News

High Tech High School

The $150M Frank J. Gargiulo Campus Opens

The $150M Frank J. Gargiulo Campus Opens 789 444 DMR Architects

The Frank J. Gargiulo Campus, described as the “gem of high schools in Hudson County,” is open.

Following an aggressive design and construction schedule of less than 2 1/2 years, last week marked the first full week of school on the 20-acre campus in Secaucus, home to High Tech High School, KAS Prep and Hudson Technical.

The new, $150 million facility educates nearly 2,000 students in more than 70 leading-edge classrooms and specialty spaces. The Hudson County Improvement Authority (HCIA) managed the design and construction process for Hudson County Schools of Technology (HCST) through a team of numerous professionals, which along with DMR Architects, included RSC Architects as bridging architect, MAST Construction Services as owner’s representative and construction manager and Terminal Construction Corporation as general contractor.

The 350,000-square-foot county vocational magnet school combines technically-focused, hands-on learning with a challenging academic curriculum.

“The Frank J. Gargiulo Campus will quickly become the gold standard for technical high schools across the country. Our design team, working collaboratively with our educators, have created something truly revolutionary. I know that it will serve our students and staff with the resources to drive learning to the next level,” says Amy Lin-Rodriguez, acting superintendent of HCST.

Among many advanced features, the new campus includes a fabrication lab, a black box theater, a performing arts auditorium, 80-inch interactive monitors in classrooms, and a TV production studio with a functioning control room. Outdoor features include a hydroponic rooftop garden where students will grow food to be used in the culinary kitchen lab.

This school was designed to meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’s (LEED) rigorous gold standards and requirements for sustainability. Features like water efficient landscaping, geothermal heating, green roof and wind turbines were implemented to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases and wastewater emitted from the campus.

The new campus was dedicated to the former superintendent of HCST, Frank J. Gargiulo, during a ceremony on September 7.

“I am humbled by the decision to dedicate this campus in my name,” says Frank J. Gargiulo, former superintendent of HCST. “These students are among the brightest in the country and deserve a quality space to study and prepare themselves academically for the future.”

 

East Brunswick Route 18 Redevelopment

East Brunswick Route 18 Redevelopment Moves Forward

East Brunswick Route 18 Redevelopment Moves Forward 789 444 DMR Architects

The redevelopment of one of New Jersey’s busiest commercial corridors, Route 18 in East Brunswick, is underway, with the latest step forward coming in the form of two RFPs to developers.

Last summer, the East Brunswick Redevelopment Agency retained DMR to develop several redevelopment plans on numerous tracts of land within the Township.

On one of those tracts, 88 acres that includes the Route 18 shopping center and Loehmanns Plaza, DMR developed a redevelopment plan that will bring these lots, all currently under performing or vacant, to life. Despite traffic of more 100,000 cars daily, Route 18 has one of the highest vacancy rates in the State, a challenge that the Township needed to address among other issues including a lack of a downtown center, a growing suburban population and a high volume of commuters who travel to the Township on their way to New York City.

As part of this effort, DMR developed multiple concept plans which called for a town center, including 95,000 SF of retail, 700 units of residential, 62,000 SF of office space, and a parking structure. The plan also includes a hotel, a boulevard and open space.

The RFPs to developers, released last week, are an important step toward implementing needed change.

“We are so excited to welcome a developer to our dedicated team of professionals who are pushing forward our 2020 Vision,” Mayor Brad Cohen said, “Located at the center of the State and close to Rutgers, every major highway and the shore, we are hopeful this project will attract significant interest from the development community.

Hunterdon Ambulatory Surgery Center

Hunterdon Healthcare Opens Ambulatory Surgery Center

Hunterdon Healthcare Opens Ambulatory Surgery Center 789 444 DMR Architects

On June 14 DMR joined Hunterdon Healthcare for the ribbon cutting of the new Ambulatory Surgery Center at the healthcare system’s Bridgewater facility, the second phase of a project that transformed a former Bank of America building into medical office space.

“While healthcare system expansion is now becoming the norm, Hunterdon Healthcare was ahead of the curve, recognizing and responding to changing residential patterns years ago,” Lloyd A.  Rosenberg, AIA. “New Jersey residents are moving farther out from urban and suburban areas where a high quality of life is more affordable, and businesses of all kinds are smart to expand or move close to potential customers, or in this case, patients.”

