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.

Real Estate NJ’s 2021 Market Forecast

Real Estate NJ’s 2021 Market Forecast 2000 1125 DMR Architects


After a year like no other, New Jersey’s commercial real estate industry is eager to turn the page. But many believe the pandemic’s impact will be felt for months if not years to come.

As always, we’re here to help you make sense of it all with the help of some top developers, service providers and thought leaders. You can find their predictions for the year ahead and more in our special 2021 Market Forecast.

Lloyd A. Rosenberg, AIA, President and CEO

The migration that started before the pandemic will continue through 2021 with renters willing to trade the conveniences of living in Manhattan for the lifestyle, sense of community and luxury amenities packages they can enjoy in urban and suburban markets throughout North Jersey. A tight for-sale market that has driven housing prices up, along with the desire for maintenance-free living, could also speed up the timeframe for empty-nesters looking to downsize. These and other demographics are looking for things like private outdoor add-ons like outdoor cooking and dining, pools and interesting rooftop terraces along with well-appointed apartment homes that have flexible spaces for multiple uses and ample storage, but at a reasonable price point. We’re currently designing rental communities in Woodbridge, Morristown, Edgewater, New Brunswick and Jersey City to fulfill these lifestyle needs while also being near NJ Transit and all of New Jersey’s major road arteries.

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This is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared in RE-NJ

DMR’s Education Building Upgrades and Divergent Thinking Spaces are a Study in how NJ Education Practices Have Evolved Over past 30 Years

DMR’s Education Building Upgrades and Divergent Thinking Spaces are a Study in how NJ Education Practices Have Evolved Over past 30 Years 960 540 DMR Architects

DMR’s four current new school construction projects could be used as a lesson on how much education has changed from the student desks lined in rows facing the teacher of yore to current requests for flexible spaces and furniture, materials and spaces that can be incorporated into the lesson plan, and ever-advancing technologies.

DMR has worked in nearly a quarter of all public school buildings in New Jersey since its inception in 1991—responsible for some of the state’s most advanced learning institutions and spaces—with a current roster that includes the new Junior High School in Carteret that when completed will provide 24 classrooms for traditional subjects with dedicated spaces for enhanced art and music education, a think tank, and a STEM lab for the municipalities 600 seventh and eighth graders.  It is the first new school plans to be approved in that municipality in over 40 years.

“Educators have seen that the design elements supporting the more collaborative learning environments are effective in high schools and are now asking us to apply them to spaces for younger students as well,” said Lloyd Rosenberg, AIA, President and CEO of DMR Architects.  “Additionally, where STEAM and STEM learning was once considered an opt-in club for kids with a knack for tinkering and creative thinking, it is now being incorporated into the everyday curriculums with classrooms intentionally designed to support them.

The collaborative spirit that happens in these divergent thinking environments and the use of technology that started in the science and math classrooms is now being applied to English and history classrooms as well.”

DMR also recently designed new schools for the New Jersey School Development Authority—a Middle School in Paterson and an Elementary School Plainfield—that are currently under construction to provide advanced learning options to these growing communities starting in September of 2021 and 2022 respectively.  The design of a new school in New Brunswick is also underway.

“We’re addressing technology needs throughout buildings now instead of just in a dedicated part of the library or a small media room,” continues Mr. Rosenberg.  “This trend will both continue and expand as pens and paper are more widely replaced by Chrome Books, Google Docs and promethean boards, and school administrators explore new ways to effectively implement remote learning options.”

DMR’s work includes Hudson County Schools of Technology-Frank J. Gargiulo Campus in Secaucus which has been open to students since 2018 designed so that all aspects of the physical facility are incorporated into the learning experience through the use of hydroponics, photometrics and locally sourced materials.

“As periodic upgrades to aging school buildings to support larger student populations come up, we will see more requests for alternative learning options,” said Lloyd Rosenberg, AIA, President and CEO of DMR Architects.  “Right now is an ideal time for institutional upgrades because of the low interest rates.”

Other projects on DMR’s roster includes capital improvement projects which will continue in 2021 in Bayonne, Franklin, Hackensack and Passaic. DMR teams are also currently working on more than 40 education renovation projects in New York City.

Real estate predictions 2021

Real estate predictions 2021 2000 1125 DMR Architects


The COVID-19 pandemic has crushed some aspects of commercial real estate while lifted others up. Its impact is too great — and still too uncertain — to pass judgment just yet.

So, we asked a number of influencers in commercial real estate to look into the future and predict its impact on commercial real estate in 2021.

Here are their thoughts:

Lloyd Rosenberg, CEO, DMR Architects

The ubiquitous open floor plan can easily adapt for social distancing with new workstation and benching layouts, and by incorporating software to control maximum occupancy loads. Building owners and employers can also improve ventilation by installing UV lighting or Bi-Polar Ionization air purification in their HVAC systems, and we anticipate outdoor areas playing a bigger role in our designs to encourage higher use. We’ll see more touchless technology like heat scanners at building entryways and automatic interior door openers. We also anticipate clients looking for ways to decrease the need for employees to come back and forth throughout the day, with flexible spaces so that they can offer employees meals, fitness and communication options.

