Newark Visitors Center, Newark NJ
Competition entry, 2nd Place, 2010.
Collaboration with KX-L and Tri Nguyen.
Conceived as part of the Newark Visitor Center International competition, which solicited proposals for a visitor center that would enhance Newark’s future while celebrating its past. Our proposal suggested layering in additional programs that will allow the center to draw in different audiences and expand its offering throughout larger portions of the day, and providing a variety of public spaces that could benefit from increased activity on the site.
The proposed Visitors center attempts to engage the visitors within the fabric of Newark. While housing traditional displays and artifacts guide the visitors through the rich past of Newark, the center also encourages them to step outside and uncover the Newark of the present – its streets, its venues and its residents. Visitors are guided into communities, serving two goals –experiencing what Newark has to offer on the one hand, and injecting life into local businesses and commerce.
The bike discovery center can serve as a prototype for new bike centers in Newark which will create a network throughout the city, which will give Newark an additional layer of infrastructure that can be used by tourists and residents alike, and promote citywide mobility, support economic recovery and encourage physical activity and a healthy lifestyle.
The intersection of Congress St., Market St. and Raymond Blvd. becomes a natural point for small urban plaza. The public portion of the Discovery Center, including the auditorium, galleries, Café, and the Bicycle Discovery Center are entered directly from the urban plaza, both helping generate foot traffic, and using it to promote exposure to the discovery center.
A mix of programs and services ensures that the center is shared by both residents and visitors, creating a fertile opportunity for interaction, exposing the visitors to more of the existing community in Ironbound. In addition, recycled rainwater from the landscape above is used for feed water fountains at the plaza level for added interest for people of all ages.
Parallel paths sustain commuters, residents and visitors along Market St., Raymond Blvd. and the Passaic River. In a point of compression these paths coincide to form new interactions, creating a natural public stage. At the end of Phase One of Newark’s Riverfront Park and across from the proposed theater barge, the Discovery Center acts as a natural bridge allowing the park to enter the city. Bringing the landscape of Riverfront Park to Market Street creates an opportunity for people to cross paths, slow down, and take a break from the commotion below, as well as gain a different vantage point on the city and river.
The landscaped roof allows for different events to occur in it, both planned and spontaneous, linking it to a series of cultural venues along the river, and creating an informal setting for interaction between residents and visitors.