Newark is having a moment, something we never thought we'd type no matter how many times Mayor Cory Booker appeared on the Daily Show. The scariest place accessible via PATH train recently celebrated its first murder-free month since 1966, and the new arena is giving the city a boost. Now, even starchitects are riding into town to put their stamp on the city's fledgling resurgence.
Well, one: Richard Meier, the 75-year-old white-maned lion of the Modernism jungle. What does Hugh Jackman and a Newark charter school teacher have in common? They'll both be able to say they live in a Meier building, now that the architect's mixed-use Newark project, called Teachers Village, has been given the green light. The middle-income development will transform a dilapidated patch of land near City Hall, and for Meier it marks a late return to projects other than glassy luxury condo towers. In fact, NYT archicritic Nicolai Ouroussoff writes, more architects are feeling the urge to give back:
After a long period in which America’s greatest talents seemed to work almost exclusively at the service of the wealthy, there are signs that their efforts are trickling down to other segments of society. In New York, for example, Annabelle Selldorf, best known for the exacting precision of her gallery designs and loft renovations — and for revamping the Oak Room at the Plaza Hotel — is about to break ground on a recycling plant on the Brooklyn waterfront; she may soon start work on another in the Bronx. Michael Maltzan, the architect behind the Museum of Modern Art’s temporary home in Queens during its last renovation, as well as homes for major art collectors, recently completed his second housing project for the homeless in six years, and is now working on his third.Isn't that touching? All it takes for renowned architects to lend a hand on some civic-minded missions is a global economic meltdown that makes financing all but impossible for any other projects. Even Meier's Teachers Village was originally supposed to include twin 77-story towers. Still, the downsized plan?buildings will range in size from 17 to 66 units and a potential second phase is already designed?looks pretty cool. Click through for another rendering, then get your broker out in Newark on the line.
· By the Architects, for the People: A Trend for the 2010s [NYT]