Newark Symphony Hall (NSH), New Jersey’s largest Black-led arts and entertainment venue, unveiled designs for its exterior renovation. This is part of a five-year, three-phase $50-million project set to finish on the venue’s 100th birthday in 2025.
The design, from Trenton (New Jersey)-based architectural firm Clarke Caton Hintz (CCH), includes a new marquee and streetscape.
NSH was built in 1925 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. In addition to restoring the building’s façade, the renovation will reimagine the city block by adding bike lanes, improved curbing, a central island, and transportation access.
“With the help of historic preservation experts Clarke Caton Hintz and our wider project team, we will be revitalizing our corner of Broad Street while modernizing—and paying tribute to— our historic venue, an anchor institution for the city,” said Taneshia Nash Laird, NSH president.
CCH’s work includes historical and contemporary design influences matching the venue’s presence in the ‘Brick City.’ Specifically, the hall’s new marquee is reminiscent of the one that stood at NSH between the 1960s-70s. The translucent dome will shine directional light onto the building’s columns making it a ‘beacon’ for Broad Street. The canopy face will be lit with light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs and an illuminated ‘Newark Symphony Hall’ sign.
“We very much appreciate the opportunity to breathe new life into such hallowed ground,” said John Hatch, FAIA, principal with CCH.
“Our idea behind the entry canopy/dome is to think of it as a delicate yet bold structure, a kind of beacon that lights-up the entire entry sequence and invites everyone to come in,” Hatch said. “The dome’s curved glass and chevron shape, along with the creative streetscape, make the hall a gathering agent and, surely, one of the city’s most unique and historic attractions.”
Design features also include a series of in-ground directional LED up-lights to wash onto the façade from the sidewalk. This will be accompanied by new streetlights with ‘tear-drop’ light fixtures in front of the building, matching other sections of Broad Street.
Another standout design element is the ‘NSH Plaza’ in front of the hall, functioning as a crosswalk for pedestrians. A public works and art component is the large ‘NSH’ letters set into the pavement celebrating NSH’s artistic history. Each letter of the abbreviation will house a word-cloud consisting of the hall’s musical alumni.
“The unveiling of our design is just one step toward reaching our final mark in 2025,” Nash Laird said. “Through immense determination and collaboration at the city, state, and federal levels, we know this will be a monumental project and one that will spur job growth and engagement, particularly for [Black, Indigenous, and people of color] BIPOC artists and individuals in our great city and across the Tri-State Area.”
As part of the five-year project, NSH will also improve nearly 4645-m2 (50,000 sf) of tenant space, including reactivating one floor of the hall that has been dormant for more than 30 years. Design specifications also include accessible restaurant space on the street level.