Representatives from the New Jersey Institute of Technology joined business leaders and public officials Thursday to cut the ceremonial ribbon at the Central King Building, an education and research hub that is the result of an $86 million renovation of the former Newark Central High School. — Courtesy: NJIT
By Joshua Burd
A former high school in Newark has found new life as a New Jersey Institute of Technology academic and research building, following an $86 million renovation that the university unveiled Thursday.
Staff, students and others from NJIT joined business leaders and public officials to mark the transformation of the former Newark Central High School. Now known as the Central King Building, the facility has become a hub for education and research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the heart of the state’s largest city.
The renovation of the five-story building is also the first piece of a $300 million capital building campaign aimed at invigorating research, teaching and community life at NJIT, the university said in a news release. Two new buildings are soon to follow, including a 24,500-square-foot life sciences and engineering building and a 200,000-square-foot Wellness and Events Center.
The latter will include a 4,500-seat conferencing space that converts into a 3,500-seat arena.
“NJIT was founded in 1881 by industrialists for the purpose of educating a skilled workforce for Newark’s businesses, and we never have lost sight of our symbiotic relationship with this great city,” NJIT President Joel S. Bloom said in a prepared statement. “Newark has given much to NJIT, and NJIT has given much in return.
“So, it is especially gratifying to know the historic structure behind me, which was home to thousands and thousands of Newark Central High School students over the years, will serve as an important resource to NJIT, the City of Newark, the State of New Jersey and our entire region for many years to come.”
The Central King Building also has the distinction of being the largest single project funded by the state through the 2012 Building Our Future Bond Act. To celebrate the success of the $750 construction bond, NJIT was joined Thursday by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and state Secretary of Higher Education Rochelle R. Hendricks, who called the Central King Building renovation “a testament to brilliance and imagination.”
“We are indebted to you, President Bloom, and the students for being cutting-edge in the State of New Jersey,” Hendricks said. “NJIT bears witness to a place that is beating the odds.”
Also on hand were Dr. Andrew L. Pecora, chief innovations officer and vice president of cancer services at Hackensack University Medical Center and Stephen P. DePalma, chairman of the NJIT board of trustees, along with U.S. Rep Donald M. Payne Jr. and Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. DePalma, a 1972 NJIT graduate, touted the role of the Central King Building in the positioning of the university to continue its growth.
“The Central King Building renovation is part of a campus transformation that will improve our capabilities in research and innovation, enable us to attract faculty members who are among the best and brightest in their disciplines, and improve the educational experiences of and outcomes attained by our students,” DePalma said. “The new Central King Building will serve NJIT, its students, its community, its state and our economy well for many years to come.”