Student Project Wins Award of Excellence

These are findings from a ten-week concept design effort to develop pre-planning insight, urban design concepts and development strategy for the City of Newark's Old Town. The design concepts focus on the Thornton Avenue Corridor between Cherry Street to the East and Ash Street to the West organized into five blocks integrated by street-scape design.

The investigative and design work was completed in three phases of discovery and visioning:

Phase one involved the review and detailed investigation of existing regulatory and design factors underlying the site area including analysis of planning documents and the implications of regulations for site development, individual lot survey and documentation of lot conditions, and interviews and surveys of community members and business related individuals in the area.

Phase two involved development of concept plans that were organized around three discrete design themes and priorities:
   1. The Historic theme featuring concepts that reinforced the underlying historic significance and character of the site.
   2. The Design theme featuring investigation of architectural styles and mix that would complement the existing buildings on the site.
   3. The Housing theme featuring investigation of optimal capacity in the project area to develop a mix of housing unit types to address housing demand.

All three concepts plans were accompanied by a redesign of Thornton Avenue streets-cape to accommodate multi-modal traffic, implement a road diet to bring down vehicle speeds and to create a “bikable” and pedestrian friendly environment. These concept plans were presented to the community. Comments and suggestions that were received informed the final concepts.

Phase three involved envisioning urban design futures for five discrete block-segments of Thornton Avenue. The five segments focused on: 1. Developing a rich and diverse housing mix; 2. Creating a central plaza and performance space for community events as the center of Old Town surrounded by commercial retail with housing above; 3. Designing a Hispanic-themed Mercado complex to support a diversity of retail and services; 4. Outlining a courtyard residential block at an urban scale, and; 5. Designating a civic area gateway to Old Town featuring a library, outdoor recreational spaces, patio and dining areas, housing and gateway features on the street-scape.

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