This is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared in ROI-NJ

How can state and local leaders help bring new foot traffic to their downtowns?

How can state and local leaders help bring new foot traffic to their downtowns? 960 540 DMR Architects


We assembled a panel of industry experts to tackle this month’s question.

Here’s what they had to say.

Francis Reiner, senior urban designer, DMR Architects (Hasbrouck Heights)

There are a number of important aspects municipalities will need to consider moving forward. The design of public sidewalks, parks, plazas and other gathering spaces will be a critical component to meet the increasing needs of residents in downtowns under the ‘new normal.’

We anticipate the continued expansion of outdoor dining, both along the street and within larger parks and plazas. The design of the street and building setbacks along with smaller pocket parks and plazas at specific nodes within a downtown will be critical to support restaurants and outdoor dining similar to the Atlantic Street Park in Hackensack that was completed in 2015.

Municipalities should consider opportunities to temporarily convert on-street or ancillary parking, as well as street and alleyway closures on weekends and at night and building temporary pocket parks and parklets that support these types of function while allowing safe movement of pedestrians within a downtown.

This is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared in RE-NJ

Lloyd A. Rosenberg on cover of Commerce

Lloyd A. Rosenberg, AIA, President & CEO, featured on the cover of Commerce

Lloyd A. Rosenberg, AIA, President & CEO, featured on the cover of Commerce 789 444 DMR Architects

Lloyd Rosenberg, along with other New Jersey business leaders, were featured on the cover of the January issue of Commerce, the official publication of the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey. Each of these leaders were offered the opportunity to weigh in on their industry forecast for 2018, with Lloyd providing the following insight:

In 2018, DMR Architects is preparing its business for continued growth in each of the segments it serves, including projects for real estate developers, health care institutions and the public sector. With a newly elected Governor committed to growing the economy and investing in infrastructure, along with new initiatives inherent with any new administration, DMR projects measurable growth in the architecture and engineering industry, which may be tempered by the limited availability of experienced, skilled professionals.

DMR is proud to be represented among these New Jersey business leaders, and extends our best wishes for each of their continued success. For a complete copy of the Commerce article, please click here.

Nearly 25 years later

Nearly 25 years later, building is the same, but serving builders is very different

Nearly 25 years later, building is the same, but serving builders is very different 960 540 DMR Architects

by Gregg Stopa, AIA, Senior Vice President/Partner

I’ve been with DMR Architects for 23 years, recently becoming a partner in the now 25-year-old firm. This milestone inspired reflection about the architecture industry. For the most part, how buildings are being built is the same. Design-build projects and some new equipment provide a means to go a little faster, perhaps, but building is still all about the steel, sheetrock, concrete, wood and bricks.

Architectural services, on the other hand, have expanded and evolved to the point where the architect of the 1990’s might not recognize the profession today. The most significant change is in information technology, which creates productivity and expedites communication, but also unnecessarily adds a level of stress and complexity.

First, the expectation of responsiveness pressures every facet of our service. Driven by information technology and financial structure, projects now are developed in a context that would be impossible 25 years ago. The Internet contains more information than any architect or person could possibly know. The number of suppliers, products and processes is infinite. We find frequently that clients discover prospective solutions—sometimes when there is no problem to solve—that are not even relevant, never mind applicable, to our work on their behalf. But the requirement that we address the issues is very inefficient and disruptive. And financial structures today impose an enormous pressure on our clients to complete projects at budget and on time, despite variables that are beyond anyone’s control are ever-present. The architect’s function is unrelated to these dynamics but become influencers in how our work is delivered.

Being able to work virtually from anywhere digitally creates a set of expectations for responsiveness that has caused us to change how we operate the business. Because most of us use our own personal devices for work phone calls and emails, we also have seen our workday creep longer. 25 years ago, we received and delivered documents or materials by hand—often through regular mail. 25 years ago the client called us at our desk to confer. We could only get mail once a day. Now we have developed a mindset of being ready to perform virtually on-demand.

These expectations and the technology that fomented them come with many benefits, including a massive improvement in productivity. Is the work any better? Of course, styles change, but good work always looks like good work even when it ages. User specifications, especially in health care and other technical fields, are far more complex than they once were and the efficiency demands on space are far greater. Our profession has not just responded to those demands, we developed design strategies that improved our clients’ businesses and led to new performance standards and real estate practices.

In that sense, the architect has not changed. The architect is still the person that figures out how it should look, what it should be made of and how it should get built. So while the architect of 25 years ago would be lost if transported to today—and the architect of today similarly lost if transported to 25 years ago—the object of our profession is the same. Like everyone else, we are just expected to work harder at it and be better at it than ever before.

Architecture in 2017: sophisticated services in a complex environment

Architecture in 2017: sophisticated services in a complex environment 960 540 DMR Architects

by Lloyd A. Rosenberg, AIA, President & CEO

Architecture is a continually stimulating profession, especially for the firm’s owner who addresses complexities in various industries in delivering the service. Most people correctly associate architecture with creativity, as design is at the core of our profession, but the business of architecture incorporates numerous skills and processes beyond aesthetics. No where is this more true than DMR, which is larger and more diverse than most architectural firms, and integrates engineering, planning, environmental, bidding, construction supervision, legal and more into our service mix.

