28 November 2011

SHI – A Story in Sustainability

By: Donna M. Miller, Associate AIA, LEED AP 

The new world headquarters for SHI International Corporation has been an exciting and significant project for both the client and for Cornerstone Architectural Group. This project signifies tremendous growth for our client and a physical representation of their dedication to sustainability with their first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified headquarters. It is also the first LEED project designed by Cornerstone Architectural Group. 

Cornerstone Architectural Group has been involved with the LEED process for SHI International’s new headquarters since the beginning, sparking the client’s original interest in LEED. The initial presentation made by the design team included a list of achievable points based on the Cornerstone’s design standards and characteristics inherent in the existing building. 

The project consists of building infrastructure upgrades and a 220,000 square foot interior alteration that anticipates LEED Commercial Interior (CI) Silver certification. The design includes sustainable strategies such as: an energy efficient lighting design, naturally lit open offices, occupancy sensors, water efficient plumbing fixtures, low VOC finishes, zero irrigation landscaping, and a 500 kW photovoltaic array that will be installed end of 2011/ beginning of 2012. The team took sustainability and air quality even further and instituted construction waste recycling, a paperless submittal process, and the creation of a tobacco free campus.  

The most successful design strategies implemented were the energy efficient lighting design coupled with the naturally lit open office space, and the water efficient plumbing fixtures. 

The existing building consisted of open office floor plates with central cores and ribbon windows around the perimeter, allowing natural light deep into the space. The design team took advantage of this and kept the plan open, with private offices into the corners of the plan, allowing natural light into both the offices and open office spaces. The energy efficient lighting design included direct-indirect lighting fixtures that were centered over the open office furniture, as well as a task lighting component. This allowed people to customize the light level in their space. This lighting design was mocked up for the client to ensure them that there would be comfortable lighting levels. The lighting design resulted in a 35% reduction in the lighting power density. 

The water efficient design for SHI International allowed the team to anticipate a 40% reduction in water usage. This was achieved by using low flow toilets, waterless urinals, and automatic sink faucets. This design is anticipated to achieve 12 points toward LEED Silver Certification. 

Outside of the design aspect of this sustainable project, Cornerstone Architectural Group coordinated the design team, set goals for the LEED Certification, and kept the team on task with these goals. We also coordinated the construction staff, and made frequent site visits to ensure that the intent of the design was being carried out. In continued sustainability awareness, Cornerstone Architectural Group will be teaching a course to SHI International’s facilities staff about sustainability and the LEED GA exam.

21 November 2011

SHI-ning Above

For the past year, Cornerstone Architectural Group has been an integral part in designing and implementing the fit out of the SHI International Corporation’s world headquarters in Somerset, New Jersey.  In 2007, Cornerstone had been part of the design and construction management team that had created SHI’s previous headquarters in Piscataway, New Jersey.  Since then, SHI outgrew its space and again turned to Cornerstone to help master plan for their current and future growth.    Deemed to be one of the largest fit-out projects in the Tri-state area, SHI wanted a space that was open, employee-friendly, and environmentally sound.  In addition, Cornerstone was presented with the task of anticipating future job force growth within SHI’s workforce and worked closely with each department’s managers to ensure space planning and anticipated growth needs were appropriately met.

Much of the interior space in the new headquarters was set aside to be utilized as open office space.  Part of this design concept centered around keeping the focus on the existing structure’s ribbon window design to allow for natural light to stream into a majority of the office areas.  Cornerstone utilized a revolutionary lighting design that involved spreading the direct/indirect lighting sources to an unheard of 18-foot on center spacing.   This allows the light fixture to be over every spine of the furniture system and allowing light to be placed on the functional work surface.  This design, along with personalized lighting systems, allowed Cornerstone to provide employees with the appropriate lighting but also enabled an eco-friendly decrease in the amount of electricity being consumed.

A majority of the open work spaces were kept in the central portion of the building to allow for the open floor plan, while private office spaces were cut out from the existing saw-toothed areas of the building’s structure.  The Cornerstone design team attempted to utilize and integrate as many of the building’s existing strengths to create a plan that addressed the client’s needs but allowed for the minimal amount of demolition to the building’s original partitions.  One of SHI’s main needs was to have an ample amount of meeting spaces, a need that was magnified as the company has grown.  The demand for formal, informal, and quick gathering places was met by integrating a large number of conference and meeting spaces into the design on every floor.   In addition to adjusting the layout to serve the client needs, Cornerstone completely revamped and replaced the building’s entire infrastructure, including new chiller plants, cooling towers, building control systems, fire alarm system, and roofing system.

The SHI project was not only focused on designing office space, but several other unique amenities and services to serve the unique needs of SHI’s work force.   A 3000-square foot gym facility was included in the fit out and includes a free weight area, machine space, and group exercise room.   A comprehensive 3000-square foot CafĂ© was designed to serves nearly 1000 employees for 2 meals a day and includes bistro-inspired finishes and state-of-the art kitchen amenities.   A specialized healthcare clinic as well as several mothering rooms were integrated into the design plan to meet the diverse needs of the staff and their families in order to make a wellness-focused place of employment.  In keeping with the wellness-centered philosophy, small details such as a marked walking path and exterior basketball areas were an integral and important portion of the building design.  Bright and fun colors liven and enrich the exit stairwells, encouraging employees to utilize the staircases instead of taking the elevator in the 5-story building.
As the project architect, Marco Migliaro Assoc. AIA, was involved from start to finish of this nearly year-long process. With this project having many phases, Marco managed the four main project phases which included the infrastructure upgrades, roof replacement, fit out, and SHI cloud data center. He was also intimately involved in coordination of services between the project  manager (Jones Lang LaSalle), building systems engineering firm (Becht Engineering BT), civil engineering firm (The Reynolds Group), as well as the coordination of three different contractors, including Tuner Construction, Unity Construction, and Strober-Wright Roofing.  Marco was on-site for a majority of the project in order to provide site-based problem solving and design coordination, as well as being a continuous resource for the client.