“Patients shop around for healthcare the same way they do for other products and services,” he added. “We’re reimagining spaces to support Hunterdon Healthcare’s goal to provide personalized care in easily accessible office spaces.”

This project is DMR’s latest in a thriving portfolio for the rapidly-expanding Hunterdon Healthcare system, a portfolio which also includes the imaging center, a third phase, at the Bridgewater facility; two phases that brought pediatrics, podiatry, behavioral health and other specialties to the system’s facility in Hawk Pointe; and a family practice to the system’s Hickory Run Medical Office Building in Califon. DMR also previously completed the Maternity and Newborn Care Unit at the Flemington facility.

Hackensack PAC Historic Preservation Award

Hackensack PAC Honored with Historic Preservation Award

Hackensack PAC Honored with Historic Preservation Award 789 444 DMR Architects

On May 10 the DMR Architects-designed Hackensack Performing Arts Center received the 2018 Bergen County Historic Preservation Award for the adaptive reuse of the former Masonic Temple at 102 State Street. Bergen County Executive James Tedesco III and the Board of Chosen Freeholders presented the award to the City of Hackensack during the program.

The purchase and rehabilitation of the Masonic Temple was one of the first projects that the City of Hackensack embarked on after adopting its Downtown Rehabilitation Plan in 2012.

“The repurpose of the Masonic Temple into the Hackensack Performing Arts Center was a watershed moment that resulted in attracting dozens of real estate developers to invest in Hackensack’s revival,” Mayor John Labrosse said. “Since then, DMR’s creativity and ingenuity can be seen all over Hackensack from the new traffic patterns to the new open spaces and residential communities coming online every day.”

“Hackensack continues to be the textbook case of what can be accomplished when the City, the County, and private entities work together,” said Francis Reiner, PP, LLA. “We’re proud and appreciative that The Bergen County Historic Preservation Society has recognized our collaborative work to resurrect the Masonic Temple into the center of Hackensack’s artistic renaissance.”

The project maintained the look and feel of the 140-year-old building, while bringing it up to modern safety and accessibility standards, which included reinforcing its below-ground footings and foundation to accommodate the shift from its original use as a meeting hall on its first floor, to its new use as a 224-seat theater space and stage on its second floor. It also included a new gallery space on the first floor that shows work from local and regional artists as well as new bathrooms, heating and cooling systems, sprinkler systems, ramps, and an elevator.

Past (and future) glory: In real estate, older can be better

Past (and future) glory: In real estate, older can be better 789 444 DMR Architects

by Martin Daks

When folks move into Annin Lofts, a 52-unit edifice at 163 Bloomfield Ave. in Verona, the apartments will have that just-built scent, but the building—an Annin Flag factory for 94 years—is anything but new.

Russo Development and Dinallo Construction Corp. took the nearly century-old structure and updated it for residential use, with move-ins to start this year.

The project is part of a well-established trend: Some 43,000 historic rehabs were completed in the past 40 years, with New Jersey projects representing a $500 million slice of the $90 billion in project outlays, according to a study by Rutgers Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.

“We were attracted by the potential of the Annin structure,” said Ed Russo, CEO of Russo Development and a member of the joint venture D&R Verona. “When you’re away from the waterfront urban areas, you don’t see many 100-year-old, high-ceiling, concrete buildings. The opportunity of constructing loft-style units in a suburban area made it stand out, and the town was in favor of it.”

When developers rehabilitate an older structure like the former Annin factory, some apply to the National Park Service for an official historic certification and related federal tax credits. Russo and his joint venture partners decided against that.

“We considered that option, but an outside consultant advised against it,” Russo said. “He said it could be done, but it would be more complicated.”

Even without the official designation, the lure of the building was its historic character—and staying true to it meant the project would be challenging in any event

“Even though we gutted the interior, we still had to run electrical lines and mechanical and other distribution systems through concrete floors, which required more than 600 cuts,” Russo said. “It’s not just a matter of cutting through concrete, because preserving the original design meant that in some cases we couldn’t cut through existing floors, and had to reconfigure and coordinate the apartment layouts.”

There were other issues, like remaining true to the window designs. Factories built in the early 1900s tended to have extra-large windows, 20 feet or longer to let in a lot of natural light; they were replaced with energy-efficient ones.

“We had to design the apartment units to work within the confine of the existing windows,” said Kurt Vierheilig, senior project manager, partner and director of design for DMR Architects, which designed the repurposed structure and a new, matching 60-unit building adjacent to it.

