1960s vintage two-building complex. The redevelopment included connecting those two structures and that created more space to dedicate to common functions and lounge areas.

The exterior was designed by Bernardon, an architectural firm based in Kennett Square, Pa., and the interior by Jacobs, a Philadelphia architectural firm.

The move was long in the works and the company’s search for space turned into a saga of sorts when it was on again and off again over many years.

It finally made a decision in the spring of 2014 to move into what many refer to as the old Aegon space off Route 202.

To tour the space, it would appear the project was done from the ground up.

The design and integration of Saint-Gobain materials make the complex look advanced compared with existing offices — even those renovated or built just a couple of years ago. So few office structures incorporate all of the materials and new fangled products that were installed here. It’s no wonder. Many of the items and technology Saint-Gobain used can be expensive and so much so that any other company might think they are extravagant. But, a good marketer will create and sell products that we don’t necessarily need — at least not now.

There’s high performing “electrochromic” glass covering the exterior of the building that can lower a room temperature by 10 to 12 degrees – or even raise it in the winter all at a touch of an iPad to adjust the shading.

Acoustics in a room can be tamed by subtle panels on the wall or tiles on the ceiling.

Tired of painting your cedar siding and replacing rotten wood framing the windows? There’s a solution for that, too, and you can check it out in the company’s new cafeteria.

There are other features not man-made, such as the views of the nearby woods changing into fall colors, that also make the space attractive. A large portion of the building sits within a tree canopy. A small stream flows beneath the structure and can be viewed from an interior courtyard or even from a cubicle or seating area. A trail runs behind the property. There is a water fall that glistens with the sun. Sometimes, if you catch it just right, it looks like -— a sound wave.

All of that makes the space feel special, too.

While the materials showcase the advanced products these companies manufacture, the re-purposing of a roughly 50-year old complex into a high-tech, state-of-the-art structure that is certified LEED platinum on the interior and exterior took vision on the part of the tenant, developer and architects and they executed.

The first group of employees moves in this weekend and the remainder in phases with an expected move fully completed by the end of November.

Written by Natalie Kostelni; Published by The Philadelphia Business Journal

 

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