View Full Version : High-powered Design Competition for Rutgers University, New Brunswick

February 16th, 2006, 11:02 PM
I got excited about this when I came across it the other day, Rutgers being my alma mater. In terms of architecture, the New Brunswick campus is run-down and out-dated, but has a lot of character and potential. The five competing firms are:

Jean Nouvel with Beyer Blinder Belle (an odd match-up)
Peter Eisenman
Antoine Predock
TEN Arquitos (from Mexico City)

Designs will go on display in April, and the winner will be selected by May. You can follow the competition at:

December 13th, 2006, 06:05 AM
December 13, 2006
Mexican Architect Looks at Historic Rutgers With a Modern Eye

Enrique Norten’s plans for the New Brunswick campus hug the Raritan.

With a cylindrical glass academic building and a new undulating landscape that will extend the campus right to “the banks of the old Raritan,” the Mexican architect Enrique Norten has won the competition to reimagine the historic Rutgers campus in New Brunswick, N.J. Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, is to announce its choice today.

The competition called for improving the public spaces and designing a new academic building on College Avenue, a main thoroughfare on the original campus of the university, which began as Queen’s College in 1766. The classroom building was to be sited near the New Brunswick train station. Mr. Norten’s design moves it instead to the Raritan River, so much a part of Rutgers that the university’s alma mater, published in 1874, is “On the Banks of the Old Raritan.”

To extend the campus out to the water, Mr. Norten designed a wavy landscape that is to rise alongside Route 18, the highway that now separates the campus from the Raritan. The space created underneath can be used for dining halls and recreation, Mr. Norten said, “so students get as close as possible to the river.”

Richard L. McCormick, the university’s president, said he selected Mr. Norten largely because of his willingness to implement his design over time. Rutgers cannot afford to build it all at once.

“We knew the campus needed to become more beautiful, more pedestrian-friendly, more in keeping with the 21st century,” Dr. McCormick said. “It was not going to be possible to build the entirety of any proposals in the short run. We wanted a team that would work well with us over the long haul.”

Mr. Norten said his firm, Ten Arquitectos, based in Mexico City, would inject a contemporary aesthetic. “The university wanted a vision for the next 50 years,” he said. “It’s a campus that has a very quaint little piece of existing architecture, but it has grown a little bit disastrously, a little bit without control. It’s really about making definitive and surgical incisions into the existing campus and College Avenue.”

At the center of the New Brunswick campus is the school’s oldest building, Old Queen’s, begun in 1809. With its simple classical outlines, this National Historic Landmark is a notable example of Federalist architecture.

Dr. McCormick said the university was seeking a balance “between respectfulness toward our existing facilities and looking toward the future.”

Mr. Norten was among five finalists in the competition, each one collaborating with landscape architects. The others were Eisenman Architects (with Field Operations); Thom Mayne of Morphosis (with Hargreaves Associates); Beyer Blinder Belle and Ateliers Jean Nouvel (with Oehme, van Sweden & Associates); and Antoine Predock Architect (with Olin Partnership). Mr. Norten’s firm is teaming up with Wallace Roberts & Todd.

Mr. Norten, collaborating with the landscape architect George Hargreaves, has been selected to redesign the New Orleans riverfront in a competition that included Frank Gehry, Daniel Libeskind, Zaha Hadid and the team Jesse Reiser and Nanako Umemoto. Although Mr. Norten led the competition to design the four-mile crescent along the waterfront, the plan has not won approval from local government officials, although that is expected tomorrow.

Other recent projects by Ten Arquitectos include a Brooklyn Public Library for the Visual and Performing Arts in Fort Greene; a master plan for Long Island City, Queens; a Guggenheim Museum branch in Guadalajara, Mexico; and the National School of Theater in Mexico City.

Mr. Norten said he would work on the Rutgers campus “little by little, building by building, so you never feel that the campus is under construction.”

The university has determined that the project will start with College Avenue, and plans to invest $15 million in new landscaping there. Undetermined is how much the overall project will cost and how long it will take, Dr. McCormick said. Rutgers hopes to raise much of the money from public and possibly private sources, he added.

To make College Avenue more walkable, Mr. Norten has proposed rerouting traffic, leaving only buses to connect campuses throughout New Brunswick and in neighboring Piscataway.

“We can start with a fairly small component, yet make a sizable impact,” Dr. McCormick said. “What we liked about Enrique and his team is that we could begin slowly and yet see some impact early on.”

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

December 13th, 2006, 06:33 AM
Richard L. McCormick, the university’s president, said he selected Mr. Norten largely because of his willingness to implement his design over time. Rutgers cannot afford to build it all at once.

In the past, Rutgers made it clear that the architectural firm would have to implement its plan piecemeal, in an extended time frame. Why did the competing architects not listen, when drawing up their proposals? Or was it that they listened, but drew up proposals inferior to Mr. Norton's? It would be interesting to learn what the competing architects proposed.

December 13th, 2006, 01:23 PM
I am not impressed. That cylinder looks ridiculous next to the river dorms. If anything, I'd like to see more classic looking buildings on campus, more in the spirit of Old Queens, Kirkpatrick chapel, etc. There is plenty of room to build modern and futuristic buildings on the Livingston and Busch campuses. Let Rutgers College reflect the fact that it is the 8th oldest college in the US with a beautiful, classic look.

One of the other proposals had a light rail. That's something I would have loved to have seen when I went there. Getting from Douglass to Livingston to College Ave. was awful during rush hour.

December 13th, 2006, 01:24 PM
Link to the design finalists' presentations can be found HERE (http://collegeavenuecampus.rutgers.edu/presentations.shtml)



The design teams present their proposals and explain the process and principles behind their concepts.

Eisenman Architects
Field Operations:


Morphosis–Thom Mayne
Hargreaves Associates:


TEN Arquitectos–Enrique Norten
Wallace Roberts & Todd, LLC:


Antoine Predock Architect PC
Olin Partnership:


Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners LLP
Ateliers Jean Nouvel
Oehme, van Sweden & Associates, Inc.:


© 2005 Rutgers

December 14th, 2006, 04:52 PM

December 21st, 2006, 04:26 AM
I acutally like the selected design. My guess for the cylinder would be that it's trying to represent the silos of the farms that dot the area around New Brunswick and Pisctataway and the rest of Central West Jersey. Rutgers along with the national great media coverage of the football team this year will go a long way to get more sponsors. I have been going to Rutgers football games for 4 years now so do see them finally do well and get the media attention Rutgers and New Jersey deserves is great.

Good job Rutgers, keep it up! :)