“We were able to keep the feel of the older, larger windows,” Vierheilig said. “If this project had been certified as a historical one, we probably would have had to go even further, like matching the thickness of the original [glass partitions].”

Such painstaking planning adds time and costs to the construction process, but it’s all part of building a desirable property, Russo said.

“Of course, it’s got to be in an area that will support the rent, but a historic building is unique and attracts people across demographics,” he said. “Usually the demand for loft-style construction comes from younger people, but here we’re seeing demand from residents who are downsizing but want stay in Verona. There’s not a lot of new product being built here, and Annin Lofts stands out.”

A rich tapestry of history and a high foot traffic were the attractions for Paramount Assets in acquiring Ironbound Plaza in Newark, a triangular-shaped, limestone-clad building at 2 Ferry St.

The property started life around 1905 as a bank and later was converted for medical use. After a redesign, it houses a Blink Fitness—the fitness chain’s first Newark location, opening April 27—and a soon-to-open 7-Eleven convenience store.

“Municipalities like to preserve a city’s character,” said Richard Dunn, senior vice president of Paramount Assets. “Knowing Newark and the history of the Ironbound section was a key to preserving the façade of the structure while returning retail to the area.”

Adjacent to Newark Penn Station, an estimated 30,000 people a day pass by the building.

Paramount Assets wanted to preserve the exterior to maintain the building’s history, “but inside people still want modern facilities,” said Dunn. “The challenge was the greatest on the outside, where any repair and maintenance have to match the era’s look.

“Fortunately, Paramount Assets has done a lot of this kind of adaptive reuse, including Newark properties like Halston Flats at 127 Halsey St., where we engaged in an eco-friendly restoration of a historic industrial building constructed at the turn of the 20th century on the banks of the former Morris Canal. That development now includes 16 luxury apartments and 4,000 square feet of street-level retail.”

Said Blink Vice President of Real Estate Bill Miller: “We recognize that the Ironbound Plaza is a historically significant property. We’re looking forward to preserving the space’s history while also providing a service to the local community.”

Some historic properties are converted from private use to a public one.

Hackensack Performing Arts Center at 102 State St. was part of a strategic plan to revitalize the downtown district into a mixed use, pedestrian-friendly area. The city of Hackensack purchased the 140-year-old old Masonic Temple with the goal of rehabilitating it as cultural and performing arts center.

“The building was constructed as a kind of assembly hall more than century ago, when most of the people would be on the ground floor,” said Francis Reiner, a partner and senior project manager with DMR Architects. “Repurposing the former Masonic building as a theater meant opening up and reinforcing below-ground footings and foundations so they could bear the load of crowds on the second floor.”

The firm’s projects have included the HACPAC and the ongoing rehabilitation of a train station in Bloomfield listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The HACPAC’s 224-seat theater space has a second-floor stage with access to first-floor dressing rooms through spiral staircases. While maintaining the look and feel of the building, Reiner and his team had to bring it up to modern safety and accessibility standards with new bathrooms, heating and cooling systems, sprinkler systems, ramps, an elevator and other mechanical and other devices.

“It was a challenge,” he said. “But we had the support of the city and the community, and the first performance was on Nov. 11, 2017. Every weekend since then has been booked by community and regional performers and others.”

The Bloomfield train station — at Washington Street and Glenwood Avenue, across the street from a mixed-use development — has its own quirks.

Built in the early 1900s, the property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As a result, there are significant restrictions on the restoration, which is still in the planning stage.

“The materials and design for the renovation have to match the original design,” said Reiner. “Fortunately, we found the original architectural drawings, but we had to work with a historic preservation specialist to find matching materials or the best match. For example, the concrete mixture back then used shells, shale, rock and stone.”

But such challenges are worth the effort, he stressed.

“When you’re done, you have an iconic structure,” Reiner said. “They spur activity—new properties have already gone up near the Bloomfield train station—and they enhance an area’s appeal.”

This article originally appeared in NJBiz.

How DMR Architects took ‘design’ into multiple business areas

How DMR Architects took ‘design’ into multiple business areas 2000 1125 DMR Architects

In our continuing series of interviews with members of the Rutgers Center for Real Estate’s Advisory Board and Emerging Leaders Council, Kevin Riordan (KR) of the Center sat down with Lloyd Rosenberg AIA (LR), President & CEO of DMR Architects to get his insights and perspectives on the firm and its business model.

