In Newark, Meier’s Site-Driven Design

October 7, 2013


A new, four-story, 90,000 square-foot, mixed use building in the Four Corners neighborhood of Newark, designed by Richard Meier & Partners, breaks away from all kinds of precedents.

It houses two charter schools on its top three floors, one laid out in an open plan, and the other more traditional. It’s adjacent to three residential housing units for educators, as part of a complex that’s known as Teachers School.

Moreover it’s built of brick. And red brick – not white – at that.

“It’s brick because Newark is a brick city,” says Remy Bertin, the project architect. “We wanted it to be part of the neighborhood, so the site drove a lot of what we did with the design.”

The architects, who developed the master plan for the residential, education and retail complex, looked around the city for visual cues, and then to the firm’s own work.

“There’s a dialog with our buildings – we use our own work as a guide,” he says. “It s a language that’s been applied and that references what we’ve done in the past. But probably there’s a lot less here, because haven’t done a masonry building in 40 years.”

The school could’ve been contextual white masonry, he acknowledges, since a number of theaters and other buildings in the neighborhood are clad in white-glazed terra cotta.

But it’s not – and that’s a thoughtful, bright and refreshing statement from Meier & Partners.

“It’s not an object in a field – it’s part of the very strong city fabric,” he says. “We expanded it in an area that has large blocks of buildings, so really it’s about creating a fabric amenable to pedestrians and retail use, and putting in buildings that are more contextual.”

The schools, completed on Sept. 25, are at 230 Halsey Street.

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