Richard Meier & Partners has completed 3 new mixed-use buildings as part of their “Teachers Village” master plan in downtown Newark, New Jersey. The development, led by RBH Group, centers around two Charter Schools completed by Meier & Partners in 2013, to provide a variety of retail spaces and 123 residential units marketed specifically at teachers.
Located along Halsey Street in a 5 block area south of Market Street and west of Broad Street in the heart of Newark’s downtown area, the Teachers Village development was envisioned as a vibrant new community that integrates seamlessly into the city’s historic core. Each building has been designed relative to its context and in accordance with the Newark Living Downtown Plan, a set of guidelines and strategies developed in 2008 by SOM in partnership with then-mayor Corey Booker aimed at revitalizing the Newark city center. The new buildings meet these guidelines by adopting the scale and rhythm of their context; all of the new building facades along Halsey are four-stories tall, the same as those of the neighborhood’s historic structures.
Residential units, completed at the relatively affordable price point of $220 per square foot, feature light-filled, spacious interiors fully compliant with accessibility guidelines, helping to foster a diverse community. Helping to establish a connection between the community and education, first priority for leasing has been given to teachers, not just from the two charter schools, but as well as teachers from surrounding public institutions. Further strengthening the bond, each building has been designed with flexible community spaces that are envisioned as areas where students can meet with teachers for outside-of-class tutoring sessions.
“Teachers Village is a unique addition to our office’s design portfolio as these buildings have all together created a new community and neighborhood,” expalins Vivian Lee, Associate Partner-in-Charge at Richard Meier & Partners. “We are proud to be part of the RBH team, in achieving an incredible development vision that will deliver both a social and economic impact to Newark’s downtown district. With already a changing environment in this area with the schools, housing and businesses for Teachers Village, we look forward to continuing our effort in further contributing to future phases of this development, transforming and enhancing a part of the urban fabric.”
The development is one of the first in the country to pursue the LEED Neighborhood Development designation by the US Green Building Council, which stipulates that a project achieve the highest possible levels of sustainable design while integrates the principles of smart growth, urbanism and green building strategies.
One of the strategies implemented in the Teachers Village concerns an increase in density; several former parking lots have been razed to make way for the mixed-use buildings and publicly accessible outdoor spaces. To increase circulation around the charter schools, a new road divides the block into more comfortably-scaled partitions, helping to increase the perception of safety for students and residents.
The new buildings use many of Meier’s signature architectural elements, with white stucco and aluminum panels arranged in a dynamic composition of private balconies and public terraces. One of the charter school buildings, however, represents a departure from the signature style – its brick facade representing Meier’s first use of the material in 40 years (since the completion of the Bronx’s Twin Parks Northeast Housing).
“Teachers Village is one important component of several new development initiatives in New Jersey, and the construction of all these new buildings reflects our commitment to the revitalization of downtown Newark,” commented Richard Meier. “Natural light has been a very important consideration and all the different apartments, classrooms and retail spaces will be full of natural light with various views to the neighborhood. Light touches every component and all the interiors of the various buildings bringing everything into a harmonious whole.”
Dukho Yeon, Associate Partner-in-Charge, added: “We are especially proud to realize this project that we envisioned together with RBH group many years ago with modest means but ambitious goals; with architecture that is sensitive to context but purposeful in creating generous living spaces for teachers, and a vibrant new neighborhood in downtown Newark.”
The Teachers Village is the first project completed as part of RBH Group’s “SoMa Newark” downtown revitalization plan, envisioned by Richard Meier & Partners. The SoMa masterplan comprises 79 parcels within a 23-acre area of downtown Newark, and is aimed at creating a vibrant, connected community integrated within the city’s historical center.
News via Richard Meier & Partners.