KR: Lloyd, while your company’s name includes the word ‘Architect’, your firm is actually involved in a number of various design and planning initiatives. Please give our readers an overview of how your firm evolved and the different segments of the real estate business you currently serve.

LR: Given my background as an architect, the firm started out in 1991 with that as its primary focus. However, an interesting confluence of events began to occur which caused our company to expand beyond our basic discipline of architecture. First, we recognized that our clients were not singularly focused on delivering solely built environments, but rather, we saw there were opportunities to work with our clients to build, expand and plan entire communities and environments. We were able to build on this and expand into planning. We expanded into sustainable design in a similar way. Members of our staff were some of the earliest to embrace sustainable design, which led us to designing the first LEED Silver public school in New Jersey. While I am proud that we have been able to watch trends and expand our capabilities in that way, adding talented staff has been a large part of our growth as well. I think we offer a very uniquely qualified and diversely talented staff, and that has helped us take on a very diverse set of projects.

KR: So what project comes to mind where you combined these multiple disciplines to present a turnkey solution for a client?

LR: The best example I can think of would be in the City of Hackensack, where we have supported the City from both a professional planning and architectural design perspective. The planning work and its successes have been significant in downtown Hackensack, and some of these projects have required architectural support as well. Just last month, the City cut the ribbon on the new Hackensack Cultural and Performing Arts Center. This was the final phase of a four-phase project that brought a public park and cultural arts center to the downtown. In addition to serving as the redevelopment planner, DMR designed the park and the Cultural and Performing Arts Centers.

KR: 1991 was a bad time for real estate. So tell us your thought process on starting a company in an environment where not only credit but RFP’s from building owners and developers were not piled high on your desk.

LR: Well let’s start by clarifying that 1991 was not just a bad time for real estate, the sector was in a depression. So my thought was ‘it can’t get any worse from here’ and we started the company. Something is always happening in real estate. At the time it was tenant retention; less value creation. And since we were a much smaller organization at the time, we could afford to take on some projects at breakeven levels of profitability just to establish our name. There was also a change in ownership of properties due to foreclosures, which opened up a new group of potential clients. Looking back, I don’t think we were calling a bottom to the cycle but we were pretty close to it. And to add to the previous question, the addition of the different services has allowed us to diversify our revenue over the cycles.

KR: Is it simply a diversification model that has led to DMR’s success or can you point to other factors?

LR: Experience is certainly a good factor to have continued success. But the additional capabilities of the firm have helped brand us that we can provide turnkey solutions for clients. But what I see as a source to grow our brand has been our willingness to embrace challenges that were not necessarily within our bandwidth. For example, we designed the train station for the spur link to the sports complex in the Meadowlands. Since we never did something like that before, I think it energized the staff. And that engagement has now enabled us to be the designer of the train station in Bloomfield, New Jersey.

KR: Staying with trains for a moment, what are you trying to achieve with your station design in Bloomfield?

LR: If you know this station, you know that the platforms are about 20 feet above grade. So the first issue that must be addressed is accessibility. And while people need and want accessibility, they will also want it to be convenient. The Township of Bloomfield, which owns this station, wants an aesthetic to the site. So given the significant development around the station, we have to incorporate both current structures as well as future projects. Those requirements serve DMR well since we are designing both the existing building as the environment it is in. Finally, the station has to be comfortable. This will probably not be limited to just padded benches. Again, while this type of project may have challenging aspects, it is also the type the team gets excited about.

KR: You have been in business 26 years. You started out as three employees and now have more than 40. You have expanded your lines of business as you have seen an increase in the scope of services required. So what are the challenges to your business? What is rewarding?

LR: First and foremost is retaining employees. When you are a service provider, staff longevity and experience provide prospective clients the confidence to check that box. As clients have sought solutions for projects that are both the built structure as well as its surrounding environment, it has become very important to manage the expectations of your client. As you add complexity or even more entities to work on a project, unforeseen results can occur. This is particularly acute as the clients are more informed also. Since we have become more involved in community planning, it is rewarding to see the energy and enthusiasm the staff expends on these assignments. It may be a result that someone either lives in that community or near it or knows a person who lives in it and a connection is created. Other times it is simply seeing the completion of a project knowing that one + one equals three.

KR: Lloyd, great spending time with you and providing some insight to the design and planning business.

