News

Transformational Two-Acre Municipal Park Planned for Woodcliff Lake

Transformational Two-Acre Municipal Park Planned for Woodcliff Lake 150 150 DMR Architects

A $500,000 grant from Bergen County and two anonymous donations totaling $1 million – $750,000 from a private person and $250,000 from a local corporation – have given a strong start to the construction of a park in Woodcliff Lake that is unlike any in New Jersey and will transform how residents interact with its downtown.

Previously home to the Galaxy Gardens Nursery, the municipality acquired the site at the intersection of Werimus Road and Woodcliff Lake Avenue in 2018. By connecting the two-acre parcel to the Westervelt-Lydecker House and the municipal pool and athletic fields, DMR’s designs for the site creates a recreation, cultural and civic corridor featuring a passive great lawn, water feature, dog park, picnic areas, pergolas for shaded seating, a playground, as well as an amphitheater with a stage for concerts and other public venues.  Other elements of the municipal park include walking paths with an approximately quarter mile loop, lighting, and landscaping.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity to provide our residents with a central gathering place in our Borough,” said Mayor Carlos Rendo.  “Woodcliff Lake’s history, athletics, entertainment, and outdoor living will all come together in one place, creating a community asset that will be unique to our extraordinary community.”

“We only get to do this once, and by patiently reviewing a wide array of concepts and then meticulously planning this use, we’ve arrived at something we can all be proud of – and something that already has drawn spectacular support from the private sector. The construction of this park will provide an integrated home to the resources and activities in Woodcliff Lake that not only will serve and delight our residents but become a focal point for the arts and sports communities in Bergen County,” said Council President Jacqueline Gadaleta.

“Meaningful and vibrant outdoor spaces like this one are essential to residents’ health and quality of life and will have a positive impact on the community for generations,” said Francis
Reiner, PP, LLA, Director of Planning & Redevelopment, Partner for DMR Architects. “DMR has a long history of designing green spaces that have profoundly transformed the surrounding
neighborhoods and how they are used. The design of this park is one of the more unique opportunities we have been involved with and we are excited to be part of such an important project with the Borough and its residents.”

“We want to congratulate Woodcliff Lake on creating a productive collaboration with a broad array of constituencies and stakeholders to arrive at this wonderful plan,” says County Executive James Tedesco. “Woodcliff Lake has found impassioned and motivated partners, including Bergen County for a project that will be a benefit to everyone.”

The borough continues to seek corporate and foundation donors for the $3.7 million project and is offering individual and family sponsorship opportunities that will be commemorated in the park.  Woodcliff Lake collects between $210K and $225K per year through its open space tax which will go toward paying off any potential bond for the project.

Montgomery Township Celebrates Ribbon Cutting on New DMR-Designed Municipal Center & Library 

Montgomery Township Celebrates Ribbon Cutting on New DMR-Designed Municipal Center & Library  789 444 DMR Architects

DMR joined Montgomery Mayor Devra Keenan, local and county officials to open the new DMR Architects-designed Montgomery Municipal Center on June 16.

DMR designed the 62,500 square foot building through a collaborative approach that included the input of more than 200 local residents.  The result is a contemporary style that connects the building to its natural surroundings through the use of similar wood materials, glass walls, stone flooring, and zinc cladding on the façade.

It will be the new home for municipal offices, the police department, council chambers and an additional branch of the Somerset County Library System, and also includes gallery space for displaying community artwork and items of historical and cultural importance.

“The new municipal center has been designed to serve as a community gathering place, something that our community has long sought, and which has proven even more essential after two years of the pandemic,” said Montgomery Mayor Devra Keenan.

“Its rare that we get to work with residents in addition to both county and municipal leaders on a project, but the spirit of collaboration was strong at all levels and the final product is something we are all proud of and that will be used for many generations,” said Pradeep Kapoor, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Chief Operating Officer for DMR Architects.

