Jersey City-based land-use consultancy, Dresdner Robin, has provided a suite of services for two New Jersey urban education projects, furthering its mission of bringing creative solutions and technological innovation to development in underserved communities.
The firm offered expert engineering, environmental, planning and survey services to the Clinton Hill Early Learning Center in Newark, NJ, and produced a campus vision report for Dr. Lena Edwards Academic Charter School (DLEACS) in Jersey City, NJ. The initial project for the early learning center involved developing a temporary site to supplement the existing operation while a new, permanent facility is developed. The charter school project involved a land-use vision report utilizing the firm’s landscape architects, surveyors and input and advice from the school community.
“These are meaningful education projects and our firm played a direct role in their outcome,” said Grant Lewis, Dresdner Robin’s senior project manager, engineering. “Bringing creative technological solutions and a collaborative nature to the projects, Dresdner Robin continues to address community needs in a densely populated state whose educational requirements remain ever-changing.”
Facilitating Progress in Newark
The New Jersey firm worked with the Maher Charitable Foundation on a temporary learning center on a vacant block in Newark’s South Ward. The 1-acre site, leased from the New Jersey School Development Authority (SDA), now consists of a one-story, 9,350-square-foot building – constructed using 10 modular trailer units. The Clinton Hill facility serves 78 students, from infants to 5 years old.
The temporary site will remain in use while the firm develops design documents, acquires land entitlements and conducts an environmental investigation to allow the construction of a permanent facility on an adjacent block. Dresdner Robin is responsible for all aspects of site development (including layout and zoning analyses, etc.).
“This is an important project for the community and a direct response to its needs. Overall, it is a great way to facilitate ongoing progress for Newark,” Lewis added. “Some of its notable features include a playground for toddlers along with a community room for various local needs.”
The firm provided engineering and planning testimony during a 2018 public hearing in support of site plan approval from Newark’s Board of Adjustment. Dresdner Robin also provided environmental services to comply with requirements of the Department of Children and Families, including remediation on soil and groundwater. DIGroupArchitecture, of New Brunswick, NJ, was the architect of record and a critical partner for both Newark projects.
Anticipating Future Educational Needs
Dresdner Robin also completed conceptual design, programming and analysis work at Dr. Lena Edwards Academic Charter School (DLEACS), which serves approximately 400 students at the site of the former Saint Patrick and Assumption/All Saints parochial school – at 509 Bramhall Ave., Jersey City, NJ.
The school’s physical space required alterations to match its next-gen curriculum. In 2018 and early 2019, Dresdner Robin’s landscape architects worked with the campus to develop a comprehensive report, incorporating curriculum components and anticipated future needs.
“Dresdner Robin has truly been a strategic partner in this project, allowing DLEACS to accommodate the educational needs of current and future students,” said Christopher Garlin, CEO of the Jersey City charter school. “Their work to anticipate demands on the space, while also incorporating the feedback of the school community, was special and we’ve valued the concepts they’ve put forward.”
The firm met with DLEACS administrators and stakeholders in a design charrette, gathering input from faculty, parents and students. Data obtained from the gathering was used to develop a campus-wide program diagram, which informed the conceptual design.
“Dresdner Robin will continue its work on community-oriented projects,” added Lauren Venin, project manager, landscape architect at Dresdner Robin. “We provide a range of services for the revival of urban landscapes and our projects – like those in Newark and Jersey City – bring clear results.”