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The largest timber office building in the U.S. will anchor Newark, N.J. mixed-use development

Michael Green Architecture is designing the building.

February 05, 2018 |
Interior of new timber office building

Courtesy Michael Green Architecture/Lotus Equity Group

Riverfront Square, a proposed 11.8-acre mixed-use development in Newark, N.J. will include a 500,000-sf timber office building. According to Michael Green Architecture, the building’s architect, and New York-based real estate development and investment firm Lotus Equity Group, the new structure would be the largest timber office building in the country when it completes construction.

Timber-built buildings are more environmentally friendly than buildings constructed with traditional materials. Manfactured steel and concrete, which are typically secondary materials within a mass timber building, account for an estimated 10% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. “The vision we share with Michael Green is to design the most environmentally sustainable office tower that enhances the health of tenants and the surrounding communities through efficient planning and green design,” says Ben Korman, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Lotus Equity Group, in a release.


Exterior of mass timber building

Courtesy Michael Green Architecture/Lotus Equity Group.


Riverfront Square is expected to provide up to 2,000 residential units, large- and small-scale retail, cultural and public open space, a hotel, 2 million sf of office space, and parking spaces in the heart of downtown Newark. The proposed site is adjacent to the waterfront and NJ Transit’s Broad Street train station, which can deliver riders to Midtown Manhattan in 18 minutes.

In an interview with BD+C this afternoon, Korman said his firm has been developing and building in Newark for a dozen years, and has a working partnership with the longtime owner of 2 Gateway Center, which at 800,000 sf is the city's largest office building. “We understand the dynamics and the history of Newark, and after analyzing the market came to the conclusion that the central business district was in need of significant housing.”  He believes that Newark—which is among the 20 cities vying for Amazon's second headquarters—is poised for growth.


Courtesy Michael Green Architecture/Lotus Equity Group.


The decision to use mass timber for the office building was made, he said, about a year ago, “close to when we started the design process.” He said his firm “wanted [the building] to be a project of the future: affordable and sustainable, with a lower carbon footprint.” Lotus is also exploring using mass timber to build some of the residential component of Riverfront Square, too.

The 500,000-sf mass timber office building will be three interconnected sections, at heights of six, eight, and 11 stories, respectively. Amenities will include open spaces on the roof and ground floor of the building. In fact, five of Riverfront Square's 11.8 acres would be open space, some of which would connect with the city's existing parks.


Courtesy Michael Green Architecture/Lotus Equity Group.


Michael Green Architecture, based in Vancouver, B.C., has worked on several mass-timber projects, including the seven-story 220,000-sf T3 Minneapolis and the eight-story, 97-foot-tall Wood Innovation & Design Centre in Prince George, B.C. It is one of four architects with which Lotus is working on the Newark office project, the others being TEN Arquitectos, Practice for Architecture and Urbanism, and Minno & Wasko Architects and Planners.

Lotus needs to find a tenant before this project moves forward (it hasn't picked a general contractor yet, either). But when that happens construction should take about 20 months, said Korman, who added that the city of Newark is encouraging this kind of commercial and residential development. “They are a pleasure to do business with.”  


Courtesy Michael Green Architecture/Lotus Equity Group.


Rendering of the exterior of the timber buildingCourtesy Michael Green Architecture/Lotus Equity Group.

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