Downtown New Jersey Recognizes Achievements in Downtown Economic Development

Downtown New Jersey Recognizes Achievements in Downtown Economic Development 1644 925 DMR Architects

Downtown New Jersey announced the winners of their Excellence Awards, which recognizes projects, programs and individuals for their impact on downtown economic development. This year, two friends and clients of DMR will be among the honorees, including:

Mayor John P. Labrosse, Jr., City of Hackensack

Individual of Excellence – Public Official

Since 2011, the City of Hackensack has undergone a tremendous renaissance, illustrated by more than $1 billion in private investment, 4,000 new residential units, with another 2,000 on the boards, and many sophisticated infrastructure, outdoor space, zoning, funding, and connectivity efforts. This level of success would not have been possible without the clear vision and dedication of Hackensack Mayor John Labrosse. During his nearly ten-year tenure as mayor, John Labrosse has demonstrated a tremendous commitment to the redevelopment of downtown Hackensack. Elected to the Hackensack city council in 2009 and becoming mayor in 2013 when the city’s redevelopment efforts were in its infancy, Mayor Labrosse has remained the City’s elected leader through its most significant stages of redevelopment.

“The remarkable redevelopment success in Hackensack would simply not have been possible without the clear vision and commitment of the city’s municipal team, led by Mayor John Labrosse,” said Francis Reiner, PP, LLA, Director of Redevelopment and Partner for DMR Architects, the city’s downtown redevelopment consultant. “All you have to do is look around Main Street: the rising buildings, attractive streets, art, culture and overall vitality are all due to his unparalleled dedication.”

Borough of Dunellen Pop-Up Park

Honorable Mention for Excellence in Placemaking

In the summer of 2021, the Borough of Dunellen implemented the first of several community revitalization and placemaking efforts of the mile-square borough – a pop-up park located along the main commercial corridor of North Avenue. Reflecting the importance of public space and placemaking initiatives, the low-cost, high-impact project brought to life an under-utilized parking lot in the heart of the downtown. Located near businesses, the train station, and Borough Hall, the temporary place provided space for residents and visitors to sit, relax, engage with their community and take part in special programming, such as yoga classes, musical performances, Coffee with a Cop, and programming in support of the arts, the library and local businesses. Through community support and corporate sponsors, the Dunellen Pop-Up Park engaged hundreds of residents and visitors and more than 15 local businesses and organizations.

“Through the pop-up park, hundreds of residents and visitors who may not have otherwise spent time downtown last summer were able to connect with neighbors, businesses, and organizations; and most importantly, experience the great downtown atmosphere of Dunellen. The project was made that much more special because of the heart of Dunellen, our community of volunteers, who brought this project to life,” said Mayor Jason Cilento.

For more information on the other award winners or the May 24 award ceremony, please visit the Downtown New Jersey website.

Schools Turn to DMR To Redesign Entryways to Address Identity and Security

Schools Turn to DMR To Redesign Entryways to Address Identity and Security 789 444 DMR Architects

Education boards in Carteret and Hackensack have recently turned to DMR to help solve the equation of how to make school front entryways more secure for students while still being a welcoming focal point for those visiting the building.

Hackensack High School is a 260,000 square foot facility that was previously using a nondescript walkway to a security door as its main entrance, while signage down the street misdirected people to the school’s annex.

“They needed something that said, ‘Here I am,’ and is a point of pride for students, parents, teachers and administrators,” said Donna Coen O’Gorman, AIA.  “When we create a new front entrance, we are giving a school and the neighborhood an identity, welcoming people into the building, improving safety and foot traffic patterns, and providing a preamble for what to expect inside the facility.”

The rewards of building esteem in the school community from visual impact are only the secondary benefit:  in a day when security threats are an unfortunate pre-occupation with administrators, the challenge of protecting teachers and students is a critical focus.

Plans for the new entrance on Beech Street include an 1,100 square foot portico, with backlit aluminum letters atop, new landscaping and an ADA accessible drop off.  The entrance will be ready for the 2022-23 school year and also includes bullet resistant glazing, closed circuit televisions, key card access, a secured vestibule and security lighting that have been seamlessly integrated into the overall design.

“It’s a mistake for school boards to assume that a building entrance upgrade is just modernizing doors and windows,” said Lloyd A. Rosenberg, AIA.  “It’s about aesthetics, security, and how buildings function in service to students, staff, and visitors, which requires experienced architects to make programming and design choices.”

