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Megan Apostol

DMR Honored with CIANJ Environmental Leadership Medal

DMR Honored with CIANJ Environmental Leadership Medal 789 444 DMR Architects

On April 26 DMR was among those to receive a 2019 Environmental Leadership Medal from the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey (CIANJ) at its celebration of environmental leadership in the business community. The inaugural awards program celebrated environmentally-friendly companies that have demonstrated leadership in sustainability. DMR was honored in the category of green leadership, which recognized the firm for having a commitment to sustainability at the management level.

DMR has been at the forefront of sustainability and sustainable design in New Jersey for more than 15 years. The firm was one of the earliest to embrace LEED certification, with the first of its professionals receiving certification in 2003. This commitment led to the creation of a Director of Sustainable Design position, one that is still fulfilled by the same person, a Partner of the firm, today. The firm also designed Carlstadt Elementary School, the first LEED Silver public school in New Jersey and the first LEED certified building in Bergen County, a catalyst to a portfolio of LEED certified buildings that now includes five Gold, Silver and Certified level projects, with several more on the boards to receive certification in 2019.

Pictured above, from left to right, are Francis Reiner, CIANJ President Anthony Russo, and Lloyd Rosenberg.

DMR Plans 25th Project for Bayonne BOE in Long-Term Reinvestment Relationship

DMR Plans 25th Project for Bayonne BOE in Long-Term Reinvestment Relationship 789 444 DMR Architects

Upgrades at Bayonne High School marks the Board of Education’s 25th project by DMR Architects since 2013, a combination of reinvestment and design work at eight schools to accommodate the increase in its school-aged population, support new technologies, and respond to safety guidelines.

The cumulative construction cost of more than $10 million includes district-wide projects such as roof replacements, cafeteria renovations, window replacements, masonry repairs, security enhancements and similar capital improvement projects at eight of Bayonne’s 11 pre-k through eighth grade schools and one high school.

“We’re glad to support the Bayonne Board of Education and the important work they do to educate their school-aged population,” Lloyd A. Rosenberg, AIA. “We’ve done hundreds of school projects, and they are all special to us for unique reasons; the Bayonne relationship means a lot to me because I went to Kindergarten at one of the schools where we have worked, Horace Mann School.”

Projects to implement DMR’s design plans are currently underway at Bayonne High School, Lincoln Community School, Midtown Community School, and Woodrow Wilson School, and have been completed at Dr. Walter F. Robinson School, Horace Mann School, Philip G. Vroom School and Washington Community School.

Public Infrastructure Procurement: A Whole New Ball Game?

Public Infrastructure Procurement: A Whole New Ball Game? 960 540 DMR Architects

By Charles H. Sarlo, Esq.

Recently enacted legislation has revived the P3 (public-private partnership) conversation in New Jersey, with DMR, a longtime supporter of the model, leading the way through a variety of advocacy efforts. In addition to the below blog post, DMR’s public advocacy has included other published media, webinar and conference involvement. For a complete roundup, please click here.

The below blog post originally appeared in the April 2019 New Jersey Association of Counties newsletter. 

New Jersey’s public contracts laws date back to 1917 at the time when Ty Cobb was the highest paid major league baseball player with an annual salary of $20,000.   While there has certainly been revisions to the law, as to how public projects are procured, the underlying basis over the last 100 years has remained the same, that being a low bid, competitive process.

In the last two months, we have a whole new ball game.  Mike Trout opted not to pursue free agency and signed one of the largest contract extensions, worth $430 million, and public entities in the State now have an alternate public infrastructure procurement path in the form of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Law, which became effective on February 10, 2019 (L.2018, c 90, s1; N.J.S.S. 40A:11-52 et seq.).  The PPP Law provides for a design-build-finance-operate-maintain business model.

