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Sense of Place

The Central King Building at NJIT

New biological sciences education and research center, home for the New Jersey Innovation Institute
University Business, June 2017
  • OLD MEETS NEW—The Central King Building at NJIT offers cutting-edge education space amid Gothic architecture. Says President Joel Bloom: “This facility provides ample space for our students to work in teams on projects, which is the learning style of this university.”
  • OLD MEETS NEW—The Central King Building at NJIT offers cutting-edge education space amid Gothic architecture. Says President Joel Bloom: “This facility provides ample space for our students to work in teams on projects, which is the learning style of this university.”

A century-old Gothic high school has been transformed into a new biological sciences education and research center as well as the new home for the New Jersey Innovation Institute. The $86 million renovation also supports the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s partnerships with the surrounding businesses.

The region is home to 15 of the 17 largest pharmaceutical companies and is known as “The Medicine Cabinet of the World.” 

  • Challenge: As one of only 32 polytechnic institutions in the nation, the university’s enrollment has grown 6 percent over the past four years, bringing more than 11,400 students to its 50-acre campus. The biology research program is one of its fastest-growing majors.

“We were desperate for classrooms,” President Joel Bloom says. “And instead of tearing the building down, given its history in the city, we wanted to renovate it and keep as much of the original exterior and interior surfaces, which includes real brick walls and granite floors. It also has skylights and archways that are just stunning.” 

The project is designed to achieve LEED Gold certification.

  • Solution: The renovated, five-story edifice now provides nearly 200,000 square feet of education and research space, including 33 classrooms, biology labs, a math emporium, an 800-seat auditorium and a writing center—all while keeping many original building design elements, such as rooftop gargoyles.

The fourth floor alone offers 16,000 square feet of biology research labs, and includes equipment such as tanks for blind walking fish, which are being studied because of their unique anatomy and potential connection to human evolution. 

Floors were cut through in some spots to expand and redesign layouts, providing students with more than 10,000 square feet of open collaboration space. In addition, the building has Wi-Fi, high-back chairs and comfort-able couches, all of which students began taking advantage of the moment the construction tape came down on the first day of the spring semester.

“We didn’t need to put out a welcome sign,” says Bloom. “We hadn’t even cut the ribbon yet on the entire building, and it was filled with students, which spoke to the need for that kind of space.”

  • Completed: January 2017
  • Cost: $86 million
  • Project team: Architects: Marvel Architects (New York, N.Y.); consultants: A&J Consulting Engineering Services (Clifton, N.J.); construction manager: Torcon (Red Bank, N.J.)

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