RSC Architect’s design includes a two-story bridge connection to the Justice Center Complex for use by the public and prosecutor’s office staff. — All photos courtesy: RSC Architects/Robert Faulkner
By Joshua Burd
A locally based architecture firm its touting the opening of a modern, $140 million county government building that it designed in the heart of downtown Hackensack.
The firm, RSC Architects, said it worked with Bergen County to create the six-story, 130,000-square-foot building as the centerpiece of a six-year plan to modernize and upgrade the county’s justice center complex. The building will now serve as the new home of the Bergen County prosecutor’s office, sheriff’s department, surrogate office and tax board.
It is the first modern addition to the complex, which also includes a historic county jail and courthouse, RSC said in a news release. It provides much-needed improvements in functionality, while seamlessly fitting in with the existing historic buildings.
“The project presented a unique set of challenges from an architectural and design standpoint, as we needed to balance the 21st century needs of Bergen County with the preservation of the site’s rich cultural history,” said John P. Capazzi, president of RSC Architects, the project’s architect of record, design architect and interior design firm. “We worked closely with New Jersey’s Historic Preservation Office to create a design that would mold with the ‘Beaux-Arts’ architectural style of the adjacent historic courthouse.”
RSC noted that it picked design features and materials that complemented site’s historic status and existing buildings. The meant elements that had “a strong historic character by incorporating additive massing with projecting porticos and a recessed top floor,” the news release said, along with stone tile throughout the interior “to create a traditional, dignified feel.”
In the news release, the firm also described other design choices:
- A lobby designed with stone tile for elegance and durability, while the prosecutor’s office features a recessed lay-in decorative ceiling tile to give it a unified feeling across two different floors
- A multipurpose conference center was designed for both special events and daytime meetings, with floating wood panels on the ceiling that provide a rich ambiance
“We chose to use precast concrete panels for construction, which can be fabricated off-site in lots of different designs, shipped here and craned up to be placed on the steel frame,” said Jeffrey Schlecht, senior project manager with the Hackensack-based firm. “This allowed us to incorporate unique details that hint at classical elements, while working with a durable product on a site with limited space.”
The building’s first floor includes a central main lobby, cafeteria, conference center and tax office, while the higher floors house the sheriff’s office, the prosecutor’s office and the surrogate’s office, the news release said. The sixth floor is a data center operated by the sheriff’s department, which has cellular signal and emergency radio booster antenna systems.
There is also a two-story bridge connection to the Justice Center Complex use by the public and prosecutor’s office staff.
RSC is now beginning design work on the renovation of the vacated portions of the historic Bergen County Courthouse.
“Two Bergen County Plaza is a tremendous new addition to the County’s government complex and a prudent investment of public funds,” said Bergen County Administrator Julien Neals. “It not only brings a unique, traditional design created by RSC Architects but also complements the historic surroundings while accommodating for modern upgrades in security, technology, and amenities.
“Two Bergen is now home to critical government services and we are confident that it will stand for many years as a symbol of the pride we feel for community.”