McCarter Switching Station Art Wall
Owner: Public Service Electric & Gas Co.
Lead Design Firm: Adjaye Associates
General Contractor: Joseph Jingoli & Son Inc.
Structural Engineer: Garden State Engineering, Surveying & Planning
MEP Engineer: RDS Associates
Architect: WSM Associates
Landscape Architect: DW Smith Associates
Project Management: CHS Construction
Art Curators: Arts & Community Engagement Advisory and Rush Philanthropic Foundation
The project to conceal the McCarter electricity switching station was the result of a public-private partnership formed by Public Service Electric & Gas Co. and the city of Newark.
The P3 aimed to address concerns of the community, which strongly objected to the facility being in the neighborhood. All parties agreed to transform a functional fenced security feature into an art wall and public space, and a creative team identified by the city led design efforts.
The 25-ft-high wall uses both architectural precast concrete panels and perforated curved aluminum panels. Station access is provided through four large cantilevered entrance gates, which are clad in solid aluminum panels. Additional bracing was required to stiffen the panels because of the warping introduced by the heat of the painting.
Multiple rounds of mock-ups and even full-scale units were completed before settling on a final version. Wind loading on the gate structures established criteria that could only be met by a contractor in Indiana.
Still, the project engaged the local community and the city. It promoted the hiring of Newark residents as well as WEB contractors. Journeymen and apprentices came from the city’s west ward.
The project features 14 pieces of public art, including the work of six Newark artists. Mounting of the artwork on the precast panels was a challenge because of the diversity of the units.
The design is accented by LED uplighting of the canopies from fixtures set flush into the marketplace pavement. Five-ft-high display cases mounted on the wall showcase artwork from neighborhood schools and artists. The station perimeter also features new curbs, sidewalks and landscaping.
The Art Wall proves that taking a broader view of the relationship between a project, its owner and the community can create a positive and lasting impact on that community well beyond serving the original need.