This article originally appeared in Rutgers Center for Real Estate – Blog.

Here’s what Bayonne residents are saying about city’s Master Plan

Here’s what Bayonne residents are saying about city’s Master Plan 960 540 DMR Architects

by Corey W. McDonald

BAYONNE — Rarely does a public meeting in the City Hall’s Council Chambers go without minor squabbles, rising tensions, and even full-blown arguments.

Monday’s gathering at City Hall took on a decidedly different tone.

Several dozen residents attended an open public workshop to discuss the draft of the city’s new Master Plan and give their opinions of future development in the Peninsula City.

After a quick synopsis of the plan’s central suggestions, residents broke up into teams to discuss their opinions on the proposal, as well as specific aspects of the city. They then presented their consensus to the rest of the attendees.

A Master Plan is a legal document adopted by a municipality roughly every 10 years that provides long term goals for development, preservation, transportation, and other aspects of the city’s future.

The workshop was headed by Francis Reiner of DMR Architects, the architectural firm hired by the city to design the plan.

The 175-page document, which is available to read on the city’s website, covers practically every facet of the municipality, but the main focus of the plan is development and where it should be prioritized within the city.

Reiner, who along with his team has been working on the plan for more than a year, summarized the proposal’s suggestion to prioritize development in specific areas called “Station Area Plans” near the city’s light rail stations on Eighth, 22nd, 34th and 45th streets.

“The question is how do you encourage appropriate development (and) how do you protect the existing one- and two-family homes from development occurring right next to them,” Reiner said during the workshop.

He added: “The report really talks about focusing development into a few limited areas in Bayonne and no longer having this kind of piecemeal development… What we’re recommending is that there are clearly identified areas where development should occur in Bayonne… So the goal here is to focus development into those zones that are appropriate so that we can preserve the existing residences and neighborhoods.”

After the presentation, workshop attendees broke up into four groups to discuss the plan and to provide their own suggestions, which Reiner and his team will use for a revised draft that the city will post on its website.

Residents discussed a number of aspects of the Station Area Plans, including suggestions on the size of the development zones.

Peter Franco, a resident of the city who was speaking on behalf on one of the groups, said they wanted to reduce the targeted areas of development from one-quarter mile radii surrounding the stations to one-tenth mile radii.

Franco also suggested consolidating Broadway’s shopping district: “If you look at Chicago, they have a mile-long shopping district and they have a lot of people in Chicago; we have a three-mile long shopping district and we have (roughly) 70,000 people, so realistically its just not sustainable. Consolidating that would make sense.”

There were also suggestions regarding the plan’s proposed rubber trolley that would serve to transport pedestrians east and west from the train stations to Avenue A in order to alleviate parking congestion in the city.

“I think everybody recognized the need for the east-west connection but nobody was particularly approving (in our group) of the trolley plan in its current incarnation,” said Laura Wildes, a resident representing one of the groups.

Other groups, however, said the trolley would provide the city with an “old-fashioned” feel.

Groups were also largely in consensus that the plan’s height recommendation for new development projects—eight to 10 stories—was too high, and five to six stories was about right.

Development wasn’t the only aspect on residents’ minds: participants discussed abandoned religious sites in the city, the need for an assisted living facility for seniors, the longevity of PILOTs given to developers, etc.

But all of the groups pointed to the completion of the Hudson River Walkway and the Hackensack River Walkway, as priorities for the city.

The Hudson River Walkway—which in theory would extend from the George Washington Bridge down to First Street of Bayonne—is incomplete largely due to the old industrial sites on Bayonne’s eastern waterfront. But the Hackensack River Waterfront has potential to be completed with no interference. Resident even suggested establishing commerce on the city’s western walkway.

“What we may not get on the east side, we can certainly get on the west side and I think it would be appealing for the community to have,” Franco said.

After writing a revised draft, Reiner and DMR Architects will present it to the city’s planning board and city council to vote.

Reiner said the firm would like to have a final plan for approval by the council by the end of the summer.

This article originally appeared on NJ.com.

Bergen architectural firm seizes big opportunities, thrives on a challenge

Bergen architectural firm seizes big opportunities, thrives on a challenge 960 540 DMR Architects

by Linda Moss

Architect Lloyd Rosenberg was undaunted when plans for a nearly $1 billion commercial development in Ridgefield Park had to be dramatically reconfigured to accommodate Al and Alice, a pair of bald eagles.