Work on Carteret’s new state-of-the-art Junior High School started long before construction workers broke ground when DMR Architects created a design plan that integrated the already-existing High School on the same property through a pedestrian bridge connected to the new, 60,000 square foot school. With the new Junior High School opening this fall, exterior upgrades were also designed at the high school to distinguish its identity and increase security.

Also in Carteret, an exterior renovation to the Columbus Elementary School required identifying a new location for the main entrance and several programming changes, including moving the main office and creating a main entrance lobby.

“In the case of Carteret’s Columbus Elementary School, the main entrance needed to be located at a prominent location but also to a space where it would function more efficiently,” continues Donna Coen O’Gorman.  “We created a portico addition that would make a visual impact but also support the school’s programming.”

The entrance design will include controlled and secure access, a security office, bullet resistant glazing and bollards and will now be located next to the cafeteria, streamlining drop-off and pickup of early- and late-entrance and eliminating the need for visitors to walk through the school.

AIA NJ Highlights Two DMR Leaders in Women In Architecture Showcase

AIA NJ Highlights Two DMR Leaders in Women In Architecture Showcase 2000 1125 DMR Architects

Thanks to AIA NJ for honoring two of our women leaders and AIA members this month as part of their Women in Architecture Month highlight. These posts originally appeared on the AIA NJ blog. Please click here for Donna Coen O’Gorman and here for Janet Pini.

Donna Coen O’Gorman, AIA, Delivers Educational Design Excellence With Experience As A Client And An Architect

Donna Coen O’Gorman graduated from NJIT with a Bachelor of Architecture in 1981, when less than 8% of the School of Architecture’s graduating class were women.

Her career trajectory soon led her to educational work, a sector she has dedicated her professional life to for more than 25 years. She has been employed by the Newark Public Schools, Rutgers University, Kean University and the New Jersey Schools Development Authority.

In 2015, she retired from public service and joined DMR Architects. As a senior project manager, she brings the unique perspective of the client, as she spent the previous 25 years of her career working for the clients the DMR team services. Today her vision is mostly focused on educating her clients on how to support today’s learners in advanced, sophisticated and effective learning environments, while also helping to implement these projects in a cost-effective way.

During her six years at DMR, in addition to managing hundreds of projects, she organically expanded her role to client advocacy, business development and understanding evolving educational programming needs. Through a commitment to continuing education, conference involvement and thought leadership, she is a published author and a frequent lecturer on topics such as school security, new project delivery methods, and design trends. Her enthusiasm and skill earned her the position of DMR’s educational sector’s first Director of Business Development in 2021.

A licensed architect, Donna is also an empowering advocate for professional licensure, having achieved her professional registration when the percentage of women starting the licensure process hovered around 10% of all applicants, with even less completing the process, as reported by The National Council of Architectural Registration Board.

Consistency and Strong Relationships Push Janet Pini, AIA, To The Top

In 2002, shortly after graduating from NJIT with a Bachelor of Architecture degree, Janet Pini joined the production department at DMR Architects. Now a senior project manager and associate of the firm, she rose through the ranks of DMR, advancing from a graduate architect to her current role as one of DMR’s most senior project managers and the first woman member of DMR’s management team.

Having spent her entire career at DMR, Janet distinguished herself at every level of the firm, consistently taking on new responsibilities, mastering her understanding and ability to communicate complex codes and procedures, and forming meaningful and lasting relationships with clients, some of which have worked with her consistently for more than 10 years.

In every role, Janet has been assigned to some of DMR’s most complex projects, helping to bring to life projects such as a new 350,000 SF educational campus, four new college academic buildings, a specialty emergency operations center, sophisticated healthcare environments and more than 300 architect of record projects for DMR’s preK-12 clients.

Now a licensed architect, today Janet leads entire project teams, in addition to management responsibilities as an associate of the firm. Drawing on her own path of growth at DMR, Janet has committed herself to staff development and mentorship, leading efforts at DMR to engage DMR’s multi-generational workforce, counsel early-career architects, communicate and emulate DMR’s values to new staff, and provide professional guidance and learning opportunities.

