The iconic Newark Symphony Hall marquee that once greeted motorists entering Newark from U.S. Routes 1&9 has been missing for about two years — ever since a car rammed into the poles holding it up.
Now, the historic venue has plans for a new entrance that will serve not only as a visual marker for Broad Street but also as a beacon for Newark’s creativity. The new design plan from Trenton-based architectural firm Clarke Caton Hintz features streetscape art and a lit-up dome marquee to welcome both concert-goers and motorists.
“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 Newark Symphony Hall President and CEO Taneshia Nash Laird.
The new design plan is part of a five-year, three-phase $50 million project that is set to wrap by the venue’s 100th birthday in 2025. Newark Symphony Hall also received a $750,000 New Jersey Historic Trust Grant last year.
Newark Symphony hall has been closed during the pandemic, but it started a new career accelerator program called The Lab that will stage Richard Wesley’s “Black Terror” this fall.
The venue at 1020 Broad St. (which was renamed to Mayor Kenneth A. Gibson Boulevard about two years ago) was built in 1925 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. The new marquee pays homage to an old one that once stood at the venue in the 1960s and 1970s.
“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,” said John Hatch, of Clarke Caton Hintz, in a statement. “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.”
The design also calls for a plaza in front of the hall, which will function as a crosswalk, and large “NSH” letters on the pavement. Each letter in the abbreviation will have a word cloud consisting of the venue’s prominent musical performances.
Bike lanes are also part of the design.
The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan and Aretha Franklin are just a few of the artists who have performed at Newark Symphony Hall. The venue was formerly called the Mosque Theater.
Newark Symphony Hall also plans to improve up to 50,000 square feet of space, including reactivating an entire floor of the hall that has been dormant for more than 30 years. The design plans also include restaurant space on the ground floor.
The venue’s leadership expects the renovation to be financed by philanthropy, historic tax credits and other state and federal programs. A volunteer committee that includes members from Goldman Sachs and Facebook was created last fall to help Newark Symphony Hall reach fundraising goals.
The building is owned by the City of Newark and operated by the nonprofit Newark Performing Arts Corporation. It sits in a federal Opportunity Zone, a designation that allows investors to receive tax breaks to spur investment in certain areas.
The renovation will spur job growth and engage people from across the state, including Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC), the venue’s president 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 Tri-State Area,” Laird said.
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Rebecca Panico may be reached at [email protected].