“We had to redesign the whole project,” said Rosenberg, president and chief executive officer of DMR Architects in Hasbrouck Heights. “It’s just part of what we have to do … It’s not unusual.”

DMR has done extensive work in North Jersey, where the only land left to develop often poses environmental or wildlife-conservation challenges, be it protecting eagles or bog turtles, according to Rosenberg. If you live in the region, odds are pretty good that you’ve set eyes on at least one place or project DMR has worked on, be it a hospital like Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, the Meadowlands rail station, downtown Hackensack’s redevelopment or the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in Holmdel.

This year, booming DMR, the fourth-largest architectural firm in the state in terms of staff size, is busy with two big projects. It is architect and planner for SkyMark, a Ridgefield Park development — in the works for two decades — that will include about 1,500 residential units, 350,000 square feet of retail space and a 300-room hotel when its final phase is complete. Construction on the project, dubbed “Eagle’s Nest” by some, is finally expected to begin this spring. And work is continuing on Hudson County’s new $144 million High Tech High School in Secaucus, designed by DMR. The final steel beam was installed last week at the site, 22 acres adjacent to Laurel Hill County Park. The 350,000-square-foot facility is slated to open in September next year.

A third DMR project, the $10 million transformation of the former Nets basketball team’s training center in East Rutherford to the home of the Meadowlands Area YMCA, opens in April.

Buoyed by such undertakings, and the economy’s recovery, DMR enjoyed a banner year in 2016, when it celebrated its 25th anniversary. The firm, which has about 100 projects in various stages, saw its projected revenue last year climb about 84 percent to $9.8 million from $5.3 million in 2015. So it could accommodate its increased workload, last year DMR added nine employees, bringing its staff roster to 39. And last week, for the first time, DMR named five partners, Rosenberg said, to spread management duties and to lay a foundation for his succession.

New high school was a boon

DMR founder Rosenberg, who turned 74 last week, said the firm got a big boost last year because work on the regional high school in Hudson County got off the ground, a project being bankrolled by the county and the state. He acknowledged that DMR suffered some bad years, most notably during the Great Recession, and cited the cyclical nature of his business in explaining why 2016 was stellar.

“The real estate market was strong in New Jersey,” Rosenberg said. “The municipalities we work with felt confident to go out and have their facilities improved. The private developers – low-interest rate, greater demand, increased values – they became strong. The reason we’re so successful is we have a very diverse practice. So we do private work. We do schools and colleges. We do public facilities, police stations and municipal buildings. We do office buildings. We do healthcare … We have a diverse practice, and all of the sectors in the market sort of increased volume.”

That’s the strategy behind having a full-service architectural practice, according to Rosenberg.

“We anticipate at times one sector is going to go down, and one sector is going to go up,” he said. “This particular year [2016] everybody went up.

Consequently, we did better and we hired more people.”

DMR’s recent growth appears to have been outpacing its peers. The American Institute of Architects tracks billings nationally and regionally through its Architecture Billings Index, or ABI , said Ben Lee, the new president of the group’s New Jersey chapter and chief financial officer for NK Architects in Morristown. In November, the index was 50.6 nationally and 50.8 for the Northeast, according to Lee. Anything above 50 represents an increase in billings. Referring to the Northeast’s performance, he said, “It’s good, but it’s not moving a full digit.”

Eagle issue resolved at SkyMark

The SkyMark center rivals American Dream Meadowlands, the massive retail-entertainment complex being built in the East Rutherford Meadowlands, in terms of its delays.

“We’ve owned this property since 1999,” said Tony Noce, development manager for Paramus-based SkyMark Development Co. “It was originally going to be developed as office but now it’s mixed use and it’s just a complex project … We’ve done all the environmental remediation. There was an eagle’s nest. We had to get major infrastructure improvements approved with the N.J. DOT [Department of Transportation] and the Turnpike Authority to provide access to the site. All these things take a lot of time to get.”

As the architect and planner, Rosenberg said DMR had the task of reworking SkyMark’s plans to create a five-acre buffer to protect the two eagles and their nest.

Ultimately, the plan approved by federal officials will carve out an 11-acre eagle preserve on the southern end of the SkyMark property, taking up about 20 percent of the 55-acre site, Noce said. SkyMark will be built at the crossroads of the New Jersey Turnpike and routes 46 and 80.

