Atlantic City Tourism District Master Plan / The Jerde Partnership

Atlantic City Tourism District Master Plan / The Jerde Partnership
Courtesy of The Jerde Partnership

Well known for their visionary architecture that people love to visit and go back to time and again, The Jerde Partnership has set out to attract more people through a realistic framework by transforming Atlantic City into the preferred coastal resort destination of the Northeastern United States. By creating a clean, green, safe city that pays homage to its storied history and takes advantage of its unique island setting, the new Atlantic City Tourism District master plan will offer a wide range of attractions and experiences for all ages. By promoting a strategy for redevelopment, phasing, and district-wide improvements, the master plan will serve as a catalyst for Atlantic City’s economic and social uplift. More images and architects’ description after the break.

The sustained renewal initiatives will allow the seaside destination to realize its full potential as a vibrant, exciting place to be and be seen. The master plan provides urban design principles for key improvements within the core areas including the Beach and Boardwalk during the initial phase of improvement initiatives. These near-term redevelopment strategies will be complemented by improvements to the hierarchy of streets within the Tourism District, re-energizing Pacific and Atlantic Avenues as main thoroughfares, while upgrading major ancillary perpendicular streets connecting Pacific and Atlantic Avenues to the Boardwalk.

Courtesy of The Jerde Partnership

With new entertainment and attractions established with financial, social and environmental sustainability, the City will be able to deliver on the expectations of an ultimate beachside resort that will attract millions of new visitors.Atlantic City Tourism District Master Plan is a comprehensive and strategic framework to propel the city back into the international arena as “The World’s Famous Playground.” Undertaken by the CRDA, and through the strategic collaboration and master-planning concepts of Jones Lang LaSalle and The Jerde Partnership, the master plan vision will breathe new life into the historic seaside escape and reinvent the city as a desirable place to live, work, play and visit. The Tourism District Master Plan sets out to deliver compelling, yet realistic redevelopment strategies that will serve as catalysts for increased tourism, attracting visitors to experience the unparalleled offerings of year round entertainment and attractions only possible at the world-class, beachfront resort of Atlantic City.

Courtesy of The Jerde Partnership

Encompassing approximately 1,700 acres of area, the new Tourism District Master Plan requires a careful balance of introducing innovative and inspirational new elements of attraction, while implementing fundamental urban planning principles to transform the perception of Atlantic City. The master plan re-establishes Atlantic City as a world-class resort for the 21st century and beyond, designed to meet the needs of the modern tourist as well as local residents. Two major concepts essential to the plan revolve around experiential visioning and urban regeneration, creating excitement, identity, cohesion and connection among distinctive places through fundamental urban planning, all formulating a collective marvel for the City at large. The guiding principles of the plan involve both near-, mid- and long-term initiatives that will offer locals and tourists an ever-changing and memorable new destination.

Courtesy of The Jerde Partnership

Experiential Visioning

Pacific Ave view

Intended to enhance the city’s inherently unique qualities, the master plan highlights Atlantic City’s magical island setting as a place of escapism with infinite views across the Atlantic, complemented by undulating sand dunes, beach frontage, a historic one-and-only Boardwalk, a clustering of casino resorts and hotels, and prominent streetscapes, all activated by new generations of visitors – city dwellers, families, young professionals, leisure-seekers and entertainment enthusiasts. The new Atlantic City will represent a choreographed collection of sand and sea, entertainment and experiences that are seamlessly intertwined in celebration of the City.

The solution to enhance the perception of place is to encourage a vibrant and pedestrian-oriented streetscape around and along the casinos utilizing a new programmed Boardwalk entertainment zone that is entirely uninterrupted from Revel to Hard Rock. People will be enthralled with outdoor events and an active round-the-clock street scene, highlighted by Icons of Experience: the South Inlet Wind Sculpture, Midtown Concert Shell, and the animated Downbeach Light Show – collectively designed to provide a setting for year round festivals and unveil a seamless pedestrian linkage between the excitement of the Boardwalk and casinos and thrill of the streets.


Attracting more people in massive numbers is the goal of the master plan. More people will provide a revenue-generating catalyst for future large-scale redevelopment. The new Atlantic City will engage a broad audience that seeks a youthful state of mind with high energy and excitement – an escape from the urban or suburban monotony of work and daily routine – culminating in a place where fun is unlimited. This approach creates a universal and timeless “Playground” that will appeal to visitors of all ages.

cannery row

Atlantic City Boardwalk

boardwalk light attraction

The postcard signature of Atlantic City is and always will be the Boardwalk and beach frontage. To advance this area into modern day allure, and as part of the near-term initiatives, it will be transformed into an uninterrupted gleaming hub of pedestrian activity lined on both sides with attractions and people. On the beach side, stunning new interactive entertainment and the icons of experience will be featured – pulsating with music, light, sports, recreational and cultural activity at go-to ‘photo spots’ for visitors. A series of pedestrian-informed corporate pavilions connect the icons along the two mile stretch and act as pearls of the Boardwalk, rotating their appealing offerings each season by way of ‘exclusive releases’ from the entertainment and consumer product companies that sponsor them.