Ceremony at Iconic bergenPAC Celebrates Construction Start of DMR-Designed Upgrades

Ceremony at Iconic bergenPAC Celebrates Construction Start of DMR-Designed Upgrades 789 444 DMR Architects

The ceremony also marked the start of a $5 million capital campaign to fund future improvements

DMR joined bergenPAC’s Founder Frank Huttle, III, board members, Congressman Josh Gottheimer and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Darlene Love earlier today to celebrate the groundbreaking and $5 million capital campaign to transform the beloved and historic theater into a modern backdrop for the 200 yearly world-class concerts, comedy events, and dance performances that perform there.

Construction on the first phase of the $15 million renovation project has already begun on areas that were designed by DMR to appeal to bergenPAC’s eclectic audience.  The lobby, concessions/bar area, and a new VIP section with its own entrance will boast a hip vibe through the use of raw industrial design elements—bare beams, exposed brick, pendant light fixtures and visible ductwork—juxtaposed to the refined traditional décor expected in a theater setting. The 1,367-seat theater opened in 1926 as a vaudeville and movie theater and is one of the few such buildings still operating in the United States as an entertainment venue.

“The redesign of bergenPAC represents an investment in the incredibly talented local theater and arts community members as well as a catalyst for Englewood’s long-term economic stability,” said Pradeep Kapoor, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Chief Operating Officer.  “We’re excited to apply the knowledge we’ve acquired through our work on previous performing arts centers to guide bergenPAC through the redevelopment, design and construction processes that come together to fulfill the modernization of the traditional night at the theater experience.”

At the event, bergenPAC announced that they’ve successfully raised $10 million; $4 million from donors during their silent phase and a $6 million fund from the County of Bergen. bergenPAC hopes to raise an additional $5 million during their public fundraising phase. This campaign will fund additional enhancements to the theater venue as well as its Performing Arts School that boasts alumni including feature film and Broadway actors.

Pictured above at the March 15 ceremony are Mauro Raguseo, Bergen County Improvement Authority; Assemblywoman Ellen Park; Bergen County Commissioner Mary Amoroso; Lloyd Rosenberg, DMR Architects; Valerie Vainieri Huttle, former assemblywoman; Ray Reduce, Ray Reduce Development; Congressman Josh Gottheimer; Darlene Love, Grammy Award winner; Robert Cook, bergenPAC chairman of the Board of Trustees; Frank Huttle, III, bergenPAC founder; Vince Ermitas, student performer, presently Simba in Disney’s Lion King on Broadway; City of Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes; Bergen County Executive James Tedesco, and Dominic Roncace, President and CEO of bergenPAC.

Here’s What’s Coming in 2022

Here’s What’s Coming in 2022 789 444 DMR Architects

DMR will deliver more than $500 million in public and educational facilities this year, providing a window into a robust development cycle that is largely fueled by public sector work.

School renewal is an on-going challenge as facilities and districts contract and expand, but perhaps the most telling insights come from the expanse of challenges facing communities as they evolve and variety of redevelopment solutions that are being deployed to resolve them.

“While there are many notable downtown redevelopment stories, we are just at the beginning of a cycle that will re-create the way New Jersey lives and works,” says Lloyd A. Rosenberg, AIA, President & CEO.  “Hundreds of municipalities are awakening to the need to update infrastructure, grow their tax base, or otherwise address activating their downtowns, and the pace of new programs will only continue to grow.”

Among the projects coming this year are:

 MUNICIPAL FACILITIES

When the Montgomery Municipal Center opens this spring, it will be a physical representation of the Township’s rich history and the result of a planning process that included the input from more than 200 residents and Montgomery Township and Somerset County Improvement Authority officials.

DMR’s planning and design teams knew that its representation of Montgomery’s identity was equally as important as the functionality of the 62,500 SF facility as the new home for municipal offices, the police department and council chambers and library.

“It is refreshing to work with a group of elected and civic leaders who take such pride in their community, and we’ve enjoyed creatively interpreting their functional and aesthetic needs,” said Pradeep Kapoor, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Chief Operating Officer and Partner. “Being able to work with so many of the project’s end users made presenting the final product particularly rewarding.”

