On October 15th, our team joined local dignitaries and employees of Saint-Gobain and its CertainTeed Corp. subsidiary to celebrate the official opening of their new North American headquarters. For this project, Nave Newell secured land development approvals and an NPDES permit within a Special Protection Watershed in less than 3 months. Within 18 months, the site was transformed from vacant offices void of any stormwater management controls to a high-performance sustainable complex that enhances the environment.
Saint-Gobain opened its new North American headquarters Thursday after an 18-month renovation project that was likened to a phoenix rising from the ashes.
“A green building rising from a brownfield … an environmentally spectacular building,” one of the speakers, U.S. Green Building Council President Roger Platt, called it during a presentation in front of the sprawling glass-façade building at 20 Moores Road near Malvern.
State Rep. Duane Milne said the property, once home to the National Liberty and Aegon insurance companies but vacant for about a decade, had taken on the appearance of “an abandoned Hollywood movie set.”
“Seeing your (Saint Gobain) sign as I was driving here (along Route 202), it reminded me of the phoenix rising from the ashes,” said Milne, R-167th of Willistown, who spoke along with State Rep. Warren Kampf, R-157th of Tredyffrin, state Sen. Andy Dinniman and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.
“This is a great example of recycling at its highest level,” Milne said.
Saint-Gobain, one of the world’s largest building materials companies, officially opened its state-of-the-art North American corporate headquarters with tours of the building that features many of the products the company makes itself.
Saint Gobain said it expects the building, introduced on the 350th anniversary of its founding, to become the only commercial building in Pennsylvania to have an interior and exterior that is LEED Platinum certified.
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 its CertainTeed subsidiary.
The 277,000-square-foot building on the 65-acre property will give the company space to add workers. There is also room on the campus to put up new buildings if there is a need in the future.
The expanded campus is also home to the CertainTeed’s 43,000-square-foot Malvern Innovation Center, which opened in October 2014, marking the first time the company’s local research and operations teams will share a site.
The new headquarters also boasts significant 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.
John Crowe, president and CEO of Saint-Gobain and CertainTeed corporations, said the company had been looking for a new headquarters building for some eight years after it had decided it needed to move from its Valley Forge location.
After discussing it, the company decided it had to stay within 10 miles of Valley Forge to keep its valued workforce.
“This is nine miles” from the former Valley Forge headquarters, Crowe said Thursday as the ceremony was about to start. “We thought about the city but we thought that would be too disruptive. At the end of the day, this site offered the most potential.”
Saint-Gobain has a 15-year lease on the property, with the intention of staying “much longer,” Crowe said.
The E. Kahn Development Corp. and J. Loew & Associates Inc., both of Downingtown, in collaboration with Aegon USA Realty Advisors LLC, led the headquarters’ redesign.
Eli Kahn put the price tag for the project “in the $80 million range,” including $6.5 million for the glass façade.
“To work with a building materials company that wanted to build a showcase … to have that opportunity, that is what is spectacular,” Kahn said.
Speaking to employees at the opening ceremony, Kahn called the experience of working on the project, “overwhelming.”
He said he had tried to sell the idea of the renovation project to many CEOs over the last seven or eight years, but “not one of them had the guts” to take it on.
“The final result would not have been possible without John Crowe and his company,” Kahn said. “John Crowe challenged us to deliver an iconic building.”
The headquarters showcases 40 products Saint Gobain and CertainTeed sell. Highly featured in the building is its SageGlass, which Saint Gobain bills as “the world’s smartest electronchromic glass.”
Other dignitaries speaking the opening were Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Mike Stack and Karen P. Butler, National Manager of ENERGY STAR Commercial Building Design of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Touting the “green” aspects of the project and of Saint Gobain’s role in making such products, Dinniman said its opening was “an historic moment for Chester County.”
“To have that here in this county is something to celebrate,” Dinniman said.