The Newark and Suburban Architects section of the New Jersey chapter of the American Institute of Architects has selected 21 finalists in its design competition for a proposed Newark Visitors Center.
The finalists were chosen from nearly 200 entries submitted by architects from 31 countries and selected during an all day deliberation session by an eight-member jury consisting of representatives of local architecture and construction firms, the city of Newark, community organizations and the U.S. Green Building Council.
Newark is one of the few cities of its size in the nation without a visitor’s center and with the Open Space Riverfront Project that is currently taking place in Newark, the AIA was inspired to launch a competition that would be as relevant to Newark’s needs as possible and that would in turn, inspire the city to actually build a center.
“It’s a fantastic endeavor,” said Damon Rich, City of Newark Riverfront Planner. “The city of Newark applauds and supports the efforts of our local AIA to envision a bold future for the Newark Riverfront. We welcome the ideas submitted by architects and designers into the broader conversation about the role of the riverfront in our city and our region,” added Rich.
After working with the city’s planners to identify a site that could be used for the structure, the design committee chose 923 Raymond Boulevard in downtown Newark, just a five-minute walk from Newark Penn Station.
The challenge was to design a center that would be a destination spot on its own and that created a clear identity for the city, celebrated its unique heritage, reinforced its image as a gateway to the wider metropolitan experience, brought the city closer to its residents and incorporated the city’s business interests.
In particular, the contest called for a 13,345-sq-ft building with multi-faceted uses including an information center, an auditorium, an interactive display area, gallery space, a conference room, a café and a gift shop. The contest also called for creating innovative solutions for on-site parking, while still allowing for a pedestrian friendly site.
“The quality of the finalists’ designs was very high,” said Alok K. Saksena, the competition’s creator and director. “The architects took care that their designs were inviting, fit into the surrounding community and reflected the city’s extraordinary diversity. In addition, the designs met the competition’s requirement for sustainability with the use of innovative sustainable features.”
The four winning entries will be announced at an upcoming Newark Visitors Center Awards Gala, with the date and venue to be determined.