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A Conceptual Design Competition for Newark Visitor's Center

Currently, Newark has no visitor's center ... but this AIA-NJ competition will hopefully change that


A Conceptual Design Competition for Newark Visitor's Center A Conceptual Design Competition for Newark Visitor's Center

Almost every major city has a visitor’s center where people can go for information about the city and all it has to offer. Newark, NJ, the 65th largest city in the country, doesn’t have one.

As a step toward solving this problem, the Newark and Suburban section of the New Jersey chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA-NJ) commissioned a design competition that challenged architects to design a Newark Visitor’s Center. Although it was a conceptual design competition, they hope the competition will encourage such a building to be built in Newark.

The winning entry was designed by a team from Di Domenico + Partners of Long Island City, NY. The firm created structure with an undulating green roof that’s a metaphor for the Passaic River.

“The challenge of the competition was to design a center that would be a destination spot on its own, and that would also create a clear identity for the city. The contestants more than delivered,” says Alok K. Saksena, the competition’s creator and director.

“With so many comprehensive and intelligent submissions, many of which demonstrated an extraordinary degree of creativity, it was hard to settle on just four.”

The contest called for a design for a 13,435-square-foot green building with multi-faceted uses that would fit into the surrounding community and reflect the city’s diversity. The uses included 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 parking while still providing for a pedestrian-friendly site.

In addition to serving as a metaphor for the river, the green roof fulfills the competition’s sustainability requirement by serving as an extension of the riverfront green belt, providing “lungs” for the city, as well as a place for residents to congregate informally and for more formal events, such as concerts and theater. The roof also functions as a means of conserving on energy costs and controlling stormwater runoff.

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