Following a feasibility study to assist the Borough of Ridgefield in site selection DMR designed a 27,000 SF municipal complex to accommodate the municipal court, council chambers, police department and borough offices. When the facility opens this spring, the new building, located in the Shaler Boulevard commercial zone, will facilitate economic development and provide proximity to the community center, as well as provide a safe facility to municipal operations, once housed in an aging facility that was often forced to close.

“Ridgefield’s governing body has long recognized that it made economic sense to develop and construct a new municipal complex rather than continuing to put tax payer money into a facility that has outlived its useful life,” said Charles H. Sarlo, General Counsel and Partner.  “Our diversified expertise allows DMR to formulate targeted delivery methodologies that meet the goals and objectives of our clients.”

 EDUCATION

This September, Carteret teachers and students will move into the new Carteret Junior High School, the first new educational facility in the municipality in 40 years, the result of a successful $37 million referendum. The new school will accommodate approximately 600 seventh and eighth grade students and alleviate overcrowding through reassignment and realignment students in grades K-12.

The 60,000 square foot school will be arranged in a departmentalized environment, with 24 classrooms, enhanced art and music education spaces, a think tank and a STEM lab.

“We’re working with municipalities that recognize upgrades to facilities that improve quality of life for its current residents is a critical first step to placemaking initiatives designed to attract new residents, visitors and economic opportunities,” said Kurt Vierheilig, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Director of Design and Partner.  “We anticipate seeing more and more municipalities reviewing their administrative, law enforcement and educational needs to ensure that they can serve the people that choose to live there with the most forward-thinking options while still remembering the importance of meaningful gathering spaces.”

DMR Names Pradeep Kapoor Its First COO and Promotes Five Others; Continues Recruiting to Address Rapid Growth

DMR Names Pradeep Kapoor Its First COO and Promotes Five Others; Continues Recruiting to Address Rapid Growth 2000 1125 DMR Architects

DMR has named Pradeep Kapoor, AIA, LEED AP BD+C its new Chief Operating Officer and promoted five others in response to the firm’s continued growth and expansion into new practice areas, which includes doubling its staff to more than 40 over the past five years.

“Supporting the scope and volume of our new projects and absorbing and directing new staff members is made all the more complex by the layers of practice areas and services we have added in recent years,” said Lloyd Rosenberg, President & CEO.  “Pradeep has been managing the firm’s operations and I am pleased to be able to recognize his success at this role by naming him DMR’s first Chief Operating Officer.”

Pradeep’s 21-year tenure at DMR has included several roles through which he has managed many of the firm’s most complex design and construction projects, primarily focusing on the municipal, healthcare, and education practices.  In 2017 he was named a partner in the firm while serving as Director of Sustainability.  A passionate sustainable designer, he was among the first architects in New Jersey to achieve LEED accreditation, and helped build DMR’s esteemed sustainable design program, which today includes certified, silver and gold level projects, notably the Frank J. Gargiulo Campus for the Hudson County Schools of Technology, a LEED Gold recipient, and the Carlstadt Elementary School, the first LEED Silver public school in New Jersey.

While still managing day to day responsibilities for significant firm projects, as Chief Operating Officer, Pradeep provides managerial support for all ongoing projects, offering guidance on contracts, project management, budget, schedule adherence and staff development.

“It has been a privilege to take on a leadership role during a time when the firm has literally created a new practice format that bridges traditional architecture with planning, design, construction management and other services that provides clients with exceptional skill, efficiency and value,” he said. “As we lift the standards for architects, we have been able to lift the careers of our people.  I am a prime example of DMR’s culture of nurturing staff, fostering professional achievement, and recognizing talent and hard work, and I am proud to recognize five other staff members whose achievements also warrant promotions.”

DMR’s other recent promotions include five new positions for existing staff with tenures that range from 2 to 27 years.

Maria Perez, Director of Human Resources

Maria Perez has managed DMR’s office and staff since 1994, guiding the firm’s organizational development, creating a diverse staff and performance management structure, as well as managing benefits, compensation and training. She implemented a streamlined onboarding process to facilitate DMR’s growth from 10 to a team of more than 40 including continued rapid staff growth year over year since 2016.  She’s also coordinated communication throughout the pandemic which continues to be instrumental in keeping clients informed and projects on schedule.