As with any new law, there is certainly unbridled excitement especially with the private sector eager to provide its innovative intellect and financial vigor to craft and implement proposed solutions to the public sectors’ backlog of unfunded infrastructure projects.  Is the PPP Law a game changer?  From a limited historical context, the State saw the commitment of just under one billion dollars of private investment for eleven, capital infrastructure projects in higher education, from 2010 through 2015, under the PPP provision within the 2009 Stimulus Act, which has sunset.  It is certainly anticipated that not every public project will be done under the PPP Law, as the anticipated Treasury regulations will require, in-part, proof that the proposed project is sufficiently complex in terms of the technical and / or financial requirements to effectively leverage private sector innovation and expertise.   However, once the public sector becomes more familiar with the regulatory process and the benefits of performing a project via a public-private-partnership, it is expected that this business model will certainly change the game, just as we recently saw with Mike Trout not only getting free agent type money, but being able to stay with the team that drafted him rather than opting for free agency.

Gargiulo Campus Honored with LEED Project of the Year Award

Gargiulo Campus Honored with LEED Project of the Year Award 789 444 DMR Architects

The Frank J. Gargiulo Campus, the new, 350,000 square foot high school that opened its doors in September 2018, has won the LEED Project of the Year: Schools Award from the United States Green Building Council New Jersey Chapter (USGBC NJ).

The vocational-technical high school is an icon for sustainability, equipped with wind turbines, geothermal heating, 27,000 square feet of solar panels and 20,000 square feet of green roofs. Beyond these unrivaled sustainable features, in line with the project-based learning curriculum of the school, a sustainability curriculum was developed surrounding the school’s features. In addition, educational signage throughout the facility, dedicated ecology events throughout the year, a strict commitment to recycling and a green cleaning contract all contribute to the development of life-long sustainable champions within the four walls of the facility. The project is anticipated to receive LEED Gold certification this year.

The project was an intense collaborative effort and included a team of numerous professional services and construction firms, with DMR serving as the architect of record and LEED specialist. The school, part of the Hudson County Schools of Technology system, is home to High Tech High School, KAS Prep and Hudson Technical.

All LEED Project of the Year award winners will be honored at an event on May 22 at the Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick.

Municipalities and P3: Diving Into the Innovative Economy

Municipalities and P3: Diving Into the Innovative Economy 960 540 DMR Architects

By Charles H. Sarlo, Esq.

Municipalities have the ability to be innovative and creative in addressing their infrastructure capital needs as a result of the newly enacted Public Private Partnership Law (PPP or P3), which became effective February 10 (L.2018, c.90, s.1; N.J.S.A. 40A:11 -52, et seq.). In order to ensure that a municipality’s economic decisions are financially prudent, the P3 law has built-in safeguards in the form of competitive solicitation, transparency in the form of public hearings, and checks and balances in the form of the State Treasurer making specific findings in connection with the approval of PPP projects.

The simplest definition of a Public Private Partnership is a contractual arrangement between a public entity and a private entity that allows for greater private sector participation in the delivery and financing of capital projects with the objective of shifting risk to the private sector. The P3 law allows for a design-build-finance-operate-maintain methodology to deliver capital projects and is an alternative project delivery method to the traditional procurement pursuant to the Local Public Contracts Law (LPCL), which is recognized as a design-bid-build approach.

Broad applicability

The P3’s statutory applicability in New Jersey is broad, as it allows the P3 project delivery model to be used for any building, local or county road, vertical structure, or facility constructed or acquired by a local government unit (defined to not only be municipalities, but also other public entities that are subject to the LPCL or Local Redevelopment and Housing Law) to operate local government functions, including any infrastructure or facility used or to be used by the public or in support of a public purpose or activity.

Today, the private sector’s innovative intellect and financial vigor can craft and implement proposed solutions to a municipality’s infrastructure needs. The theme of private sector innovative intellect is front and center in New Jersey’s P3 law, which allows the private sector to submit an unsolicited proposal in the form of a “project playbook” that includes certain statutory requirements.

Should the municipality elect to proceed, it must seek competitive proposals via a public procurement process that must also meet the minimum statutory requirements that that satisfy the same basic purpose and need of the unsolicited proposal. In the alternative, the municipality can issue a public procurement request-for-qualifications. Upon a determination of the qualified respondents, based, in part, on minimum standards to be promulgated by the State Treasurer, the municipality is required to issue a request for proposals.

Regardless of whether the unsolicited proposal or the solicited proposal pathway is applied, the municipality would rank the proposals received in order of preference based, in part, on minimum standards to be promulgated by the State Treasurer. Thereafter, the municipality is required to make specific determinations of the top-ranked proposals and hold a public hearing at which the specific findings must be made in order to find that the project is in the best interest of the public.

