Rutgers University—Newark, L+M Development Partners

Express Newark Community Arts Center

Newark, NJ

Project Details

Supporting, celebrating, & reinforcing Rutgers’ connection to Newark through the Arts

Express Newark was born of a unique opportunity for Rutgers University to strengthen its relationship with the City of Newark through the creation of an arts-focused community-based educational program. In partnership with Rutgers and L+M Development Partners, KSS transformed 50,000 square feet of the former Hahne & Co. department store building into a “third space” for Newark artists and arts organizations, faculty, staff, and students of Rutgers to create, exhibit, and engage in conversation around arts, entrepreneurship, and social justice.

To design a space that would support, celebrate, and reinforce Rutgers’ connection to Newark’s vibrant arts community, the design team engaged a wide variety of Newark artists, from writers and musicians to oil painters and quilters to explore how they would use the space. It became clear that the print shop would be a hub of activity—as such, it is strategically positioned as a jewel to attract and engage visitors. An iconic circulating stair threads people throughout the spaces to interact with one another. Geometrically distinctive wall angles frame and catalyze spontaneous interactions. A mural splashes across the walls of the print shop, blurring art and architecture. 

Express Newark highlights the city’s rich history, showcases its cultural assets, and has created dedicated community spaces that provide access to and engagement with the arts. Here, students are empowered through numerous community partnerships, artists are inspired to produce and display their work, and the public is invited to take part in exhibits, events, and more. A thriving ecosystem of its own, Express Newark feeds the larger arts ecosystem of Newark as an engaging place for creativity, community, and connection. 

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