A Renaissance for Camden
Decades of stalled starts are giving way to a new era in Camden development. Business, grassroots activities, plans to attract new residents, and a focus on education are uniting to craft a robust, multiprong approach to change.
Design for People with Special Needs
We believe that environments can fundamentally alter the behavior of individuals with ASD, and that, all too often, individuals find themselves struggling against the parameters of a space. Building ASD-friendly environments has become part of our vocabulary.
The campus for Eden Autism Services in Princeton, N.J., is a close-knit community with a special needs school, an early intervention center and group homes. Just beyond the buildings, however, the safe atmosphere abruptly disappears into the roaring traffic on U.S. Route 1, one of the busiest highways in central New Jersey.
Beyond their small campus, students have little opportunity for interactions, says Thomas McCool, president and CEO of Eden.
“There’s so much traffic, it puts restrictions on having the students outside, taking walks and going places,” McCool says.
That will change in 2011 when Eden moves to a new site in Princeton Forrestal Village, a growing mixed-use development with shops, restaurants, offices and housing. The school will remain within commuting distance for students, families and teachers, but more importantly, “Students can become fully integrated in a city-like setting with streets they can walk on and interact with others,” McCool says.
From Campus Tour to Golden Walk
In the current economy, competition for students has grown even stronger. Colleges and universities are racing to upgrade campus infrastructure and expand their arsenal of recruitment tools. At the same they must tighten budgets, postpone capital projects, and freeze hiring. One very effective and low-cost solution for institutions could literally be rounding the corner right now: the campus tour. By improving their Golden Walk, institutions can show what makes their campus special in a way that better engages prospective and enrolled students.
Pamela Rew has designed academic buildings and master plans for more than 20 years. But when time came to visit colleges with her oldest daughter, she began seeing campuses in a different light—as a parent anxious for her child’s safety and happiness, and as a spectator on the quintessential campus tour. Her daughter, who has the fortune of having two architects as parents, later became a tour leader as a Tufts University freshman. Together they offer their professional and personal thoughts on the Golden Walk that every college needs to know but rarely asks.
The Power of Good Story, Well Told
What is the story of your University? Is it rich in history and heritage? Are your traditions and culture passed along to each new generation? Ultimately, how can the built-form of your story bring your campus community together, fostering interaction, collaboration and camaraderie?
A successful Student Center envisions and encapsulates the heart of a University by taking the elements and attributes that make it special and turning them into a tool – a physical environment that attracts and builds community and generates a sense of pride and purpose.
What is an urban food desert? Often located in low-income, high-development areas urban food deserts or “nutritional wastelands” are running over with fast food restaurants and expensive convenience stores, but little to no affordable healthy food options. For the folks who live in these areas the fresh produce that does exist is outrageously expensive, which makes the trip to the corner fast food restaurant more appealing and economical. As one of the leading issues facing New Jersey, much has been said about the concept of urban food deserts. According to the federal government, New Jersey contains 134 “nutritional wastelands.” How can New Jersey solve this problem locally? Enter the entrepreneurs.
Reimagine. Reinvent. Reinvigorate.
Turning visions into the reality. Fiercely reimagining what places can be. Transforming that of little perceived value into something with lasting value. Ultimately, it takes more courage, conviction and know-how to work with that which has been left behind, rather than that which is served on a blank slate.
Matrix Development Group identified one such opportunity: an abandoned corporate park along the New Jersey Turnpike – formerly the Rhodia Pharmaceutical Campus. It was dog-eared from its heyday in the 1970’s, but the existing infrastructure and utilities remained largely intact and usable, with allowances for moderate alterations and code compliance. Well-traveled access roads to turnpike Interchange 8A not only preexisted, but had been well-designed to handle the load of transport vehicles to and from the surrounding warehouse and distribution centers.
Breaking Down Campus Walls
When university expansion provides tangible improvements to the community and engages community in the planning process, everyone benefits. Community resistance becomes community support. The Charter High School and West Side Campus are models of this approach and provide a new, positive meaning behind the phrase “town and gown.”
From High Tops to Hip-Hop
Can an old gymnasium, with one foot in the past, take a monumental step forward and live again in infamy? Yes. It is the perfect candidate to become a repurposed and revitalized visual and performing arts center, poised to make a new era of memories for the school.
A Community of Care
No longer is childcare for young children simply babysitting. Today’s childcare centers are dynamic places of learning. They are real educational facilities where children grow, play, socialize and share, and where families receive holistic support, guidance, and care. More than just a place to pass the time while mom or dad are at work, they are community-oriented anchors activating and rejuvenating neighborhoods, towns, and cities.
Preserving Assets, Expanding Access
Thousands of items are added to libraries’ collections each year. Whether a university or public library, chances are that premium space is limited, yet collection expectations and demand for materials remain high. Where can these compendia be housed, yet still be readily accessible? The increasingly popular answer – high-capacity, climate controlled off-campus library storage – less circulated assets are sent to storage, liberating prime shelving for the more popular, heavily rotated items.