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Watch Case Factory

Watch Case Factory

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Client Confidential Client

Location Riverside, NJ

Scope 151,500 SF

Located near the Delaware River, the historic Keystone Watch Case Company building stands as a beacon to industry in the area.

Once the world’s largest manufacturer of pocket watch cases, the company operated in the site’s two buildings: the 6-story factory built in 1908 and the beautifully ornate head house built in 1852. As pocket watches fell out of fashion, the company ceased operation, leaving the site vacant since 1972. After years of troubled development, the client purchased the property and hired CosciaMoos to re-envision the buildings as a 141-unit apartment complex that honors the pride Riverside residents have for these buildings and their history.

Historic Details

We approached the existing building with a light touch. Historic elements are celebrated, while modern comforts are provided for today’s residential occupants. The factory portion of the building was built on a concrete frame with brick infill exterior walls. Large double hung windows that originally provided light for workers handling delicate manufacturing tasks now give residents lots of natural light. On the other hand, the former Pavilion Hotel building is more decorative. Ornate columns, terrazzo floors, and the ornamental terra cotta cladding on the exterior make for an eye-catching contrast to the factory’s more rugged design. These historic details and innate contrasts within the existing site form the basis for every aspect of the design.

a photo of the site's existing clock tower. it is ornate and lavish in comparison to the industrial factory
a rendering of the new amenity building to the Watch Case Factory, angular and modern to contrast the existing industrial building

New that Celebrates the Old

To expand offerings for residents, we are also designing a new amenity building on the site. Inspired by the other factories that used to exist in the area, the design of the amenity building plays off of the existing materials and form. By using materials like terra cotta, concrete, and large windows in new ways, we can create a building that harmonizes with the existing site, while speaking a complementary design language. Light, airy, spa-like vibes contrast the more industrial, moody vibes of the former factory.

The 10,500-SF amenity building will feature an indoor pool, sun deck, and fitness center. Additionally, the factory building itself will also have a rooftop amenity deck for building residents.

an aerial historical photo of Riverside, NJ. the Keystone Watch Case Company building stands tall over the rest of the town, while a number of no longer existing factories are shown to be nearby.

Industrial Interiors

This contrasting language extends to the interior design. For example, certain features of the materiality were required to be maintained, such as the exposed concrete floors. This informed many of our design choices elsewhere, such as bringing in lots of textiles for softness, woods for warmth, and contemporary lighting fixtures to juxtapose the industrial style.

a rendering of the interior lounge. industrial concrete columns, floors, and ceilings are contrasted with natural materials like wood and plants
a rendering of the Watch Case Factory's public plaza, families enjoy outdoor seating while a staircase leads up to the amenity building's roof deck

Sustainability Design

Since the building is so beloved by the people of Riverside, it was extremely important that the project be for everyone, not just residents of the building. For this reason, the site design places a great focus on the landscape. A new public plaza is situated between the amenity building and the sidewalk to provide gathering space and engage with the existing riverside trail. Rain gardens are included for stormwater control, as well as numerous other considerations due to the flood plain.

Additionally, the Watch Case Factory is being designed to meet LEED Gold certification. Sustainability is a core tenet of the design, and we are looking into ways to increase energy efficiency in both the amenity addition and the existing building.

Interview with the Designer

Katie Burrell, Project Manager on the Watch Case Factory, discusses the project and why she loves adaptive reuse.