Could Newark, New Jersey, the next big tech hub in the Northeast? It already has the most advanced fiber optic network in the region and is home to digital giants like Audible.com, an Amazon company. No wonder it was one Top contender to the HQ2. While the bid was not won, a large project that has been in the pipeline for three years could take the city’s status to the next level.

A upcoming development in the heart of downtown Newark promises to be an important, mixed-use community for innovative businesses. Riverfront Square, envisaged by the local company Lotus Equity Group, is being built just steps from the Passaic River and has up to 2.3 million square feet of office, residential, hospitality, cultural space and more in the city’s emerging technology sector, the Broad Street Corridor.

The site will be expanded in seven phases, the first four of which will include the construction of eight low-lying towers designed by innovative architects. (Courtesy of the Lotus Equity Group)

Lotus typed TEN architects, Michael Green architecture, Minno & Wasko, and Practice for architecture & urban planning (PAU) to design individual buildings for the 12 acre site as part of a PAU master plan. The seven-phase project will build on the old one Newark Bears ballpark, which will be demolished later this year to make way for the first residential structure, a curved linear building built on a five-story, mixed-use base clad in brick. The elongated structure was designed by PAU and sits on the edge of Riverfront Square along the Essex Freeway.

In an interview with AN in 2017, PAU’s Vishaan Chakrabarti said the city lacks “connective tissue” to connect its many cultural and educational institutions. Riverfront Square will be a kind of “renaissance for Newark” with an emphasis on technology. The first renderings show the first four construction phases, in which 1,300 residential units and half a million square meters of commercial space will be created on the site. The first construction phase should lay the foundation stone this summer.

Rendering of Michael Green solid wood building for Riverfront SquareThe office building will anchor the mixed-use properties and accommodate tech-centric companies. (Courtesy of the Lotus Equity Group)

The focus of the development is a solid wood building, which is touted by Vancouver architect Michael Green as the tallest of its kind in the USA. The 12-story office structure appears to be three separate structures in renderings, but in reality the building has a continuous floor slab connected by a full-height atrium. With 500,000 square feet of office space, it will also include ground floor retail stores, a cafe, and restaurants to spark what the developers want to make a 24/7 neighborhood. It will be built on the southwest corner of the site.

Representation of the roof of an office building by Michael Green The overall master plan for Riverfront Square and Michael Green’s design will connect people to outdoor spaces. (Courtesy of the Lotus Equity Group)

David Linehan, Lotus’ architect and development manager at Riverfront Square, said creating a sustainable environment for the benefit of Newark (and to attract people) was a key component of the project that the city understands and supports. “It’s difficult to get newer products and ideas like using bulk wood for large projects through current codes, especially in New York,” he said. “For Newark, we’re working with the state of New Jersey to review the existing codes that allow wood to be used at that level. The city sees it as an opportunity to be at the forefront of what will clearly be an important part of the future construction industry in the US. “

Interior rendering of the office building by Michael Green The project aims to include the tallest solid wood building in the country, a goal the developer says will hopefully attract tenants to Riverfront Square. (Courtesy of the Lotus Equity Group)

During the second construction phase, four rectangular towers will be erected on the southern edge of the site along Broad Street. Enrique Norten will design the buildings, which are slightly offset from one another to maximize light, air and views of the New York skyline. You likely have a metal plate and a glass facade.

Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects will submit a plan for the site’s green spaces that will turn a very urban, concrete area into a natural leisure and cultural space for residents and local workers. The landscape is intended to improve the connection between the city center and the neighboring country Newark Riverfront Park, an ongoing landscape development that received one award-winning first design by Lee Weintraub in 2013. James Corner Field Operations is scheduled for Create another 15 acres Place for the park in the years to come.