A rendering of a redesigned and renovated exterior at Newark Symphony Hall on Broad Street — Courtesy: Newark Performing Arts Corporation/Clarke Caton Hintz
By Joshua Burd
Newark Symphony Hall has unveiled designs for an upcoming exterior renovation as part of a five-year, $50 million renovation project to restore the historic venue.
The nonprofit Newark Performing Arts Corporation, which operates the city-owned property, is working with architectural firm Clarke Caton Hintz on a plan that includes a new façade, marquee and plaza that it says would activate a stretch of Broad Street. Aside from the new façade, the renovation will transform the city block with new bike lanes, improved curbing, a central island and transportation access.
“With the help of historic preservation experts Clarke Caton Hintz and our wider project team, we’ll be revitalizing our corner of Broad Street while modernizing — and paying tribute to — our historic venue, an anchor institution for the city,” said Taneshia Nash Laird, CEO and president of Newark Symphony Hall.
Located at 1020 Broad St., the facility was built in 1925 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. Its operator is now planning to mark its centennial with the completion of the three-phase restoration project in 2025.
CCH’s work includes historical and contemporary design influences that match the venue’s longstanding presence, with a new marquee that will be reminiscent of the one that stood at NSH between the 1960s and 1970s. The team also touted details such as a translucent dome that will shine directional light onto the building’s columns, along with a canopy face that will be lit with LED bulbs and an illuminated Newark Symphony Hall sign.
“Our partnership with Taneshia and the folks at Newark Symphony Hall has been wonderful, and we very much appreciate the opportunity to breathe new life into such hallowed ground,” said John Hatch, principal with Trenton-based CCH. “Our idea behind the entry canopy/dome is to think of it as a delicate yet bold structure, a kind of beacon that lights-up the entire entry sequence and invites everyone to come in. The dome’s curved glass and chevron shape, along with the creative streetscape, make the hall a gathering agent and, surely, one of the city’s most unique and historic attractions.”
Design features also include a series of in-ground directional LED up-lights to wash onto the façade from the sidewalk, according to a news release. They will be accompanied by new streetlights with tear-drop light fixtures in front of the building, matching other sections of Broad Street.
Additionally, the project team is planning an NSH Plaza in front of the hall that will function as a crosswalk for pedestrians, along with a public works and public art component that celebrates the venue’s artistic history. CCH is also preparing an interior space plan to accommodate building tenants beyond the Newark Performing Arts Corporation, which hopes to improve as much as 50,000 square feet of tenant space, including reactivating an entire floor of the hall that has been dormant for more than 30 years, while adding street-level restaurant space.
NSH expects the renovation to be financed by philanthropy, historic tax credits and other state and federal programs, noting that the property sits within a so-called Opportunity Zone that provides federal tax benefits to investors. The hall is currently fundraising for the building envelope and marquee work and has engaged both the Newark Landmarks and Historic Preservation Commission and the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office.
The latter retains project oversight from a $750,000 New Jersey Historic Trust Grant awarded to the venue in November 2020.
“The unveiling of our design is just one step toward reaching our final mark in 2025,” Nash Laird said. “Through immense determination and collaboration at the city, state and federal levels, we know that this will be a monumental project and one that will spur job growth and engagement, particularly for BIPOC artists and individuals in our great city and across the tristate area.”
The entire renovation is set to create 500 jobs and assist 50 local small businesses, the news release said.