Dr. Martin Luther Kind Justice Building

Newark, N.J.

BEST PROJECT

OWNER: Essex County Dept. of Public Works

LEAD DESIGN FIRM, ARCHITECT, CIVIL AND STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Comito Associates PC

GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Dobco

MEP ENGINEER: French & Parrello Associates

INTERIORS: AECOM

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: Barreto/Dowd

GEOTECHNICAL ENGINEER: Johnson Soils


This four-story, 150,000-sq-ft building houses 11 courtrooms for the Tax Court of New Jersey, a variety of Essex County administrative departments and a large cafeteria and kitchen area fitted with the latest food preparation technology.

Already challenged with a compressed 15-month construction schedule, the project had barely gotten underway before the coronavirus pandemic threw supply chains and labor availability into disarray, according to the team. Deliveries of state-of-the-art finishes sourced globally were delayed, while key project team personnel were sidelined for extended periods after testing positive for COVID-19.

MLK Building

Photo by Dobco Field Team

Perseverance and nimbleness helped the team navigate these disruptions and uncertainties, enabling them to complete the building on time while exceeding the owner’s quality and craftsmanship specifications. Regular meetings among project leaders ensured that construction followed the set schedule.

Safety was also stressed from the outset, including added measures that allowed workers to perform intricate construction tasks while minimizing  COVID-19 risks. The project logged 324,000 work-hours with no lost-time or recordable incidents.

MLK Building

Photo by Dobco Field Team

Along with an extensive structural glass system that encloses the lobby, the curtain wall system is aligned with motorized shades that automatically track the sun’s path across the sky.

Courtrooms are equipped with soundproof doors and panels, while a sophisticated building management system ensures continuous interior comfort.

The building exterior is surrounded by a fence with an automatic gate system that can recognize key personnel with proper identification.

MLK Building

Photo by Dobco Field Team

A glass-enclosed pedestrian bridge provides a direct connection to the adjacent Hall of Records building.

The building, located in Newark, is expected to serve as a symbol of justice and of Essex County’s commitment to its citizens, according to the team. The finishing touch—a 22-ft-tall statue of Martin Luther King Jr. at the building’s front—provides the city with a new landmark.