INOAInternational Office of Architects

ESSENCE 144

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Transformation of a Neighborhood Through Contemporary Architecture

Essence 144 is a multifamily building located in East Orange NJ which is within the New York City Metropolitan Area.  In a neighborhood with declining population and aging built environment, project goal was to create a desirable living address for millennials through its contemporary spacious living and amenity spaces. The project is a redevelopment of an existing building into a transit oriented residential complex with proximity to mass transit and highways. Project scope includes %30 renovation and %70 new construction of additional floors and expansion.

The design of the project takes the static typology of an existing 8 story brick office building to transform it into a more dynamic one through its expansion into a 156-unit, 14 story apartment complex that widens at its center and gently narrows to accommodate views and increase usable residential area.  Along the façade, horizontal bands of exterior wall panels thicken at the center and narrow near the edges to create a variety of naturally lit bright spaces.  These bands wrap around the existing building to create a mutual coexistence of the distinct architectural identities of the existing pre-war building and the new contemporary addition. These bands are broken up at the edges of the new addition by alternating loft apartments which offer double height fully glazed spaces. The inherit interior architecture of these lofts and their location on various floors defines the exterior architectural language.  The sloped roof line mimics the profile of the topography at a higher altitude and serves to hide the mechanical spaces as well as to create a wind barrier for its roof garden.

Through its unique contemporary design that integrates itself into an existing context as well as an existing structure, the project achieved to provide unique living spaces to attract a younger generation of residents to its neighborhood.  Since its commencement the project has become reference for other developments in the neighborhood.