A pageantry of lights and graphics will further create a signature and delicate edge of board and sand. Along the city side of the Boardwalk, new upgraded and attractive casino entryways and arcade-style shops will offer a variety of al fresco dining, merchandise and collectibles unique to the Atlantic City brand. The blurred lines between the retrofitted indoor casino environment and the outdoor Boardwalk atmosphere will be a distinct architectural upgrade that features clear glass and strategic openings to allow merchandise and public activity to spill in and out, enticing passersby to join the celebration.

Atlantic City Streets of Entertainment

boardwalk performance attraction

Equally significant to the Boardwalk’s transformation is the distinct reputation of a lively and inviting street scene that is uniquely Atlantic City. This begins along Pacific Avenue – a new district equal in high energy and activity to any heralded entertainment street in America. Running parallel and in cohesion to the Boardwalk, Pacific Avenue will be programmed with special features and attractions at South Inlet, Midtown and Downbeach to further enhance the overall district. People will be bursting into the streets day and night, as new pedestrian areas are implemented, forming new promenades and walking paths, with areas of parking and casino service reclaimed for entertainment clubs, restaurants, bars, chic stores, and a scene that encourages people to be on the sidewalks.

Jitneys and taxis will provide nonstop service along Pacific Avenue to each district, nullifying the need for visitors to drive. The street life will be set in motion by media and entertainment concepts that will replace existing garage facades, introducing interactive portals of film, music, television, advertising and artistry. Pacific Avenue will finally compete with the likes of Bourbon and Beale Streets with a new energy integrated with the casino front doors so visitors can move freely between gaming activity and authentic street party settings – a unique experience never seen even in Las Vegas.

Atlantic Avenue once again becomes the “Main Street” of Atlantic City – a communal street for local residents and tourists alike. The new master plan introduces a districting and merchandizing organization structure through a series of connected environments that feature businesses of the City and State in the form of a revitalized Central Business District main street. The new area is highlighted by art and culture, unique resort type merchandise and retail, an increase of offerings to the already successful “Walk”, and more dining options along the street catering to residents and visitors. Security grills and poor signage will be replaced by inviting storefronts and tree lined sidewalks, while landscape and paving enhancements will recall the detailed traditional elements of the City. Local residents and tourists will be provided a marketplace as a community gathering plaza reminiscent of those found in the world’s greatest cities.

wind sculpture

The master plan envisions a series of connected neighborhoods along Atlantic Avenue’s two-mile path, including large Arts and Boutique Districts to the west and to the east a College District, and a mixed-use residential development along the water in the South Inlet area. New walking paths and view corridors will be provided throughout the main street, including access to the college district and views of the Absecon Light House in its new L-shaped park setting at the east end of the City. The master plan strategy recommends a public/private management group controlled by the CRDA that cooperatively leases, manages, and maintains key districts along the new main street. Combining strategic improvements of the businesses and right-of-ways along Atlantic Avenue will allow visitors the experience of a clean, safe and energized coastal resort similar to those found all along the eastern seaboard. Atlantic Avenue will become the foundational CBD backbone of the City.

Reinforcing street life and pedestrian activity within the City is one of the major objectives of the master plan’s experiential vision. Improvements to the lateral streets of Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, etc. will be necessary to connect Pacific and Atlantic Avenues to the Boardwalk, as well as provide a variety of smaller scale and more intimate urban experiences along and within the extended network of streets. The result will be a new pedestrian-oriented district in and around the casino core areas emphasized by a heightened sense of discovery and refinement that substantially contribute to the resort experiential quality of Atlantic City.

board layout - phase 01

Mid-term Initiatives: Atlantic City ALIVE

board layout - phase 02

As a means for future and sustained redevelopment, the master plan framework responds to the emotional desires of the various visitor audiences so the place comes alive once again through an authentic experiential sequence of entertainment and intervention concepts that reflect the past allure and attraction of the seaside resort. Following the transformational upgrades of the Boardwalk, Pacific and Atlantic Avenues, the master plan encourages major new redevelopment to next take place with the Arcades District, AC Live and Gardens Market Place surrounding Midtown, and within Park Place to further enhance the overall tourism experience.

