PRINCETON, N.J.—KSS Architects LLP recently completed a new $15 million, 200,000 square feet distribution center and warehouse for Somerset Tire Service, Inc. (STS), in the Township of Bridgewater, N.J. By remediating an environmentally contaminated site into productive use, the project exemplifies a successful model of sustainable industrial development in the State.
Completed last June, the new STS facility has become a bright spot on Interstate 287, just north of the Raritan River. Its central location and proximity to major highway arteries made the site ideal for distribution. KSS partner Edmund Klimek, AIA, said the building design expresses STS’ corporate identity while enhancing the site’s presence and identity.
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“The project illustrates principles of good planning and design,” Klimek said. “It returned a former industrial site to modern industrial use and allowed STS to continue to be a vital part of the community.”
The new STS facility illustrates the growing movement in sustainable industrial architecture in which KSS is a national leader. These “green” industrial and commercial projects reclaim brownfield sites that were left contaminated from manufacturing uses decades or even centuries ago. The new facilities are designed to have a minimal impact on the environment, are sited strategically to limit truck traffic and provide resources in the form of jobs, community activity and, with the use of renewable energy technologies, power.
After purchasing the site in the 1970s, STS discovered that a portion of the land was contaminated by the previous user. Instead of moving elsewhere to build their expansion, STS seized the opportunity to clean up the site, a choice that would maintain quality of life for its current employees and increase jobs in the local workforce.
Private and public sectors came together in this project, which received a Land Development and Planning Award from the Somerset County Planning Board in 2009. Environmental remediation was completed through the collaborative efforts of STS, KSS, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the site’s former occupant, Sherwin-Williams, and local consulting firms Stires Associates and Environmental Liability Management. The project team met regularly with Bridgewater Township Administrators to present and discuss the building’s architectural and sustainable design, both of which the board embraced.
The bold, white geometric form of the facility serves as an ideal platform for STS’ distinctive red logo. Multistory windows at the building’s entrance merge indoor and outdoor activities and bring the large scale of the building down to a welcoming human scale for occupants. A two-story wall graphic featuring iconic images of STS employees and products provides a snapshot of the company’s culture to visitors in the contemporary lobby.
The warehouse features a 32-foot clear ceiling height, 20 loading docks, 20 spaces of trailer storage, one drive-in ramp and 300 parking spaces. The state-of-the-art tire storage facility uses the latest technologies in fire protection, occupant safety measures and building organization. Located just 30 yards from the existing STS administrative office on site, the facility adds to the holistic feel of the campus. Operations and management personnel can travel easily between buildings.
The new distribution center has many sustainable features that capitalize on its scale and function. Natural daylight filters through a series of clerestory windows, reducing the need for artificial light. A white thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) roof membrane reflects rather than absorbs heat. A 1-megawatt array of photovoltaic panels on STS’ roof, now 75 percent installed, is expected to fulfill the energy needs of both the new and existing STS buildings when complete.
KSS Architects LLP is an architectural design firm with offices in Philadelphia and Princeton, N.J. Founded in 1983, KSS specializes in the design and planning of educational institutions, preK-12 schools, commercial and industrial buildings and corporate interiors. Current projects include a new campus center at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, a new distribution center for Teva Pharmaceuticals USA and a new distribution center for The Coca-Cola Company. For more information, visit www.kssarchitects.com.