Oculus - Fall 2015 - (Page 34)

©TRichard Meier & Partners feature It Takes a Village A unique public-private venture looks to reinvent Newark B Y J A N E T A DA M S S TRO N G N ewark is the largest city in New Jersey, just 20 minutes by train to Manhattan. A major Northeast transit hub, it also has one of the busiest airports in the country and the biggest container port on the East Coast. Downtown is headquarters to leading corporations, notably Prudential and Panasonic, and home to six colleges/universities, the state's largest museum, important research libraries, a symphony hall and new performing arts center, and an 18,000-seat arena. In its 1920s-1940s heyday, Newark was a bustling entertainment and commercial center, drawing shoppers to fashionable department stores. An extensive highway system facilitated regional access but destroyed neighborhoods and helped drain the post-war city to the suburbs. Ravaged in 1967 by riots, "white flight," debilitating unemployment, poverty, and crime, the once-vibrant city became a place to avoid. But that was then. "Given Newark's incredible assets, I couldn't understand the devaluation of its central business district," explains Ron Beit, founder and CEO of RBH Group developers and the leading force behind Teachers Village. Beit discovered Newark in law school while managing a commercial building in the South 34 Oculus Fall 2015 Ward. From the roof he could see the derelict city center, "a donut hole" of empty buildings and parking lots surrounded by still-viable institutions and businesses. He began acquiring land in 2005, touring downtown with billionaire-investor Nicholas Berggruen who, like Beit, immediately understood the potential and told him, "Buy all of it." At roughly $20 per square foot (compared to $400-600 per square foot in Manhattan), they ended up with 79 parcels - 15 million square feet of development capacity. Richard Meier, FAIA, who had previously worked with Berggruen, master planned the full 23-acre area. Meier grew up in Maplewood, NJ, but was born in Newark. All his grandparents lived there, and Meier himself worked downtown in an architect's office while in high school. But before 2008, he had not visited Newark in decades. RBH's assemblage of so many contiguous properties gave rise to a grand plan that could reinvent downtown and invigorate the surrounding city for generations to come. Envisioned are low- and mid-rise residential, commercial, and mixed-use buildings, and a cluster of towers twice the height of the 35-story buildings that currently shape the skyline. Home Game: Winning with Housing

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Oculus - Fall 2015

First Words Letter From the President
Letter From the Editor
Center for Architecture
One Block Over
Opener: Affordability: Many Paths to a Solution
Housing for the 99%
Tower Power
An Active Market for Passive
Ahead of the Class
It Takes a Village
Support System, Modular Style
From Learning to Living
The DIY Approach to Housing
In Print
118-Year Watch
Last Words
Index to Advertisers

Oculus - Fall 2015