Richard Meier’s mixed-use Teachers Village development is revitalizing downtown Newark

Posted On Thu, February 23, 2017 By

Posted On Thu, February 23, 2017 By In Architecture, New Developments, New Jersey, Starchitecture

Residential Building VII, via Scott Frances

With Hoboken long gone and Jersey City well in the throes of gentrification, it makes sense that Newark is the next New Jersey city poised for a renaissance. Not only is it easily accessible via both NJ Transit and the PATH, but its wealth of former industrial buildings lend themselves to a DUMBO-esque revitalization. In the up-and-coming downtown area, Newark native Richard Meier is behind Teachers Village, a 23-acre, mixed-use complex that is well on its way to restoring a sense of community to the neighborhood. The $150 million project will encompass three charter schools, ground-level retail, and 204 residential units with a preference given to educators, all located in six new buildings designed in the starchitect’s signature style of white materials and gridded facades.

Richard Meier, RBH Group, Teachers Village, downtown Newark
Via Scott Frances

Teachers Village came about when developer RBH Group bought more than 70 parcels of land in an area strategically located a block from the Prudential Center, very near to Newark Penn Station, a ten-minute walk to the Light Rail station, and not far from Mulberry Commons, a similarly sized, mixed-use development that also hopes to breathe new life in downtown Newark. As 6sqft reported earlier this month, the Commons will not only bring new residential and commercial space, but create “a three-acre park and a High Line-style pedestrian bridge that would connect the Ironbound neighborhood [another name for downtown] to Newark Penn Station and the central business district.”

Richard Meier, RBH Group, Teachers Village, downtown NewarkResidential Building I via Scott Frances

Richard Meier, RBH Group, Teachers Village, downtown Newark
Residential Building VI via Scott Frances

RBH began consulting nearly a decade ago with Meier, who said at a presentation at his New York office that he was very drawn to the project for a few main reasons: “1, I was born in Newark; 2, my grandparents lived all of their lives in Newark; and 3, Newark doesn’t have the best reputation, and it needs this kind of thing to realize that it is an important city.” He added, “it is the kind of project that could happen in a number of places and give a spark to that area, which is what we hope will happen. it’s not just our site, but it reaches out and has an effect on the entire community.”

The development broke ground in 2012, and a year later the Team Charter, Discovery Charter, and Great Oaks Charter Schools were open with more than 1,000 teachers and students. Early this year the residential phase will wrap up; 123 units are completed and occupied, 70 percent by teachers and other educators.

Richard Meier, RBH Group, Teachers Village, downtown Newark

Richard Meier, RBH Group, Teachers Village, downtown NewarkEntrance to the charter school and their connecting bridge, via Paúl Rivera

RBH founder and CEO Ron Beit told NJ.com that of the 18 storefronts, three are open–Closet Savvy, Provident Bank, Bella Nail Lounge and Beauty Bar. In the coming weeks, Krausers convenience store and Tonnie’s Minis cupcake bakery will also open, and the next six months will usher in medical services, restaurants, and fresh food marketplace. In addition, Beit said the surrounding area, known as the Halsey Street Corridor, has seen a wave of new development thanks to Teachers Village, including new apartments and a Whole Foods.

Richard Meier, RBH Group, Teachers Village, downtown NewarkLooking south on Halsey Street with the school entrances on the left and Residential Building VI on the right, via Scott Frances

Associate partners Vivian Lee and Dukho Yeon, along with project architects Ananth Sampathkumar
 and Chris Townsend, headed up the project for Richard Meier & Partners. They worked in accordance with the Newark Living Downtown Plan, which dictates that street-facing facades along Halsey Street not exceed 60 feet in height and be set back.

Sustainability also played a key role, as Teachers Village is one of the first projects in the country to receive the LEED Neighborhood Development Designation by the US Green Building Council, which is awarded to neighborhoods that integrate “the principles of smart growth, urbanism, and green building strategies.” To that end, a green courtyard and white roofing help reduce the heat island effect, full-height glazing maximizes light and views, high-efficiency glass diffuses light and optimizes energy performance.

Richard Meier, RBH Group, Teachers Village, downtown NewarkLooking north along Halsey Street via Scott Frances

Richard Meier, RBH Group, Teachers Village, downtown NewarkExterior of the gym, via Paúl Rivera

One interesting element is Meier’s departure from his signature white facade on some of the buildings. RBH worked with Newark’s Landmarks & Historic Preservation Commission to create buildings that would respect and blend with the scale and style of the existing building stock, much of which is brick. Therefore, as the Architect’s Newspaper notes, this was the first time since the 1960s that Meier used red brick, though in this case the brick “is inflected with iron, projecting a soft metallic glow in the right light, a still-earthy foil to white aluminum panel– and stucco-clad buildings nearby.”

Richard Meier, RBH Group, Teachers Village, downtown NewarkA close-up of the skylights, via Paúl Rivera

Richard Meier, RBH Group, Teachers Village, downtown NewarkRooftop and playground area, via Paúl Rivera

Richard Meier, RBH Group, Teachers Village, downtown NewarkThe gym via Paúl Rivera

Richard Meier, RBH Group, Teachers Village, downtown Newark
An apartment interior in Residential Building VII, via Scott Frances

His firm also designed the apartment and school interiors, which feature oversized windows and high ceilings. As Meier explained, “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.”

Richard Meier, RBH Group, Teachers Village, downtown Newark

The sixth and final building of Teachers Village is expected to open this spring.

[Via ArchDaily]

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