Richard Meier has returned to his roots with the opening of his latest project in the heart of downtown Newark, New Jersey. Government officials gathered Thursday to cut the ribbon on the first phase of a mixed-use development called Teachers Village. The 90,000 square foot structure is now home to two charter schools, with retail planned for the ground floor. The sprawling development—part of of revitalization program to revive downtown—will consist of retail space, a daycare center, three charter schools, and 200 apartment units for teachers. The Newark-born architect was tapped to design five of the eight buildings in the complex with KSS Architects in charge of the remaining three. "Project Teachers Village was conceived and started in 2008," said Vivian Lee, project manager at Richard Meier & Partners. "The original context of this area was mostly parking lots and a lot of abandoned buildings, and Ron [Beit] really had a vision to revitalize this part of downtown Newark and provide housing as well as retail to really liven up this part of the city." AN took a tour of the four-story, brick-and-metal-clad building, which is a departure from Meier's signature glass and stark-white buildings. "From early on the project we understood that this is not the typical project that our office does," said Remy Bertin, project architect. "We really wanted to integrate it into the fabric of Newark—not just in plan, not just in making things in line, but also through the material. Newark is the brick city. It is a very vernacular material for the city traditionally." The firm worked closely with a mason to create a sawtooth brick design on the facade. While Meier & Partners experimented with a new palette of materials, they still made light a priority in the overall design scheme. "In keeping with Richard Meier's design philosophy, we wanted to bring in a lot of natural light, and obviously it promotes learning," said Lee. Bertin said that zoning, specifically the height limits for buildings in the area, presented initial challenges to the design. "When we were designing the school, the big issue that we were dealing with was all the programs, all the schools that were in the space," said Bertin. "We really wanted to create a sense of inter-connectivity with public spaces within the building even though we had so much to pack into a 60 foot package that limited us."
Posts tagged with "New Jersey":
Four residents of New Jersey and two public interest groups have pledged to appeal the court ruling upholding the grant of a variance to allow LG Electronics USA to build an 8-story headquarters in Englewood, NJ. If built, the HOK-designed office complex (pictured) will rise above the tree-line and forever change the view of the Palisades from the Cloisters, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's outpost in northern Manhattan, that sits along the Hudson River facing New Jersey. “We have reviewed the decision and believe that it is erroneous. We plan to appeal,” said Angelo Morresi, attorney for the public interests groups, in a statement. (Rendering: Courtesy HOK)
A new four-acre park opened this past weekend in downtown Newark providing public access to the Passaic River for the very first time. Flanked by the bay and river, the city is home to one of the nation's largest containers shipping terminals, yet residents have long been cut off from the waterfront. This new stretch of parkland occupies the former site of the Balbach Smelting and Refining Worksone and is now part of the Riverfront Park that neighbors the 12-acre Essex County Riverfront Park. Designed by Lee Weintraub Landscape Architecture and the Newark Planning Office, the park features an orange boardwalk made of recycled plastic, a floating boat dock, sports fields, walking and biking paths, and an area for performances. Once a dumping site, the polluted river is an EPA Superfund site and in the midst of an intensive clean-up process. The project--a joint effort between the City of Newark, Essex County, and the Trust for Public Land--cost $9 million in private and public funding. An additional 3-acre segment of the park is in the works and planned to break ground in the near future once all the funding is secured.
The battle over LG Electronic's proposed office complex in New Jersey is getting increasingly political. Now New York City government officials are chiming in and expressing their opposition to the company's plans to build a 143-foot-high HOK-designed headquarters atop the leafy Palisades along the Hudson River facing Manhattan. Yesterday, Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. sent a letter addressed to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie asking him to step in and stop the proposed plans for the office complex and urge a redesign of the building. The letter stated: "For hundreds of years, the residents of your state and ours have enjoyed unspoiled, pristine views of the Palisades, and this proposal threatens to change that forever. The proposal put forward by LG Electronics threatens to alter this view, and negatively impact the enjoyment of the Palisades as a visual and a recreational resource. The Palisades are a natural treasure. The park is a designated National Natural Landmark and development should respect that context. While the Palisades are physically located in New Jersey, they are of such importance to the people and the cultural institutions of New York City that our own development rules have ensured that their view is not obstructed." The letter states that the Bronx Community Board #8 and Manhattan Community Board #12, along with four former New Jersey governors—including Brendan Byrne, Thomas Kean, James Florio and Christine Todd Whitman—have all conveyed some level of concern about the new headquarters. To make matters worse for LG, the Environmental Protection Agency has "withdrawn its partnership with LG to develop the tower." This comes after negotiations with a court-supervised mediator failed this Spring.