Another unique aspect of this project was utilizing a paperless system of coordination and communication.  This was accomplished by using online resources and web-based services such as Dropbox and Submittal Exchange.  Submittal Exchange is an online service that provides a portal for submitting everything from RFIs, submittals, and close out documentation.  This service automatically tracks and logs all items and sends out emails to all involved parties, including clients, the architect, consultants, contractors and even subcontractors.  In addition, all drawings were completed in a DWF format, which is an AutoDesk file similar to a PDF but more practical for architectural application.

Cornerstone and SHI have had a great working relationship and Cornerstone looks forward to future projects in 2012 and beyond, which include a customer briefing center and future fit outs of the remaining office space.  This project has been a unique opportunity that has allowed Cornerstone Architectural Group to utilize state-of-the art communication, unique design concepts and environmentally-forward building materials to meet the needs of a technology-forward company.

Project Photos by JDN Photography

18 November 2011

New Life and Remembrance

Thank You to Donna Miller and Jason Peist for this beautiful shot of the 9-11 Memorial and the One WTC Freedom Tower from your visit on November 12th.

The Memorial remembers and honors the nearly 3,000 people who died in the horrific attacks of February 26, 1993 and September 11, 2001. The Memorial consists of two massive pools set within the footprints of the Twin Towers, with the largest manmade waterfalls in the country cascading down their sides. They are a powerful reminder of the Twin Towers and of the unprecedented loss of life from an attack on our soil. The names of the individuals who were killed in the September 11 attacks in New York City, Pennsylvania, the Pentagon, and the February 1993 World Trade Center bombing are inscribed around the edges of the Memorial pools.

Soaring above the city at 1,776 feet, One World Trade Center will be America's tallest building, and an indelible New York landmark. One WTC incorporates advanced life-safety systems that exceed New York City building code requirements. From structural redundancy to dense fireproofing to biochemical filters, it creates a new standard for high-rise buildings. Extra-wide pressurized stairs, multiple backups on emergency lighting, and concrete protection for all sprinklers will ensure optimal firefighter access. Exits are designed to ensure easy evacuation, and all safety systems will be encased in the core wall, with enhanced elevators. Safe, Sustainable, and Artistically Dynamic. One WTC will stand as a shining beacon for New York's transformed Downtown.

If you would like to visit the Memorial site also, follow this link; http://www.911memorial.org/visit 

17 November 2011

2011 IIDA Holiday Social

On Tuesday, November 15th the New Jersey Chapter of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) hosted their 2011 Holiday Social, "Soup and Cider by the Fire", at Avila Fine Arts in Bedminster, NJ. Attendees sipped on hot soup and cider around an outdoor bonfire as planning for the 2012 year commenced. The event was well attended by nearly 40 designers, architects and representatives. The NJ IIDA has taken an exciting new direction with the help of newly appointed directors Scott Marchio of The Aztec Corporation (left) and Erin Jimenez of Cornerstone Architectural Group (right). The pair is working hard to breathe new life into the organization, with much success. Keep your eyes open for more great events hosted by the NJ IIDA.

The IIDA promotes the interaction between Architects, Interior Designers and industry representatives. The mission of the chapter is; "To enhance the quality of life through excellence in interior design, and to advance interior design through knowledge, value and community".


11 November 2011

SHI International Opens New Doors in Somerset, NJ

On November 10, 2011, almost 1,000 special guests attended the ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the grand opening of SHI International Corporation’s world headquarters building in Somerset, NJ. New Jersey Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno delivered the keynote speech to the standing room only audience in the three story high main atrium. SHI’s CEO Thai Lee spoke of the new facility and praised the design team, project managers and builders for their collaborative efforts to deliver the project in less than one year from commencement to completion. SHI occupies more than 50 percent of the 440,000 square feet within the building. Through continued growth, SHI looks to fully occupy the building very soon. LEED Silver certification for Commercial Interiors is anticipated early next year from the USGBC. The interior design implements the best green design practices; including water conservation, energy efficiency, innovative interior lighting design, and the use of recycled materials. Office space for SHI’s Operations, Sales, Accounting, Marketing, IT, Web and Training staff are all contained within the five-story building. A world class data center design solution by the Cornerstone team provides SHI’s newest business venture with a state-of-the-art cloud computing platform. A multi-phase project designed by the Cornerstone design team includes: Interior fit-out for SHI, Roof replacement, a Roof top mounted photovoltaic panel system, Upgraded building automation and fire alarm systems, and a Cloud computing center. Cornerstone is proud to have been part of this most important project, and to have partnered with an outstanding Owner, Design, Management and Construction team that included; Becht Engineering, The Reynolds Group, McQuilkin Associates, Carrol Engineering, JLL, Unity Construction Services, and Turner Construction. CAG’s in house team included; Robert Barranger AIA – Partner in Charge, Marco Migliaro Assoc. AIA – Project Manager, Erin Jimenez IIDA – Interior Designer, Donna Miller Assoc AIA – Project Designer, and Vito Tamborrino AIA – Construction Administrator.