But it does always come back to design, because that is our deliverable. A subject of much discussion in every project, the challenges of design begin not with a blank canvas but with a set of constraints: space limitations, functionality, budgets and available materials are just four of the variables that are addressed by the architect. The real estate business positions the architect as the natural pivot point between the property owner and the contractor, so not only are we engaged for design, the architect is largely focused on managing the business issues of real estate development.

The architect’s role in development has never been greater than in the current environment, where regulatory standards have grown in complexity. For example, in New Jersey, various government agencies responding to Superstorm Sandy have adopted regulations on flood plains that can undermine the viability of projects already on the drawing board. And among other issues we have encountered this year, the unexpected presence of migratory birds prevented us from removing trees, postponing construction. Unknowns adds risk to development, and one of an architect¹s functions is to foresee potential issues and plan around them, eliminating the risk, but it is not always possible.

And finally, there is the variable represented by the market itself. Construction materials and labor costs can change after the planning for a project, but before it is commenced. The architect must monitor these issues so that there are no negative surprises after construction begins. And projects that seemed to be in demand when planned might not find a robust market when completed. All of these issues and many more must be factored not only into our service to our clients, but in the management of our architectural practice.

After 25 years in business, over which time DMR has become the 4th largest architectural firm in New Jersey, we’ve seen multiple cycles in the real estate industry. No economy is like any other, making it impossible to predict the length or impact of an expansion or a contraction. The correct management policy is to be ready to respond to changes in either direction always looking for the best position for future growth. Even when the business climate is in a downturn, there is a right way to contract that allows architects to take advantage of the inevitable opportunities to grow.

At DMR the main principle of stability is depth and diversity. We have structured the firm to weather downs and maximize ups by being able to shift into various practice areas depending on the demand cycle. In expansions, office and residential work is plentiful. In contractions, education and healthcare work may not be as plentiful but technology advancements often lead to redevelopment. By maintaining a staff that has expertise in a broad array of practice areas, we not only protect the stability of our own firm, we provide our clients with a depth of institutional knowledge that can only be developed through taking good ideas from one area and applying them to another.

A complicated business? Yes. But a rewarding one, especially when the day comes that a project is complete and we see it not only for its excellent design, but for all the elements that we blended into accomplishing its development.

Timing and Process Is Key in Development Projects

Timing and Process Is Key in Development Projects 960 540 DMR Architects

by Lloyd A. Rosenberg, AIA, President & CEO

Delays in construction projects can be costly—but perhaps the most expensive delays are the ones that occur before construction even begins. Materials and labor costs continue to rise in the economic expansion, and the cost of projects can increase from 10-20% from the time they are approved to the time construction begins.

The political environment can be very cumbersome, and months or even years can pass between the time a project is originally conceived and budgeted until it actually breaks ground. We’ve worked with some townships on building plans as recently as two years ago that are now not in the budget anymore because they waited.

As we are currently working on more than 12 municipal building projects across New Jersey, we recommend that municipalities calendar a re-budgeting process every three months so that delays can be priced into the final budget; and that bidding for jobs take place as soon as possible after approval. Typically a consultant has been retained to assist in the bidding for the project during its design phase who can be tasked with regular estimate updates. All the costs associated with the project need to be affirmed at regular intervals if there are hang-ups in getting started.

Another important discipline is foresight into what happens with the project in the next generation. For example, if the municipality needs to house 50 office employees now, what happens if the number is 70 in 10 years? Or 30? With growth in government balanced by automation of some functions, requirements of today surely will evolve with time, and a conscious approach to how property assets can be repurposed will save challenges for the next generation.

And finally, the project managers on the municipal side need to be satisfied that they understand all the elements of the project and their ramifications before it commences and specifically articulate all of their expectations. Too often, both sides take it for granted that everything is understood by a review of the drawings. But the business issues are much deeper than the plans, and without a detailed examination of the architect’s buildings plans against the client’s plan for the building, disaster can strike in the form of surprises when the building is complete and it’s too late for alterations.

Challenge your architect to explain how the plans relate to regulatory and other requirements conditions, which will help reveal potential complications in timing, and budget impacts.

With so many elements going into the making of a new building, recognizing that there will be surprises during the construction phase that even your architect or contractor didn’t imagine, and accounting for that ahead of time can save municipalities both time and money. DMR, acting as the project manager for projects including the currently-in-construction Frank J. Gargiulo Campus in Secaucus, is using technologies that allow all contractors on the project to talk daily in real time about potential issues and practical solutions, keeping them on a tight budget and aggressive timeline.

There are risk-management processes that can deliver highly predictable and desirable project outcomes, but often timeframes and budget issues push even the most disciplined professionals off best practices. At every turn, people need to remind themselves to measure twice and cut once. Mistakes mean doing things over, and that is far more expensive than doing them right the first time.

This article also appeared on New Jersey Association of Counties Newsletter.