The @FelicianoCenter’s @MIXLabDesign Design Charrette for “B.E.L.A.” Summer High School Program Entailing the Redevelopment of a Significant Urban Historic Site #UrbanPlanning #Redevelopment #Business #Entrepreneur #Education #HighSchool #DesignThink #Innovation #NJEd @MontclairStateU

On July 9, 2019, in the capacity of University Architect at Montclair State University (and Alumni of the Feliciano School of Business). I had the privilege of participating in a design charrette with a local high school. The project consists of an urban redevelopment site with a precious historical building at the site. I was invited by the people who run the Montclair State University MIX Lab (Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship), an interdisciplinary hub for transformative innovation, and digitally mediated making.

M.I.X. stands for Making and Innovating for X, where X is the unknown, that which exceeds our grasp, the future, and the open-ended nature of creativity, good design and big problems. The co-directors of MIX Lab are Iain Kerr, associate professor of Innovation Design, and Jason Frasca, entrepreneurship instructor.

I graciously accepted Jason and Ian’s invitation to participate as a guest critic along with another fellow professional, Frank Gerard Godlewski of Fellsbridge Studio LLC, who specializes in historic preservation in the area where the redevelopment project is located.  The format for the design charrette, hosted by the MIX Lab for the high school program led by high school teacher, Kevin Richburg, included: (1) The students, in groups of 4-5, presented their concepts for the redevelopment of the site (there were 5 teams); (2) the guest critics gave suggestions and further thoughts on how to further explore and develop the student’s ideas; (3) the guest critics summed up their thoughts for all the students with key take-aways.  The following is a recap of what I learned from the students (in so far as what is the most significant to them) and the key take-aways I offered the students (in no particular order of importance) from my perspective as an Architect who has been involved in the planning, design and construction of projects over the past 20-years.

What the Student Teams Focused on as Key Ideas for their Projects:

  • Historic preservation of the existing building
  • Connecting with local community
  • Local and state pride
  • Affordability
  • Sustainability
  • Celebration of diversity and inclusion
  • Love of the arts
  • Focus on the user “experience”
  • Spaces for families to enjoy
  • Entertainment
  • Accessibility to quality food and goods
  • Mixing of “Bright and Bold” historic and modern elements
  • Transformative
  • “Modern” vibe

Proposed Amenities of the Re-Development Site:

  • Supermarkets (one group proposed a two-story whole sale supermarket)
  • Open-air markets (farmer markets, etc.)
  • Retail, restaurants, food trucks
  • Open space, a square or plaza
  • Parking for visitors (possible tunnel or bridge)
  • Parking at perimeter

Types of Buildings (Programmed Spaces)

  • Main historic building’s exterior appearance
  • Main historic building’s exterior appearance
  • Explore modernization of existing historic building interior to suite new uses
  • Mixed use buildings with green roofs and roof top patios
  • Modern, light and transparent
  • Restaurants and sports bars
  • Entertainment – bowling alley, arcade, movie theater
  • Arts – Museum showcasing tradition and innovation
  • Grocery stores
  • Food trucks
  • Retail
  • Technology/electronics-based retail
  • Main historic building’s exterior appearance
  • Explore modernization of existing historic building interior to suite new uses
  • Mixed use buildings with green roofs and roof top patios
  • Modern, light and transparent
  • Restaurants and sports bars
  • Entertainment – bowling alley, arcade, movie theater
  • Arts – Museum showcasing tradition and innovation
  • Grocery stores
  • Food trucks
  • Retail
  • Technology/electronics-based retail

Types of Exterior Spaces

  • Open spaces with green lawns and fountains
  • Places to reflect and remember
  • ·Field with stage and seating
  • Outdoor seating for restaurants
  • Areas to relax

Key Take-Aways & Ideas for Further Exploration:

  • Site plans – Delineate site elements separately from building elements (so easier to comprehend) using color or graphics (Example)
  • Floor plans – Delineate building areas/rooms with designated color so it is easier to understand program of spaces (i.e., circulation vs apartments vs retail vs support spaces, etc.) (Example)
  • Work together as a team – commemorate each other’s strengths but give everyone credit even those whose work may be behind the scenes
  • Focus on one main idea (let other ideas support the one main theme)
  • Context and Scale – Observe and learn from the surrounding community; apply those elements to the proposed project so that it complements the adjoining communities
  • Materials – Understand how the new materials can complement the historic ones (let the original historic building stand on its own and celebrate its historical significance)
  • Consider “big box” retail versus the Local “pop ups” (gentrification good and bad)
  • Parking/Transportation – As mass transportation has changed from ships to locomotives to buses and cars; look to the future as the world heads to autonomous vehicles (particularly China).  If parking is required think about how a parking lot or parking garage can be transformed in the future.  Example
  • Sustainability is important but do not forget to consider W.E.L.L. as well.  LEED/Sustainability concepts Resource 1 ; Resource 2 also check out the following link for ides about other program types for the redevelopment project Resource 3
  • Consider more technology in your projects, for instance: Smart CitiesAR/VR, and other innovate concepts, like: Immersive Experience and Virtual reality in theme park attractions. Also consider utilizing QR Codes as a teaching tool.
  • Consider developing a pedestrian mall by converting an existing street into a pedestrian friendly zone like they have done in Jersey City, NJ or Times Square, New York City, NY or Fremont Street Experience in Downtown Las Vegas, NV, the taking cars, trucks and buses off the street and giving the spaces back to the pedestrians who can enjoy it (also it would make the entire site one big site instead of two separate parcels dived by thru traffic).
  • Lastly, and not least important, when considering injecting modern elements with historic architecture, it must be considered whether the original is to remain intact or be altered.  There are interesting examples of tasteful alterations, however, the older I get the less comfortable I am with injecting new with old for the sake of “shock” value (where as a student of architecture 20 years ago the concept was more appealing).  I reminded the students of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, and the ensuing debate that is going on whether or not the renovations/upgrades should be true to the original or whether the new design should be bold and innovating and perhaps less true to the original.  Whether the designers choose to go in one direction or another much thought should be given to preserving the historical elements of our precious structures because they are irreplaceable (think Grand Central Station in New York City, NY, which acted as a catalyst for the preservation movement).  Click here to read about the history of the Preservation Battle of Grand Central Station.