Atlantic City provides an authentic waterfront experience in Gardner’s Basin, which the master plan further promotes as a key public area of activity. The existing Fisherman’s Village and Aquarium will attract increased visitors with improved access and branding. Due to its prime inlet location, adjacency to real-life fishing fleet operations, and unmatched views of the marina, the master plan recommends major improvements to the Basin once additional future investment comes into the City. Heritage promotion, whether historical or contemporary, could elevate the village through a series of authentic maritime offerings. Likewise, the Aquarium should be enhanced as an Edu-tainment destination similar to Monterey Bay Aquarium in California and Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, where marine research and exploratory events, including an IMAX theater, are integrated with the Atlantic Ocean and inlet.

board layout - phase 03

Long-term Initiatives: Atlantic City New Neighborhoods

Bader Field remains a long-term initiative to complement the city’s new energy, and the master plan provides a future vision for Bader Field to be transformed into a mixed-use residential area similar to Santana Row in California and Capital Center in Providence. Any suggested near-term improvements to Bader Field will draw away resources required to address the issues of refreshing the current offerings and increasing the experience of broader Atlantic City.

The Marina District will also be a focal point for long-term initiatives with the development of a new Resort (gaming or non-gaming) to help solidify the economic positioning of the Marina District as a high end destination. The Marina District will be enhanced by substantial pedestrian and bicycle friendly circulation with a network of paths and interconnecting properties to take full advantage of the marina waterfront experience.

Urban Regeneration Principles

In order to accomplish the experiential visioning qualities of the master plan, fundamental urban regeneration and planning principles serve as the foundation of the strategy based on market realities and realistic near-term, mid-term and long-term improvements. Key urban planning principles to guide a sustainable redevelopment process include the following:

- Creation and implementation of multiple districting and attractions as catalysts for future development to re-establish a premier world-class resort destination

- Reclaim and reinvent the Boardwalk as a one-of-a-kind feature that complements its historic significance through progressive urban theater concepts and entertainment

- Strategy to enhance the connection of the Boardwalk with the beach by diminishing the visual and circulation barriers caused by existing dunes

- Transform the blighted reputation of the City by focusing on re-introducing a communal atmosphere within and around a network of urban streetscapes

- A master plan that builds upon the historical and positive attractions of the City through a consistent and cohesive strategy to provide Atlantic City with a new fresh look

- Enhanced pedestrian friendly city that encourages (not detracts) visitors to explore and experience the many extraordinary offerings Atlantic City has to offer

- Improvements to regional and local traffic circulation through: 1. recommendations of project priorities based on the city’s existing regional transportation plan; and 2. provide a network of alternative local transportation corridors that accommodate alternative modes such as local minibuses, water taxis and slow-speed vehicles (bikes, segways, scooters, etc.)

- Mixed-use & high-density infill development based on market conditions and priorities to revitalize ‘dead zones’

- Marina District as a location for substantial long-term development featuring additional high-end casino resorts like the existing Borgata

While the master plan strategy is organized by potential phasing, development does not follow a formulaic process, therefore, the urban regeneration principles encourages major new development to next take place in incremental stages and focused on core districts that will further reinforce the new Boardwalk experience, and Pacific and Atlantic Avenues streets of entertainment concepts. Design principles suggest how regulatory guidelines should influence and control the execution in the future development areas.

Building upon the virtues of tradition and history, culture and entertainment, while inspired by a seaside and holistic aesthetic, the Atlantic City Tourism District Master Plan is a framework of strategy to implement an enduring urban planning approach that is sustainable and achievable. The master plan creates an innovative urban regeneration model through a seamless integration of seaside entertainment and attractions, inviting resort experiences, unique and appealing street life, waterfront destinations, and pedestrian open space that is dynamically interwoven to usher in the next generation of the City’s urban evolution.

Architects: The Jerde Partnership Location: Atlantic east coast urban waterfront, Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States Public Agency in Charge: CRDA (Casino Reinvestment Development Authority) Lead Consultant: Jones Lang LaSalle Local Engineers: Birdsall Services Group Legal Consultant: Hill Wallack LL Land Uses: Open/public space, entertainment, retail, dining, hospitality, gaming, mixed-use, residential, recreational and sports, community facilities, aquarium, education, culture, transportation Size: Approximately 1,700 acres of varying land plots and parcels

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About this author
Cite: Alison Furuto. "Atlantic City Tourism District Master Plan / The Jerde Partnership" 05 Jun 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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