Subsequent to the public hearing, the municipality is required to submit a P3 application to the State Treasurer for review and approval. The statute requires the submission of specific items, including: full description of the proposed P3 agreement, a full description of the project, description of any agreement for the lease of a revenue-producing facility related to the project, the estimated costs and financial documentation for the project showing the underlying financial models and assumptions that determined the estimated costs, timetable for project completion, evidence of the public benefit in advancing the project as a P3, and the municipality’s findings during it’s proposal review and the public hearing.

For municipal projects, the State Treasurer, in consultation with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) and the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), is statutorily charged with approving P3 applications. In order to validate that the proposed P3 project is in the best interest of the public, the State Treasurer must make specific findings for a P3 project approval.

If the P3 project is approved, the municipality can then enter into a P3 agreement with the private sector, which needs to include certain provisions, such as a completion date guarantee, liquidated damages, maximum rate of return to private entity, and a provision for the distribution of excess earnings to the local government or the private party for debt reduction, a project labor agreement, performance and payment bonds, prevailing wage, and the establishment of a construction account with a third-party financial institution to act as a collateral agent.

As with any newly enacted law, one can certainly anticipate litigation involving the P3 law in which a party seeks to clarify the intent of certain provisions, reconcile inconsistencies or challenge the law’s applicability.

Understandably, the initial inquiry by a public official will invariably be “Why?”

Why chose to undertake a capital infrastructure project on a path that appears to be complex, burdensome, and untested–while it may also be assumed to be more costly and potentially fraught with a litigation challenge–rather than the time-tested procurement under the Local Publics Contract Law. For each initial negative reaction, P3 advocates and P3 case studies can illustrate a positive counter. Generally, it has been proven that there is a role for the private sector to foster solutions for public sector challenges. A well-designed P3 is intended to be performance-based and outcome-focused with a risk-sharing approach where asset performance is optimized for the long term.

Qualifying considerations

Notwithstanding that some who have had firsthand experience undertaking a capital project under the LPCL would certainly express concerns that they experienced regarding project cost overruns, claims, and missed project completion dates, it should be recognized that the P3 law should not be considered a blanket replacement to capital project procurement under the LPCL, as not every project is appropriate for a P3 arrangement.

National P3 players will advise that a project cost of $50 million is the minimum project threshold for a P3 project. The New Jersey P3 law prohibits the bundling of projects (i.e., two or more projects considered as one for a P3 arrangement). However, there are many infrastructure needs of municipalities and other local government units with project costs less than $50 million.

Notwithstanding this industry threshold, it is fully expected and anticipated that the New Jersey local know-how of the private sector will adeptly be able propose P3 arrangements to the public sector pursuant to the P3 law, for many of a municipality’s capital infrastructure projects regardless of project size. The public sector should embrace the imagination of the private sector as related to its capital infrastructure needs and base its procurement decisions on sound economic analysis, which supports beneficial fiscal and social impacts as required by the P3 law.

The dawn of Public-Private-Partnerships in New Jersey is now. As may be applicable, it would certainly be prudent for public officials, who are charged with balancing the needs for public funds while developing, upgrading or replacing public infrastructure, to certainly consider the Public-Private-Partnership business model as an alternative procurement process, notwithstanding its embryonic stage.

This article originally appeared in New Jersey Municipalities.

DMR Redefines Fitness Facilities to Encompass 21st Century Uses

DMR Redefines Fitness Facilities to Encompass 21st Century Uses 789 444 DMR Architects

DMR is designing 21st-Century fitness spaces throughout North Jersey to support not just the physical well-being of the communities we serve, but also the mental and social well-being, with modern spaces in schools, community centers and sports facilities.

DMR’s designs reflect the needs for all ages including safe after-school programs for children, extensive exercise options for adults, and places for seniors to meet up or take classes.

“Our clients are looking for spaces to get people out of their homes—away from their computers and game consoles—so that they can get back to face-to-face interactions,” Lloyd A. Rosenberg, AIA.  “Technology is great for so many things, but it can’t replace the physical and mental benefits of sports and fitness, and shared experiences with your neighbors.”