Overall, I was impressed by the talent and creativity of all the students and I was pleased with the quality of their presentations. I hope I was able to contribute in some small way to the success of their respective projects.  The high school student participants’ contributions to the build environment would be welcomed by the design and construction industry, since the students are willing to understand and develop their skills in the area of deep thought, innovation, design, construction and socio-economic concepts at an early age.  I gladly encouraged each and every one of them by letting them know that if they choose a career in architecture, engineering, real-estate development, construction or related field that they would certainly all be able to achieve their goals based on their willingness and eagerness to learn and present their visions and concepts.   I hope my involvement was as rewarding for the students as it was for me.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


University Architect @FrankCunhaIII Leads Architectural Walking Tour of @MontclairStateU’s Campus for Architect Guests, @AIANJ AIA Newark Suburban #AIA #University #Architect

On May 18th, AIA Newark Suburban held a campus walking tour of Montclair State University led by fellow member, Architect Frank Cunha III, AIA.  The tour addressed the history of the campus and the way it has been designed and constructed to protect and promote the health, safety, and welfare of the occupants of the buildings and grounds.

Building on a distinguished history dating back to 1908, Montclair State University is a leading institution of higher education in New Jersey.  Designated a Research Doctoral University by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, the University’s 11 colleges and schools serve more than 21,000 undergraduate and graduate students with more than 300 doctoral, master’s and baccalaureate programs. Situated on a beautiful, 252-acre suburban campus just 12 miles from New York City, Montclair State delivers the instructional and research resources of a large public university in a supportive, sophisticated and diverse academic environment. University Facilities currently manages 70 buildings and approximately 5 million gross square feet of space on our campus. More information available: https://www.montclair.edu/about-montclair

Frank Cunha III, AIA, University Architect, has been with the University Facilities team since 2007.  Since graduating from the New Jersey Institute of Technology School of Architecture in 1998, he has obtained licenses to practice architecture in 9 states.  Frank is currently completing his Masters in Business Administration at Montclair State University and expects to graduate in May 2019.

Frank is passionate about strategic planning, architectural design and constructing of complex projects in a challenging and ever-changing environment.  He considers the environment, energy, and the health and wellness of the occupants during all phases of the project while addressing the programming needs to ensure the stakeholder’s program requirements are met and align with the organization’s mission, vision and values.

With the assistance of his design and construction teams, Frank has been responsible for many projects of various size and scope around campus. Some project highlights include: Student Recreation Center, Center for Environmental Life Sciences, Cali School of Music, School of Nursing, the Center for Computing and Information Science, Sinatra Hall, School of Business, Schmitt Hall and historic renovation and addition to College Hall, to name a few.

We would love to hear from you about what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,

FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


Hanging with the Cool Kids of @MSUCSAM

On August 21st, 2017, The College of Science and Mathematics at Montclair State University hosted an impromptu gathering for 

Click on The College of Science and Mathematics to learn more about Science at MSU, which has been designated by the state as a public research university.

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Frank  Cunha IIITwitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Blog


Architect’s Sketchbook – Montclair State University (Sketches by @FrankCunhaIII, 2017)

College Hall is where the history and the future of Montclair State meet. It’s where every student’s college journey begins with Undergraduate Admissions and ends with the submission of their final audit to the Office of the Registrar for graduation.

College Hall is where it all started. Back in 1903, the New Jersey State Normal School in Trenton could no longer support New Jersey’s growing need for qualified teachers by itself, so the state approved plans for a new normal school to serve northern New Jersey. (A normal school was a post-secondary school devoted to training teachers.) And in 1908, the New Jersey State Normal School at Montclair admitted its first students.

College Hall’s Spanish mission-style architecture, which was adopted for other buildings on campus, was the inspiration of benefactor Edward Russ, a member of the New Jersey State Board of Education who liked buildings he saw on a trip to California. So he integrated the style into plans for College Hall, complete with red-tile roofs—a look that lives on in campus construction today.

In the beginning, College Hall housed almost everything—administrative offices, classrooms, a library and a gym. Today, it is Montclair State’s administrative hub, housing the offices of the President and the Provost, University Advancement, Admissions, the Registrar, the Graduate School and more.

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Dedicated to the first president of Montclair State, Charles S. Chapin, in 1928, it is one of the original buildings of the Montclair State Normal School. This former residence hall was renovated in 1974, and again in 2009, and is now the home of the John J. Cali School of Music. The Leshowitz Recital Hall is also located in Chapin Hall.

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Russ Hall was built in 1915 and served as the first residential facility of the State Normal School at Montclair, now of course known as Montclair State University. Converted at one point to an administrative building and then later renovated back to a residence hall, Russ Hall provides suite-style accommodations for approximately 100 students.

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IMG_2253Dedicated to Allan C. Morehead, an alumnus and former professor, executive vice president and provost at Montclair State. Morehead Hall was used as a demonstration high school from 1929 to 1973. It now houses several student support services offices.

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