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NJIT renames College of Architecture and Design for Hilliers, icons in profession

New Jersey Institute of Technology announced Tuesday it is renaming its College of Architecture and Design for renowned architects J. Robert and Barbara A. Hillier, in recognition of a gift from the Hilliers that represents the largest donation in NJIT’s history.

The gift will provide support for student scholarships, faculty development, state-of-the-art technology, physical space improvements, high-impact educational experiences and curricular innovation.

The J. Robert and Barbara A. Hillier College of Architecture and Design at NJIT was formally announced on campus following NJIT’s undergraduate commencement ceremony at the Prudential Center in Newark.

“The Hilliers are icons in the world of architecture, and we are incredibly proud to have this school carry their name,” NJIT President Joel S. Bloom said.

“Their involvement with and support of NJIT have been extensive and incredibly valuable over the course of many years, and this gift will have a transformative effect on our students, faculty and research within the areas of architecture and design.”

During the 1990s, the Hilliers’ firm designed the architecture school at NJIT that will now bear the Hillier name. The project incorporated open and closed studios; an exhibition and conference gallery; high head-room space for construction, structural and materials testing; and long views of Newark and Manhattan.

Illuminated at all hours to allow students to work around the clock, the building is referred to as “the lantern on the hill.” It won the firm a New Jersey Chapter Design Award from the American Institute of Architects.

NJIT President Joel Bloom alongside J. Robert and Barbara A. Hillier, center.

“NJIT is very forward-thinking in everything that it does. I believe that architecture needs to look forward as a profession, more today than ever before. This inspired us to think that NJIT would be a good place to support the future of architecture,” J. Robert Hillier said.

“Our hope is that this support will improve access to architectural education and advance architectural research at NJIT, which is a major research university. This gift really matters to NJIT, and that means a lot to Barbara and me.”

Barbara Hillier agreed.

“I think the leadership at NJIT is very special,” she said. “They have been looking for ways to enhance the programs they have, not just in architecture, but in other disciplines as well. And they really embrace all of their students and provide them with a very strong education from which to launch their careers.”

The Hilliers, both architects, are co-founders and principals of Studio Hillier LLC, located in Princeton. Their precedent firm, Hillier Architecture, was the third-largest strictly architectural firm in the country and was identified by the magazine Architectural Record as one of the best-managed firms in the U.S.

Their interdisciplinary design firm counts hospitals, corporate headquarters, universities, independent schools, arts centers and museums, and residential properties among its many projects around the world. The Hilliers have received more than 300 state, national and international design awards for their commitment to “place, sustainability and the built environment,” while also offering expertise in master planning, urban land use strategy and historic preservation.

Among their many notable commissions are the 5 million-square-foot Sprint world headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas, the Sydney Harbour Casino in Australia, the Las Colinas Convention Center in Irving, Texas, and the World Headquarters for GlaxoSmithKline in London. The firm was also the executive architect and interior designer for the Louis Vuitton Tower on 57th Street in Manhattan. Their historical restoration work includes the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington and the Virginia State Capitol.

In the educational arena, the Hilliers have worked for over 100 colleges and universities, including Princeton, Yale, Cornell, Columbia and Brown of the Ivy League, as well as Duke, Howard, Penn State, Mount Holyoke and Bryant University, where they designed the original Tupper Campus.

Their firm has designed 17 private international schools and has done several buildings on the campuses of the Peddie School and the Lawrenceville School. In their hometown, they were responsible for the design of the Princeton Medical Center in association with HOK and the Princeton Public Library, one of approximately 40 libraries they have designed across the country.

Like his late father, James Hillier, the director of research for RCA, who developed the first working electron microscope as a graduate student, J. Robert Hillier is a recipient of an honorary degree from NJIT. He also received the NJIT President’s Medal for Lifetime Achievement in 2009 and the AIA’s Michael Graves Lifetime Achievement Medal in 2007. He was named New Jersey’s Entrepreneur of the Year by Inc. Magazine in 1989.

As a member of the core faculty at Princeton University’s School of Architecture, J. Robert Hillier has lectured extensively throughout the United States at schools of architecture and to AIA chapters. He is a member of the board of overseers of the Foundation at NJIT and has served on the board of visitors of the university’s Albert Dorman Honors College since 1996, when he was its first chairman.

Barbara Hillier has received many honors for her architectural work, including numerous AIA awards and the distinguished Chicago Athenaeum American Prize for Architecture. She has lectured and served on design juries at the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell University and Temple University, among other academic institutions. Her work has been featured in such prestigious publications as the New York Times, Architecture + Design and Metropolis.

The College of Architecture and Design at NJIT was established as the New Jersey School of Architecture in 1973, in response to an AIA National Advisory Committee recommendation to build a public school of architecture in Newark, and with approval from the New Jersey State Board of Higher Education.

The college was granted accreditation in 1978 and has since expanded its academic and research offerings with undergraduate degree programs in architecture, interior design, digital design and industrial design, and graduate-level programs in architecture and infrastructure planning. It continues to play an integral role in architectural and design education in New Jersey and the region.

NJIT Provost and Senior Executive Vice President Fadi P. Deek said the gift will have great impact.

“The Hilliers’ generosity will have a lasting impact on the quality of architecture and design education at NJIT for future researchers, practitioners and leaders,” he said. “Their gift will allow us to further invest in people, faculty and students, while also promoting innovative programs and research.”

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Newark is 1st city to get Opportunity Zone grant aimed at socially responsible investment

Newark has been awarded a grant of nearly $1 million from the Rockefeller Foundation and Prudential Financial as part of an initiative to help U.S. cities attract responsible private investment in economically distressed communities through Opportunity Zones.