DMR’s current portfolio includes the following physical fitness facilities:

Public Community Center

DMR’s plans for the renovation and expansion of the M&M Building Community Center at 116 Holt St. in Hackensack encompass converting the existing 8,000 square foot one-story building with 24-foot ceilings into a two-story structure, and the addition of 14,000 square feet to accommodate a new lobby on the first floor and a multi-purpose gymnasium on the second floor.  Plans addressed the city’s need for more space to accommodate for more athletic team practices and game spaces, an after-school program for elementary and middle school-aged kids, and classes and activities for retired seniors.

The first floor will offer community meeting and classroom spaces, new restroom facilities, a snack bar, storage area, an office for the center’s administration, and elevator for access to the second floor.  In addition to the new gymnasium space, the second floor will have more meeting and classroom space, two offices, a kitchen and restrooms.

Renovations to convert this underutilized building into a center of activity are expected to be completed in summer 2019.

Private Community Center

DMR repurposed the former NBA Nets training facility at 390 Murry Hill Parkway in East Rutherford into an 83,200-square-foot Meadowlands Area YMCA which answers the needs of today’s health-conscious population in a modern accessible environment.

Using the building’s already-existing NBA-grade basketball courts as the facilities focal point, DMR converted the rest of the building, previously used for offices, into spaces traditionally expected at a YMCA including an expansive fitness center with Technogym cardio machines, an aquatic with a six-lane, Olympic-sized competition pool, and daycare at the Mara Center for Early Childhood Learning, with modern add-ons like informal meeting spaces throughout the building, group exercise classes, and education space for students and adults of all ages, mental and fitness levels.

The Meadowlands Area YMCA is the first centralized location for the organization’s 15,000 members from eight municipalities in almost a century.  It opened in 2017.

Indoor Athletic Facility

DMR’s plans will convert a currently vacant 2.5-acre lot on Meadowlands Parkway in Secaucus into a 51,750 square foot indoor sports facility for the Town of Secaucus to fill the recreation department’s gap in adequate centralized space for group youth and adult sports activities, training and league competitions in sports including football, soccer, wrestling and lacrosse.

In addition to a 24,300-square foot synthetic turf field that can be divided into up to four fields, the new facility will include administration offices, lockers, a convenience stand, storage, and bleachers with a forced air heating system.

Construction on the project will start in summer 2019 and is expected to be completed in summer 2020.

Educational Athletic Facility

Students at the newly-opened Frank J. Gargiulo Campus in Secaucus are taking physical education and elective classes that rival options more likely found at a spa or private club with its 12,000-square foot gymnasium complemented by indoor spaces for yoga, dance, cross fit training, cycling, Martial arts, weight training, and climbing.  The school’s campus includes a paved outdoor path for walking and running with fitness stations throughout the path.

The design team included numerous professionals who paid special care to keep the fitness areas separate from each other and the rest of the school, employing a sound engineer to ensure that sound and vibrations from one area of the school do not affect the utilization of other areas.

Space was also dedicated to faculty to encourage their use of the exercise options with locker rooms separate from those used by students, complete with showers and saunas.

Former Annin Flag Factory Is new Standard for Luxury Apartment Living

Former Annin Flag Factory Is new Standard for Luxury Apartment Living 789 444 DMR Architects

The rehabilitation of the former Annin Flag Factory and completion of a new sister building at 151 Bloomfield Avenue into Annin Lofts marks a new standard for luxury rental options in Essex County.

Joint venture partners Russo Development and Dinallo Construction Corporation used the original building’s industrial history and façade as inspiration incorporating exposed brick, beams and duct work, shiplap accents, industrial lighting, high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows into the design of its 52 loft-style apartment homes and common areas.

The 60 apartment homes in the second building complements the first with large windows and expansive floorplans but with finished walls and ceilings for those going for a more traditional vibe.

“Annin Lofts is the only residential rental option in the area that offers homes in a rehabbed historic building and a brand-new build in the same place,” Edward Russo, CEO of Russo Development, said.  “Our design team seamlessly married the vintage industrial vibe with modern conveniences to meet the market’s desire for diverse and unique living spaces.”