Noce said he and developer Ralph Ianuzzi Jr. are in the final stages of putting together SkyMark’s financing. They are slated to meet with the Ridgefield Park village board of commissioners this week to update them on the project, according to Mayor George Fosdick. Noce said he expects construction to start in late spring.

Police headquarters projects 

This year construction on another one of DMR’s projects, a $7 million Garfield police station, is also slated to begin. The current headquarters on Midland Avenue, constructed in 1960,  is “woefully undersized” for the 66-member police force and “was built for another era,” City Manager Thomas Duch said. Local police headquarters have become another DMR area of expertise, according to Rosenberg.

Originally, plans were for another architecture firm to design the new Garfield police headquarters. However, city officials gave DMR the job after they were “impressed” by a presentation by Rosenberg, as well as by his design work at the Bergen County Public Safety Operations Center in Mahwah, according to Duch.

“Many of these police stations now are outdated,” Rosenberg said. “They don’t have the current technology. Their facilities are not safe. They’re not habitable.”

Rosenberg said it’s hard to make forecasts for this year, but that he thinks President Trump will be effective helping the business community and stimulating the economy, especially in the tri-state region.

“I hope that he does the things that he said he’s going to do with infrastructure and public work and hospitals and schools,” Rosenberg said. “We do live in his geographic area.”

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com.

How architects can take advantage of economic cycles, even the downturns

How architects can take advantage of economic cycles, even the downturns 960 540 DMR Architects

Lloyd Rosenberg, AIA, president and CEO of Hasbrouck Heights-based DMR Architects has been through several economic cycles, including three recessions, since he started his company in 1991.

Fueled by the recent strength of the construction industry, DMR is celebrating its 25th anniversary with its largest headcount and is recording its highest revenue.

While not immune to economic cycles, the firm has used downturns as strategic thresholds in which it increases market share and adapt to new trends, often diversifying into new practice areas and adding key talent in recessions.

According to Mr. Rosenberg, the firm comes by its counter-intuitive growth strategy as a natural consequence of its beginnings: “In 1991, we only had three people, we couldn’t get any smaller so there was no place to go but up.”

Here are some thoughts on how he’s been able to grow his business through three recessions:

Using a Core Competency to Build a Diversified Practice – and Brand:

DMR’s diversification has many benefits and is the work of an intended strategy that had its roots in a single practice area. Working on various project categories with a wide variety of industries not only insulates the firm against cycles, it also keeps the staff interested and challenged, cross-pollinating the firm. But getting there is another matter — diversified professional practices are grown one piece at a time, and creating adjoining and complementary services, while an intended strategy, is more art than science.

Shortly after Rosenberg founded DMR, it earned the reputation as an esteemed school architect, ultimately serving more than 75 school systems throughout New Jersey. While working with schools, he developed relationships with municipal leaders and recognized there was a need for updated municipal buildings and, in some cases, urban planning, inspiring him to create a team that could address these issues as a cohesive unit.

“New Jersey’s multi-family needs have changed over the past decade, necessitating municipalities to collaborate with architecture firms that can not only create a vision plan for them, but also work them through zoning and other practical issues so that they can become a more sustainable community,” said Francis Reiner, PP, LLA, Senior Urban Designer, who joined DMR in 2008.

DMR’s diversification built on its initial strengths in school, articulating out to areas where it could apply its expertise profitably to new client categories.

For example, its assignment for the new 82,000 square foot Meadowlands YMCA includes design, permitting, planning and engineering roles — which are vertical and horizontal integrations of its legacy strength in school projects. Simultaneously, it is the architect for the new High Tech High School, which will be the most advanced high school project in the country.

Keeping Clients Happy/Relationship Building:

According to Rosenberg, “You’ve got to listen to what people are saying and convey that you sincerely care about what they need and about helping to find it.”

In South Toms River, DMR helped administrators see that they could get the municipal building that suited their needs for several generations by repurposing a daycare center. It has also recently worked with Hunterdon Medical to convert an office building into a 55,000 square foot satellite medical office, providing more convenient services to its patients in a warm and inviting atmosphere.

Keeping Staff Happy:

One of the great things about the culture at DMR is that with so many types of projects, there are constant opportunities for staff to collaborate and learn from each other. It makes each project seem fresh to the staff involved and results in more creative ideas for DMR’s clients.