Conciliatory efforts have failed in the fight over LG Electronic's plans to build 143-foot-high, HOK-designed office complex atop New Jersey's Palisades across the Hudson River from Manhattan. The new headquarters, to be located in Englewood, has been the subject of much debate as several advocacy groups, individuals, and officials from the Metropolitan Museum say that the 8-story building would disrupt the idyllic view of the wooded Palisades from the Cloisters, the MET's outpost in northern Manhattan. Earlier this year, a coalition of groups and individuals—including Scenic Hudson, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, and the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs—filed a lawsuit against a variance and zoning in hopes of encouraging a redesign of the building. The two opposing parties agreed to meet with a court-supervised mediator this spring, but according to LG Electronics, these negotiations were unsuccessful. LG claims that the parties had agreed "not to discuss the matter in the media while the process was underway, yet at several points during the sensitive negotiations, groups aligned with the intervenors undertook activities that broke the spirit of the court’s instructions and repeated many inaccurate statements about the project." John Taylor, Vice President of LG Electronics, said that "the players themselves might not have been directly involved," but there was "a stepped up campaign by the opposition during very sensitive negotiations of the mediation and it was not helpful to the process." Now that the parties have failed to come to a resolution, the case will go through court proceedings. "As we said we are confident that we’ll prevail in the courts," said Taylor. "We hope the judge will make a decision later this summer."
This week, AN accompanied members of the American Institute of Architects NY Chapter and AIA New Jersey on a boat tour of the Passaic River to examine the impact of Hurricane Sandy on the city of Newark and to discuss recovery efforts ranging from design solutions for rebuilding to resiliency strategies. Newark, like other parts of the Tri-state area, was hit particularly hard by the super storm and will serve as a point of discussion at the Post-Sandy Regional Working Group's workshop on July 9th with urban planners, developers, stakeholders, and architects from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. This expedition along the Newark waterfront will help inform the larger conversation about resiliency that has been spearheaded by the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter (AIANY) and the AIANY’s Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee (DfRR), which has culminated into the Post-Sandy Initiative.
With summer just around the corner, bicyclists are getting excited to try out the new bike-share systems being installed in many cities across the nation. After initial delays, New York City's bike-share program is set to open by the end of the month, and San Francisco, Seattle, and Hoboken have similar plans of their own on the horizon. San Francisco: SPUR reports that the Bay Area Air Quality Management District signed a contract with Alta Bike Share to spin the wheels on a bike-sharing program for San Francisco. Alta Bike Share runs similar bike programs in Washington, D.C. and Boston and will be the operator of new programs in New York and Chicago this year. San Francisco plans a two-year pilot program consisting of 700 bikes in 70 locations that will launch this summer throughout the San Jose to San Francisco region. Last year the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition set a goal of 20 percent of trips in the city on bike by 2020 and now, after several delays, the plan will be the first regional program in the country. Seattle: Considering Seattle’s distinctive challenges of hills and mandatory helmets, Alta Bicycle Share has devised a plan for the city’s bike-share program that includes seven-speed bikes rather than the standard three-speed ones, reported BikePortland. The Portland-based Alta, adding to their bike share empire across the country, will also employ an integrated helmet vending system to accommodate the city’s mandatory helmet law. The city’s bike-share program will consist of 500 bikes distributed throughout 50 stations. The program will launch by the start of 2014 and continue to develop throughout the Puget Sound region. Hoboken: The City of Hoboken, in partner with E3Think, Bike And Roll, and Social Bicycles, across the Hudson from Manhattan, is also getting into the bike share game with a system radically different from most other cities: the “hybrid” bike-share plan. The six-month pilot program employs traditional bike rentals, but users reserve bikes online and, unlike the majority of existing bike-share systems that depend on “Smart-Dock” bike racks for storage, Hoboken's program utilizes a “Smart-Lock” method. The city hopes this approach will be more affordable and permit further development of the system. Bicycle repair stations, more bike lanes, and additional bike racks have bolstered the city’s campaign to become more bike-friendly.