“Converting a 100-year old industrial building into modern, diverse living spaces always presents unique challenges,” Donald N. Dinallo, President and CEO of Dinallo Construction Corporation, who built the project, said. “Each apartment home has something special—a private outdoor space, original materials, or an imaginative floorplan—providing a distinctive canvas for residents to make their own once they move in.”

DMR designed the project, which includes a sixth floor penthouse structure to the Annin building to accommodate a large indoor club room and two outdoor entertaining spaces that residents of both buildings can use. The design also included four penthouse homes with wrap-around porches and 180-degree views of the surrounding valley.

The name of the project was chosen to respect the legacy of Annin, the largest and oldest flagmaker in the United States. The Annin Flag Company occupied the property from 1919 to 2013 where it made numerous flags of historical significance including those flown atop Mt. Suribachi during World War II, on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission, and during America’s bicentennial celebration in 1976.

DMR-designed Grande at Metropark Welcomes First Residents

DMR-designed Grande at Metropark Welcomes First Residents 150 150 DMR Architects

Residents have starting moving into the first phase of the 355-unit, DMR-designed The Grande at Metropark, and when completed, its units will bring the firm’s portfolio to 3,000 rental and condo units in more than 20 communities in New Jersey.

Developer SAMTD Acquisitions Woodbridge Urban Renewal LLC retained DMR in 2016 for the four-building community of one- and two-bedroom units and two-story loft-style units with mezzanines.  The plans also include 12,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space.

“Woodbridge’s position at the nexus of great shopping, major automotive arteries and public transportation makes it a very appealing place to live, with the number of people wanting to live there outpacing the residential housing options,” said Kurt Vierheilig, AIA, LEED AP BD+C. “The Grande at Metropark expands the number of homes to choose from while offering a modern luxury rental option that was not previously available in this market.”

DMR’s design incorporated luxury amenities including a club room and movie theater for all buildings to use, family dining rooms with warming kitchenettes for party rentals, and fitness centers in each building.  Outdoor spaces throughout the property include a pool, gazebos and outdoor seating areas, as well as a roof top terrace with landscaping, barbeque grills and fire pits.  Pet-friendly options include a dog run and dog washing stations at each of the buildings.

Redevelopment Summit Celebrates Milestones and Sets Vision

Redevelopment Summit Celebrates Milestones and Sets Vision 789 444 DMR Architects

Elected Officials and leaders from the public and private sectors including Hackensack’s Mayor John P. LaBrosse, Jr., Deputy Mayor Kathleen Canestrino and representatives from Hekemian & Company Inc., Russo Development, HornRock Properties, Claremont Companies, Heritage Capital, Waypoint Residential, Lighthouse Living, and DMR Architects celebrated Hackensack’s revitalization accomplishments and set a vision for its future at the recent Hackensack Redevelopment Summit.

At the event, hosted by the City of Hackensack and the Performing Arts Center, developers were invited to continue to fulfill the vision outlined in the City of Hackensack’s Downtown Rehabilitation Plan, which includes improvements to transportation alternatives, parks and open spaces, retail, restaurants and biosciences.

“The success of the City’s revitalization efforts is based on the public and private sector’s ability to work together to create a vibrant mixed-use downtown,” Francis Reiner, PP, LLA stated.  “This was an opportunity for the City, and its partners to set new goals and a vision for the next eight to 10 years.”

The transformation of the City of Hackensack, which began in 2012 with the conversion of an underutilized parking lot into the Atlantic Street Park and the construction of adjacent Performing Arts Center, has advanced to include more than 20 redevelopment plans with more than 3,000 residential units with an estimated half billion dollars of private investments within and surrounding the downtown.

The City continues to implement its visions with the conversion of Main Street back to two way, which is set to be completed by the end of summer 2019.  These improvements will include new streetscape to go along with opening of several mixed-use projects on Main Street.

“The ideas that were set forth at the Summit by the City and the developers will help shape the future for the City,” Reiner stated.

Projects like Heritage Capitals conversion of the former Bank of America Building, Russo Developments redevelopment of the former Record Site, HornRock/Russo’s redevelopment of Lot C adjacent to Foschini Park, as well as Claremont Companiesand Waypoint Residentials projects on Main Street represent the next group of developments that are under construction to offer downtown living within the City.