Rosenberg also strives to create an atmosphere that is more like a peppy family than an office, most recently celebrating its 25th Anniversary year by providing staff with 25 daily surprises including a hot breakfast party, in-house massages and several 3 p.m. sweets breaks. Birthdays are a big to-do throughout the year, and they also celebrate the Winter Holidays yearly with an ugly sweater contest.

His employees appreciates his efforts to create opportunities for professional growth and personal comfort; the staff section of the company web site boasts that more than 13 of the staff have been with Rosenberg for more than 10 years.

“It’s energizing to know that while today, I’m working on the interior redesign of an apartment community, tomorrow, I might be managing the adaptive reuse of an office building into a police station, or assisting a local Community College create a space to accommodate for an entirely new administrative process” said Kurt Vierheilig, AIA, LEED AP, Senior Designer and Project Manager.

The staff’s tenure and experience also support the continuity of service in segments whose robustness occurs in different parts of the economic cycle. In turn, DMR always has the personnel base capable of shifting focus as the client base evolves.

This article originally appeared in Real Estate Weekly.

DMR Architects CEO sees opportunity to grow his firm in China

DMR Architects CEO sees opportunity to grow his firm in China 960 540 DMR Architects

by Joshua Burd

In mid-November, Lloyd Rosenberg was a long way from his home state of New Jersey.

But perhaps it takes that kind of journey to see what he saw during his 10-day trip in China, one that included tours of several breathtaking, historic villages in the southwestern region of the country.

“They were absolutely magnificent,” said Rosenberg, CEO and president of DMR Architects, in Hasbrouck Heights. “They were built on hillsides, built on rivers—it was spectacular.”

For Rosenberg, they are among the lasting images from a trip that could help grow his firm’s presence in China. DMR has since partnered with a Beijing-based architecture firm, Long On Group, in submitting designs for a rail-served 24-acre site in Lishui City that the local government hopes to redevelop.

The proposals, which are due this week, aim to transform the area around a high-speed railway station into a tourism destination that will include hotels, retail, restaurants, entertainment and public ground transportation.

“They’re very aggressive in planning, very aggressive in development, very aggressive in entertainment,” he said. “I would say the biggest thing I saw was the amount of tourism that they’re promoting—internal to China—people in China traveling around to see other parts of their country and be tourists.

“It’s not dissimilar to us.”

But as Rosenberg’s firm gets involved in redevelopment overseas, his trip also allowed him to weigh in on how to preserve China’s history.

This involvement stems largely from Rosenberg’s longtime friendship with James Jao, a fellow architect who once practiced in New York City before moving to Beijing more than 25 years ago. DMR has done consulting work for Jao’s firm, Long On Group, prompting Rosenberg and his staff to visit China several times in recent years.

His most recent visit took place in November, when he was invited to speak at the Qindongnan Conference on Preserving the Traditional Chinese Village. Appearing before some 500 senior government and planning officials, Rosenberg said one of his main objectives was to explain the process of preserving historic buildings and sites in the U.S., with the idea China could adopt such an approach for its own small villages that are exponentially older than anything in his home country.

“We have a method in place that exists that seems to work,” said Rosenberg, who was “honored to be able to speak as a representative of the architectural community” in the U.S. “And if they want to model something, it’s a model that could be replicated.”

He noted that the U.S. approach is often tied to tourism and entertainment, which presents one avenue for preserving China’s older villages as residents leave to pursue education and jobs in more urban areas.

For Rosenberg, the trip was bookended by private tours of villages in southwestern China, including Guiyang, Kaili City, Qiandongnan and Lishui, he said. The journey offered him a different perspective from his previous visits, which were tied to DMR’s master planning work for a 420-acre community in Shanghai’s Xin Jiang Wan township.

That plan included residential housing for 16,000 residents, a pedestrian retail strip, community and recreational facility, school building and office park, Rosenberg said. The project features include streams, rivers, lakes and landscape that connects one back to nature, which he said is at the heart of the Chinese culture.

It’s an example of the importance of towing the line between redevelopment and preservation in China, a dynamic that DMR Architects now has in mind as it seeks to do work in Lishui City and elsewhere.

“The Chinese people have a history that they’re proud of and they want to maintain that,” Rosenberg said. “They’re very proud of their history, they’re proud of their nationality and their culture and they want to visit the new and the old in China, so they want to visit new places that are being developed and they want to visit the old places that go back to their ancestors.”

This article originally appeared on NJBiz.