flexiblefullpage -
billboard - default
interstitial1 - interstitial
catfish1 - bottom
Currently Reading

From fuel to food: adaptive reuse converts a closed gas station in Princeton, N.J., to a Nomad pizza

Adaptive Reuse

From fuel to food: adaptive reuse converts a closed gas station in Princeton, N.J., to a Nomad pizza

The original building dates back to the Modernist 1930s.

By John Caulfield, Senior Editor | November 7, 2016

Nomad Pizza, one of the most popular restaurants in Princeton, N.J., opened last May. It is an adaptive reuse of a gas station located near a shopping center. Image: Michael Slack, courtesy JZA+D

There are around 150,000 gas stations operating in the U.S., nearly 53,000 fewer than in 1994, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores and National Petroleum News estimates.

Closed gas stations can be real-estate headaches, partly because of the expense and red tape associated with environmental mitigation and, on occasion, rezoning required to use the property for something else. Consequently, many closed gas stations are simply abandoned, their deteriorating structures standing as grim reminders of a different era.

The more successful attempts at adaptive reuse have seen gas stations converted to restaurants. A few years ago, a CNN story focused on a number of such resurrections, including a dilapidated Standard Oil station in St. Louis, built in the 1930s, that became Olio, a wine bar and restaurant.

This trend can be traced back to 1974, when the Quaker Steak & Lube chain of restaurants began in a renovated filling station in Pennsylvania. (That chain, now with 50 locations in 14 states, emerged from bankruptcy last year when it was acquired by the TA Restaurant Group division of Travel Centers of America. On Nov. 1, TA announced the launch of a franchise expansion push to take the Quaker Steak & Lube concept nationwide.)

Over the past few years, JZA+D—a design outfit based in Princeton, N.J., that celebrated its 10th anniversary in September—has expanded its adaptive reuse practice. Recent projects include the conversion of a Masonic Temple in Princeton to a 100-unit apartment building whose construction is scheduled to begin next month; and an old tannery in Yardley, Pa., whose conversion to Class A office space for Red Nucleus was just completed.


The gas station's original design (above) harkens back to the Modernist movement of the 1930s. Its adaptive reuse as a pizzeria (below) required closing the service bays and garage doors in the rear with a facade of cedar and storefront glazing. Images: Michael Slack, courtesy of JZA+D


Joshua Zinder, JZA+D’s owner, is a self-described “architecture fanatic.” So when he first became aware that developers wanted to repurpose a closed Amoco gas station near the Princeton Shopping Mall, he immediately saw possibilities of converting a building whose original design reflected the Modernist movement of the 1930s. “It had its own personality,” says Zinder, and his firm attempted to preserve as much of that as it could.

What emerged from that vision was Nomad Pizza, with glass and cedar planes, new awnings, and an outside patio area that seats between 75 and 80 customers. Zinder estimates that the building was around 1,000 sf, to which the new design added 500 sf for the patio and a walk-in freezer.

The drive-through service bays and garage doors weren’t suitable for a foodservice space, so JZA+D closed of the bays and portals at the rear with a façade of cedar and storefront glazing. Specialized doors were installed in the front to take advantage of the original garage openings, and to allow the dining area to expand into the patio area during warmer months.

Edens, a regional shopping center developer that owns this property, handled the environmental mitigation, says Zinder.

Over the past few years, JZA+D has expanded its adaptive reuse practice, which recently included the conversion of a tannery in Yardley, Pa., to a Class A office space for Red Nucleus. Pictured is a conference room that retained the tannery's weighing equipment. Image: Michael Slack, courtesy of JZA+D


This wasn’t JZA+D’s first gas station conversion; about four years ago it changed a filling station into a Goodwill dropoff and office space. Zinder says he’s receptive to doing more of these, although he hasn’t heard from any property owners yet, despite the fact that Nomad Pizza has become one of Princeton’s go-to eateries since it opened on May. 17, offering 16 pizza choices and four different salads. “There’s lines in front of the place every night,” says Zinder.

Related Stories

MFPRO+ News | Nov 21, 2023

Underused strip malls offer great potential for conversions to residential use

Replacing moribund strip malls with multifamily housing could make a notable dent in the housing shortage and revitalize under-used properties across the country, according to a report from housing nonprofit Enterprise Community Partners.

Office Buildings | Nov 10, 2023

3 important early considerations for office-to-residential conversions

Scott Campagna, PE, Senior Director of Housing, IMEG Corp, shares insights from experts on office-to-residential conversion issues that may be mitigated when dealt with early.

Adaptive Reuse | Nov 1, 2023

Biden Administration reveals plan to spur more office-to-residential conversions

The Biden Administration recently announced plans to encourage more office buildings to be converted to residential use. The plan includes using federal money to lend to developers for conversion projects and selling government property that is suitable for conversions. 

Government Buildings | Oct 23, 2023

Former munitions plant reimagined as net-zero federal workplace

The General Services Administration (GSA) has embraced adaptive reuse with Building 48, an exciting workplace project that sets new precedents for how the federal government will approach sustainable design.

Esports Arenas | Oct 10, 2023

Modular esports arena attracts more than gamers

As the esports market continues to grow to unprecedented numbers, more facilities are being developed by universities and real estate firms each year.

Luxury Residential | Oct 2, 2023

Chicago's Belden-Stratford luxury apartments gets centennial facelift

The Belden-Stratford has reopened its doors following a renovation that blends the 100-year-old building’s original architecture with modern residences.

Office Buildings | Sep 28, 2023

Structural engineering solutions for office-to-residential conversion

IMEG's Edwin Dean,  Joe Gulden, and Doug Sweeney, share seven key focuses for structural engineers when planning office-to-residential conversions.

Adaptive Reuse | Sep 19, 2023

Transforming shopping malls into 21st century neighborhoods

As we reimagine the antiquated shopping mall, Marc Asnis, AICP, Associate, Perkins&Will, details four first steps to consider.

Adaptive Reuse | Sep 15, 2023

Salt Lake City’s Frank E. Moss U.S. Courthouse will transform into a modern workplace for federal agencies

In downtown Salt Lake City, the Frank E. Moss U.S. Courthouse is being transformed into a modern workplace for about a dozen federal agencies. By providing offices for agencies previously housed elsewhere, the adaptive reuse project is expected to realize an annual savings for the federal government of up to $6 million in lease costs.

Office Buildings | Sep 14, 2023

New York office revamp by Kohn Pedersen Fox features new façade raising occupant comfort, reducing energy use

The modernization of a mid-century Midtown Manhattan office tower features a new façade intended to improve occupant comfort and reduce energy consumption. The building, at 666 Fifth Avenue, was originally designed by Carson & Lundin. First opened in November 1957 when it was considered cutting-edge, the original façade of the 500-foot-tall modernist skyscraper was highly inefficient by today’s energy efficiency standards.

boombox1 - default
boombox2 -
native1 -

More In Category

halfpage1 -

Most Popular Content

  1. 2021 Giants 400 Report
  2. Top 150 Architecture Firms for 2019
  3. 13 projects that represent the future of affordable housing
  4. Sagrada Familia completion date pushed back due to coronavirus
  5. Top 160 Architecture Firms 2021