Donna Coen O’Gorman, Director of Business Development – Education 

A registered architect whose 35-year career included roles at clients of DMR, Donna Coen O’Gorman has dedicated her entire professional life to the education sector, bringing the unique perspective of the customer to her managerial role.  Through a commitment to continuing education, conference involvement and thought leadership, her project management work in the educational sector has naturally expanded to client advocacy, business development and thought leadership, having been published and a frequent lecturer on topics such as school security, new project delivery methods, and design trends.

Megan Apostol, Director of Marketing

During her decade at DMR, Megan Apostol has raised DMR Architects’ reputation through publicity initiatives, print and digital communications, and marketing initiatives highlighting its talented team and diverse practice capabilities.   She is responsible for securing architectural and real estate industry awards for DMR including NJBiz Best Places to Work, and prestigious awards for team members including the ICON award and inclusion in influencer lists in ROI-NJ and NJBiz.

Kevin Johnson, Project Manager

Kevin Johnson joined the DMR production staff in 2012, quickly establishing himself as an integral member of DMR’s New York City School Construction Authority (NYCSCA) team, helping complete more than 200 projects valued at $500 million over his nearly 10 years with firm.

Pierre Talisse, Project Manager

Pierre Talisse joined the DMR team in 2019, bringing with him worldwide experiences ranging from a 550,000 SF development in India to capital improvements across New Jersey preK-12 school districts. At DMR, he fit perfectly into its educational design team, supporting capital improvement projects for many of DMR’s school district clients, including Bayonne, Hackensack, Edison, and New Brunswick, as well as supporting the new construction of schools in Plainfield and Jersey City. As a project manager at DMR, he will support the education and public sectors, which currently accounts for more than $500 million of DMR’s pipeline.

DMR Dimensions – 30th Anniversary Edition

DMR Dimensions – 30th Anniversary Edition 2000 1125 DMR Architects

On July 15, 1991, a team of four opened DMR Architects. Led by Lloyd Rosenberg, AIA, the group set off first to find a client and a project, then on to building the firm as we know it today. Since then, we’ve designed thousands of projects valued at billions of dollars in construction work. We’ve worked right in our own backyard and across the world in China, Costa Rica, Nigeria and Romania. We’ve designed elementary schools, luxury lofts, downtown master plans, police stations, modern offices, and renovations to an elementary school forced to close following Superstorm Sandy. We’ve seen technology and trends come and go, but we’ve always maintained our commitment to inspire through functional and aesthetically pleasing design. In our anniversary issue of DMR Dimensions, we recap the latest DMR news, and also look back on many of our most significant professional milestones and projects over the years.

Hanover’s River Park Town Center to Transform 88 Acres into Municipality’s First Walkable Downtown District

Hanover’s River Park Town Center to Transform 88 Acres into Municipality’s First Walkable Downtown District 789 444 DMR Architects

Construction has begun on the first phase to transform 88 acres in the Whippany area of Hanover Township into the DMR Architects-designed River Park Town Center, a downtown destination featuring 967 residential units, 80,000 SF of retail, two 125-room extended stay hotels, an outdoor amphitheater, and the completion of the Patriot Trail along the Whippany River. The first phase includes the construction of building one of eleven, and will offer 81 residential units, a pool, a fitness center and community amenities.

DMR’s plans for the first town center in Hanover Township’s 220+ year history will completely transform the way that people and businesses interface with the area that is currently largely populated by corporate office campuses.

“The creative challenge in Hanover was to design something that served a lot of functions that are completely new here while still preserving the community character and existing physical and natural landscaping,” said Francis Reiner, Redevelopment Consultant and Partner for DMR Architects.  “This is a great example of pro-active municipal planning and placemaking and the successful collaboration of a municipality, developer, planners and architects. This project will promote smart growth with elements that will appeal to residents, shoppers, employers and their staffs.”

When completed, River Park Town Center will also feature more than 20 acres of public recreation space including an amphitheater and park, generous convocation areas for community engagement, and deck, curbside and surface lot parking options. More than 40% of the land will be left in its natural state.