Hurricane Sandy caused substantial damage to wastewater and drinking water treatment systems across the tri-state area. Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced plans to provide a total of $569 million to New York and New Jersey to make wastewater and drinking water treatment facilities more resilient to withstand the effects of future storms. As Michael Shapiro, EPA Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator, pointed out in a media call, "Sewage treatment plants are on the waterfront so are particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels." The funding will be provided through grants to states that will then be distributed primarily to local communities as low or no interest loans. “Going forward we’re encouraging local governments to submit proposals for green infrastructure and that rely on natural features to prevent flooding,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck in an announcement. The agency also anticipates that this funding will result in 6,000 short-term construction jobs.
After a nearly five-year delay, a $350 million mixed-use development in Jersey City is slated to break ground in the next few months. The Real Deal reports that the Jersey City Municipal Council and Planning Board approved plans back in December. Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman + Associates Architects will design the two 50-story towers at 70 and 90 Columbus Street. The 1.2 million-square-foot development, a joint venture by Ironstate Development and Panepinto Properties, will consist of a 150-room hotel and approximately 1,000 rental apartments in addition to retail space.
The Cloisters museum and gardens, the Metropolitan Museum's outpost for Medieval architecture and art in northern Manhattan, faces the tree-lined cliffs of the Palisades across the Hudson River in New Jersey. The view is picturesque, uninterrupted by the built environment—nary a single building in sight. But soon, a 143-foot-high office complex designed by HOK could rise above the treetops, a change some say will spoil the idyllic natural view. The New York Times reported that LG Electronics USA's plan to build an eight-story headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, has sparked protests from environmental groups, the Met, and Larry Rockefeller—whose grandfather donated four acres of land for the museum and park in New York and purchased 700 acres along the cliffs on the other side of the river to keep the view unmarred. According to the New Jersey Record, LG is among the largest taxpayers in the area, and therefore has some clout with local government officials in Englewood. The Record reported that LG was granted a variance to exceed a 35-foot height limit in the area, a move later challenged in court. The property was subsequently rezoned to again allow for additional height. The development was also approved last fall by the New Jersey State Department of Transportation and Department of Environmental Protection. The new 493,000-square-foot headquarters will cost an estimated $300 million, which LG said will yield jobs and bring in more than a million dollars in tax revenue. Several groups and individuals are taking action, however, to prevent the new development from blemishing their much-loved, pristine views. The Met wrote a letter to LG requesting that they “reconsider the design,” and Rockefeller has spoken with LG officials to explain the significance of the landscape. In addition, environmental groups and Englewood residents have filed two separate lawsuits against the project. Still, LG plans to begin construction on the new campus this year, with construction wrapping up in 2016. Rockefeller told the New York Times he's optimistic a resolution will be found, saying, "No one’s opposed to the building per se. I’m certainly not. It’s just the design of it being tall and so visible.”
In an about face, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie reversed a decision to demolish Athena Tacha's Green Acres, a site specific installation at the State's Department of Environmental Protection. Tacha is largely credited with bringing the land art movement into the social context of architecture. The 1985 sculpture's staying power remains contingent upon private funding to restore the piece. With Art Pride New Jersey, Preservation New Jersey, and The Cultural Landscape Foundation all rallying to the cause, Green Acres looks like it will remain the place to be.
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) debacle in New Jersey over a unilateral decision to destroy a sculpture by landscape artist Athena Tacha has begun to slip into the public consciousness. The irony that the plaza piece, titled Green Acres, is to be destroyed by a department with environment in its name has not been lost on many. Apparently, the DEP has a $1 million EPA grant burning a hole in its pocket and plans to replace the sculpture with eco-friendly pavers. The waste has not gone undetected. Philadelphia Inquirer critic Inga Saffron writes in today's column: "There is nothing wrong with the DEP's making its property more sustainable. But why start with the little plaza when its offices are surrounded by sprawling parking lots paved with the usual impervious asphalt?" Now it remains to be seen whether the agency will be impervious to its critics.