MALVERN, PA—(SBN)—After decades of neglect, a former Bethlehem Steel headquarters building in this Chester County suburb of Philadelphia has been redeveloped into a glistening new, LEED-certified North American headquarters for Saint-Gobain, one of the world’s largest building materials companies. And the project wasn’t easy to complete, according to Eli Kahn, president of E. Kahn Development, which spearheaded the project.
(StateBroadcastNews.com covered the office dedication ceremony for its news content partner, GlobeSt.com. You can read that story here.)
“It’s been almost a decade that our team has been working on this project, designing, engineering, imaginging, marketing and envisioning the transformation of these 1960s decaying office buildings into the finished office building you see behind you,” he told several hundred attendees at the ribbon cutting.
You can see the opening ceremonies and comments by officials in a video news report in the player below.
“The primary challenge in any green building development is finding a customer who shares the same vision and is willing to support and invest in green technologies,” Kahn recalled in an exclusive interview with GlobeSt.com. “Once you find that customer, the process is actually pretty smooth because the products you are using are state-of-the-art, the building becomes a higher-end product.”
Redeveloping the building was particularly satisfying, says Kahn, because it replaced a building that had become an eyesore with a modern showplace for corporate office design.
Bethlehem Steel used a new kind of steel for the construction of the exterior shell of the building, called CorTen steel, that was supposed to develop a patina over time, he says. “The actual steel oxidized and rust coated the windows. So for 40 years of occupancy of this building, the tenants had windows covered with rust because it was too expensive to keep cleaning it. To see that building turned into this, it’s the most satisfying project I’ve ever been involved with.”
The building, which becomes Saint-Gobain’s new, state-of-the-art North American corporate headquarters, is located at 20 Moores Road in Malvern, PA. The 320,000-square-foot campus, situated on 65 acres, underwent a renovation over the past 18 months to transform the long-dormant site into a dynamic showcase for Saint-Gobain and its North American construction materials subsidiary, CertainTeed Corporation.
Saint-Gobain timed the opening ceremony for the exact day Saint-Gobain was founded 350 years ago by King Louis XIV of France to manufacture glass for the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles near Paris.
“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,” says John Crowe, president and CEO of Saint-Gobain and CertainTeed Corporations.
In addition to E. Kahn Development Corp., J. Loew & Associates and AEGON USA Realty Advisors led the headquarters’ redesign. The building is a high-performance, sustainable building designed to achieve the highest level of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the US Green Building Council (USGBC).
In April 2014, Saint-Gobain signed a long-term lease for the campus that will be the workplace of more than 800 employees across Saint-Gobain and CertainTeed.
The expanded campus is also home to CertainTeed’s Malvern Innovation Center, which opened in October 2014, and marks the first time the company’s local research and operations teams will share a site. The new headquarters incorporates an open-concept office space; 116 collaborative spaces; a cafeteria, along with other food and beverage spaces; a fitness facility; a pond; a fountain installation; and 1.3 miles of walking trails.
Key project members included Bernardon as the designer for the exterior and lobby; Jacobs as the designer for the interior; D. Fickler Construction as the contractor; and Binswanger as the real estate broker and project manager.
The headquarters showcases 40 products – eight on the exterior and 32 in the interior – from Saint-Gobain’s family of companies, including CertainTeed Corporation, SageGlass, Saint-Gobain Glass, Saint-Gobain ADFORS and Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics. Saint-Gobain selected the products to achieve energy efficiency, sustainability, indoor environmental quality, acoustic and aesthetic goals.
The company says it also incorporated sustainable construction practices into the building:
- Approximately 79 percent of construction and demolition waste was diverted from landfill disposal.
- Materials in the building were carefully selected to contain high levels of recycled content. Post-consumer and -industrial recycled content reduced the negative impact resulting from the extraction and processing of raw materials.
- Special consideration was given to selecting locally manufactured materials. For example, furniture workstations were manufactured in East Greenville, PA, and Toronto, Ontario, Canada. By specifying locally manufactured materials, less energy was spent to bring the products to the site.
- This project will achieve significant water savings through the use of low-flow plumbing fixtures. The project is projected to use 40 percent less water than a conventional office building, saving 640,000 gallons of water per year.
- Interior finishes and furnishings installed in the building were specified to contain little or no VOCs. For example, low-emitting products used included adhesives, sealants, paints, coatings, flooring, composite wood and furniture. Reducing the amount of VOCs entering the building provides a safer and healthier environment for building occupants.
- In an effort to significantly reduce the number of miles employees travel to and from the campus the company is providing bicycle storage facilities, preferred parking for low-emission and fuel-efficient vehicles, electric vehicle charging stations and a free shuttle service to and from the Paoli Station, which services Amtrak and SEPTA trains, for employees who choose to commute from Center City and other areas.
Steve Lubetkin is the news director for StateBroadcastNews.com. Steve’s journalism background includes print and broadcast reporting for NJ news organizations.
In May 2019, he began anchoring and reporting for the new weekly podcast, “The CRE News Hour,” a news and features program focusing on the commercial real estate industry.
From 2014 to 2019 he was New Jersey and Philadelphia editor for GlobeSt.com and filled in covering Chicago/Midwest and Atlanta.
He has won numerous awards for his audio and video news reporting from the Garden State Journalists Association, and he has also been recognized for video by the New Jersey Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He has produced audio podcasts on CRE topics for the NAR Commercial Division and the CCIM Institute.
Steve has also served (from August 2017 to March 2018) as national broadcast news correspondent for CEOReport.com, a news website focused on practical advice for senior executives in small- and medium-sized companies.
Steve also reports on-camera and covers conferences for NJSpotlight.com, a public policy news coverage website focused on New Jersey government and industry; and for clients of StateBroadcastNews.com, a division of The Lubetkin Media Companies LLC.
In March 2021, he was elected to the board of directors of the New Jersey Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Steve has been the computer columnist for the Jewish Community Voice of Southern New Jersey, since 1996.
You can email Steve at email@example.com.