Six Factors to Consider When Making Healthcare Build/Retrofit Decisions

Six Factors to Consider When Making Healthcare Build/Retrofit Decisions 960 540 DMR Architects

Finance leaders in the healthcare sector should be aware that the actual budget for adding to an existing building can far exceed the contractor’s bid once additional costs are added.

By Lloyd A. Rosenberg, AIA

Many hospital administrators find themselves contemplating if they should build on campus or retrofit or move physicians into new spaces in response to the many changes in healthcare today, including hospital mergers and expansions, technology implementations, value-based care, and changing patient demographics and needs.

That decision involves many factors, from obvious issues such as cost to more obscure considerations such as hospitals’ and health systems’ reach in their communities. Here are six areas hospital leaders should consider when deciding how to expand their facilities.


The architect should provide examples of costs for similar facilities so that hospital leaders can consider all costs, not just the price per square foot for construction.

The actual budget for adding to an existing building can far exceed the contractor’s bid once additional costs are added, including permits, new heating and cooling systems to accommodate the extra space, and other costs associated with construction. Hospital leaders should talk with all the experts—the contractor, architect, electrician, lawyer—to determine what other costs are involved and what items might not be part of the bid.

The architect may not be able to provide a standard check list, because every project comes with its own unique challenges, but hospital leaders should expect that the assigned team of architects has experience on similar projects.


Many hospitals are feeling the need to compete for patients throughout the state, making reach into other counties a necessity. For example, Hunterdon Healthcare’s main hospital is in Flemington, N.J., Hunterdon County, but hospital leaders were interested in expanding the health system’s services into neighboring Somerset County. They recently opened a renovated 55,000 square foot, three-story building that provides the services of Hunterdon Cardiovascular Associates, Hunterdon Heart and Vascular Center of Bridgewater, Hunterdon Urological Associates, Hunterdon Healthcare Center for Endocrine Health, and Hunterdon Healthcare Physical and Occupational Therapy.  The result is convenience for current and new patients who live in Somerset County needing services and treatments closer to home.


With many procedures that once required overnight stays now being done on an outpatient basis, some hospitals have surplus space that can be repurposed.

One example is St. Peters Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J., which recently refurbished its dialysis lab into admissions, financial advising, and phlebotomy. The relocation and consolidation of these three departments next to the main lobby offers convenience for patients because they typically access those services at the beginning of their hospital stay. In addition, the change allowed for more space and patient privacy, adding to patient satisfaction.

Similarly, new technologies often take up less space, giving hospitals room to reorganize. Even the equipment that was designed around a few years ago has become obsolete. For example, after 15 years, Robert Wood Johnson Health System redesigned a project to accommodate newer, updated technologies.

Interconnectivity of Practices

New construction or retrofit decisions should also include consideration of which practices and administrative services should be together, and which might function more effectively away from the rest of the main building. Placing administrative staff who work directly with patients in the same building as the practices they serve offer convenience and efficiency to patients and staff.

Similarly, providing space for complementary practices, such as housing physical therapy and neurology staff with orthopedists in the same facility, makes it easier for patients to get to their appointments and for physicians to work together to handle patients’ health needs holistically.

Robert Wood Johnson recently redesigned the 3,500 square foot first floor of its Somerset Street medical office building in New Brunswick, N.J., in order to better serve patients by relocating the obstetrics/gynecology and orthopedics offices from the main hospital. Since these services are done on an out-patient basis only, giving them their own space removed the need for patients to find parking and walk through the main building for short visits.  The new facility will include a reception and waiting area for patients, five exam rooms, an X-ray room, and physicians’ and staff offices.

Relationship with Community

Because of increasing life spans, more people are in need of geriatric care, bringing medical practitioners and caretakers out of the hospital and office environment and into the communities. Off-campus space can play an important role in a hospital’s commitment to continue to be part of the healthcare team for this demographic.

These spaces are often off-site and can be in different counties and regions, adding new buildings and staff to the budget.

Transportation and Parking

Once a hospital decides that it is time to expand off-campus, location, as with any real estate decision, is the most important feature of a building. The architect and planner are great resources to help hospital leaders find a location that patients — current and new — can get to easily, either on their own or via public transportation.

This article originally appeared in the Healthcare Financial Management Association Strategic Financial Planning newsletter.