Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Odor rooms make 'scents' for company in E. Hanover

Odor rooms make 'scents' for company in E. Hanover
New building houses Givaudan Fragrance

By Ellen S. Wilkowe • Daily Record •

In a room that exists solely to exhaust the scents of manufactured air fresheners, even the most stuffed-up noses can get a whiff.


In the state-of-the-art product-testing center at Givaudan Fragrance and Flavors' new headquarters in East Hanover, the company is testing the length of life of brand-name air-fresheners in order to back up the manufacturers' claim that their product truly lasts 30 to 60 days as advertised, said Lisa Lewis, Givaudan's creative director.
One flight up, scientists in white coats, surrounded by labeled brown bottles, compound fragranced concoctions to infuse into various home products. Think laundry detergent, Clorox, dishwashing soap, and yes, air fresheners such as Glade PlugIns.
(Oh, and it smells great in there.)
Call them super-secret scents, tested by professional perfumers in specially constructed, glass-enclosed odor rooms.
Scent is exactly what drives Givaudan Fragrance and Flavors, and a brand-new, 150,000-square-foot campus was necessity for Givaudan's Consumer Products Fragrance Creative division that now calls Ridgedale Avenue home.
"There are many noses here," said project manager Steve Andersen, of Montroy Andersen and DeMarco, the lead architectural firm behind the $28 million renovation. "Noses that know chemistry."
Formerly located in Teaneck, the creative division opened doors in East Hanover last month, following four years of well, sniffing out the perfect site.
Andersen first toured Givaudan's European offices to create their "science meets nature" standard as evidenced in the mostly glass-enclosed interior and its pistachio-green exterior.
The green theme continues with the application of sustainable and energy-efficient resources such as bamboo flooring, Low e-glass, fiber-optic lighting and an automated monitoring and control system to manage the building climate.
Four years in the making, the project first required landing a two-building site, or split plan, and then adhering to the stringent requirements involved in constructing impermeable odor booths, necessary for fragrance research.
"The HVAC systems can't contaminate each other," said Andersen.
The overhaul started more than a year ago and first involved skinning down the buildings, then installing new electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems. The Andersen team also connected the two buildings with a lobby atrium and constructed a front entrance.
Budget constraints in the building project itself resulted in Givaudan purchasing some of its own material, including lights, curtain walls, flooring, HVAC and glass, not to mention providing its own construction team. The completed campus is divided into two buildings -- a two-story structure for commercial and corporate and three-story for research and development -- conjoined by the lobby atrium, which will serve as the marketing area. The East Hanover site employs 200-210 employees in the science and corporate capacities.
The campus is peppered with general common areas and 11 glass-enclosed conference rooms, including a "floating conference room" that is seemingly suspended in mid-air.
The heartbeat of their super-secret research is the "more than 50 but less than 100 odor rooms," housed on the second floor of the research and development side.
The bank of airtight glass-walled rooms allow a perfumer to inhale a pure fragrance without outside odor contamination. The evaluator can waft the fragrance directly in the room or through a special porthole outside the room. A push of a button sucks out the odor and, after about 10 minutes, the room is ready for its next concoction, Lewis said.
To evaluate in true consumer capacity, laundry products are tested in an area with 30-40 washers and dryers, while a makeshift bathroom, complete with tub, toilet and sink, serves as a platform to assess toiletries and bathroom cleaners.

In addition to the Ridgedale Avenue site, Givaudan has two other locations in Morris County: Merry Lane in East Hanover and 300 Waterloo Valley Road in Mount Olive.
Ellen S. Wilkowe can be reached at (973) 428-6662 or ewilkowe@gannett.com.

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