The initiative is part of the Rockefeller Foundation’s U.S. Jobs and Economic Opportunity program focused on expanding economic opportunity for low-income Americans through policy, partnership and place-based transformation.

The foundation said the initiative aims to make it easier for cities to attract and responsibly deploy some of the more than $6 trillion of unrealized capital gains that could qualify for investment in Opportunity Zones.

The grant, the first of six the Rockefeller Foundation plans to announce, will total $920,000. It will be administered through the Newark Alliance.

In addition to funding a chief opportunity officer position and two community engagement specialists, each city also will receive two years of support in the form of a national Opportunity Zone Technical Assistance team to compile and leverage local, state and federal incentives, and help structure and support deals.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka was thrilled the city received the grant.

“The only way to make sure the ‘opportunity’ in Opportunity Zones benefits all Newark residents is to intentionally focus resources to ensure it happens,” he said in a release. “I am so pleased that, through the support of our longtime partner in progress, Prudential, Newark was able to be the first city in the Rockefeller Foundation initiative.”

Lata Reddy, Prudential’s senior vice president of diversity, inclusion and impact, said the program embodies what Prudential believes in.

“Prudential is committed to maximizing the potential impact of the Opportunity Zone program to spur catalytic investments in our hometown of Newark,” she said. “By providing capital, as well as our expertise from our other Newark redevelopment and Opportunity Zone projects, we will help close the gap between inequality and opportunity as the city grows.

“Our partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation is a crucial step toward ensuring that inclusive, responsible investment benefits all Newark residents and communities.”

Rajiv J. Shah, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, said his group sees the enormous potential the Opportunity Zone program brings.

“Opportunity Zones have the potential to unlock billions of dollars in innovative job creation and community infrastructure private investment in cities, lifting up Americans who most need this support and preventing their displacement by irresponsible development,” he said.

“Philanthropy has an important role to play in ensuring opportunity zones improve the lives of the residents in distressed communities. Starting with Newark, the Rockefeller Foundation will help empower communities to attract and implement investments that will provide real economic mobility to the greatest numbers of disadvantaged people.”

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Audible says new facility symbolizes Newark’s history, company’s innovation

The grand opening of a new facility has begun a new chapter for Audible, its employees, New Jersey business leaders and the greater Newark community.

Audible founder and CEO Don Katz, elected officials, business leaders, employees and members of the Newark community came together Friday to celebrate the grand opening of the company’s Innovation Cathedral. Once home to the Second Presbyterian Church, a congregation founded in 1811, the cathedral will now serve as an office facility for 400 Audible employees.

Audible did not immediately clarify whether the employees would be new hires, or moved from another facility and where.

The Innovation Cathedral, aligned with Audible’s goals to support students, interns and entrepreneurs and grow a tech ecosystem, seeks to revitalize the growing Newark business community.

Katz said the Innovation Cathedral was a proud landmark for Newark and a powerful symbol of Audible’s commitment to the city for over a decade.

“We have defined ourselves by the strategic pursuit of what a successful company can mean in ways that transcend what it does — and today is proof that our efforts are yielding positive outcomes for business and invention culture, for the many talented people who want to work with us and for the comeback of this great American city,” he said. “Doing the right thing is a responsibility all corporations must take seriously — and that companies anchored in cities like Newark have an obligation to lead.”

Built in 1933, the 80,000-square-foot cathedral was reimagined to maintain its historical elements while also reflecting a modern and innovative workplace. Its distinctive stained-glass windows and organ pipes remain, but new additions include game areas, an auditorium, a refurbished bowling alley, an exhibit space, work cafes and lounges.

Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka said the cathedral embraced the future of Newark while also symbolizing its preserved history.

“Audible’s restoration of this historic landmark into a center of innovation and tech job creation — including jobs for Newarkers — is one powerful example of the over $4 billion in economic development occurring across the city today, but it is so much more,” he said. “It is emblematic of a company with a moral compass driving inclusive growth, elevating our students with educational tools and internships, and supporting the local economy by living local and buying local.”

When Audible’s headquarters made the move to Newark in 2007, it became the city’s fastest-growing private employer, with 1,650 full-time employees. The company’s mission seeks to catalyze Newark residents by offering jobs and training programs, as well as incentives including housing subsidies for employees who choose to move to the city from elsewhere.

Katz said that moving Audible to Newark was one of the best decisions the company has made.

“In addition to our growth, the economic impact and job creation catalyzed by Audible and Newark Venture Partners is a call to arms for other companies who are joining us and who should join us here to thrive as we have,” he said. “Continuing to invest in Newark is as important as anything else we do.”

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Camden incentives squabbles overshadow RFQ for Riverfront State Prison site

The specifications and descriptions of the property in the RFQ were reasonably precise:

  • Riverfront property, views of Philadelphia skyline;
  • Approximately 8.75 acres of prime land, close to a newly established public park, roadway improvements;
  • Large-scale environmental cleanup that involved capping the property with clean fill, topsoil and vegetation;
  • Seemingly ideal location for commercial or mixed-use development.

If interested, the EDA release says (bolded and ALL CAPS as it was presented):

Qualifications must be received by 2 p.m. on September 18, 2019 in a securely SEALED envelope or carton.

Here’s what the Request for Qualifications for those interested in redeveloping the former Riverfront State Prison Site in Camden doesn’t say:

Will the developer or any companies using the site have access to any Economic Development Authority-sponsored tax incentive programs?

Will those using any potential incentives become pawns in the growing war involving Camden — a war Gov. Phil Murphy’s team says it did not want, but it has, thanks to a task force many in Camden feel (rightly or wrongly) was constructed with an eye on them?

Will — and it’s becoming increasingly easier to question — there be any incentive programs actually on the books when it comes time to advance the process?

And, finally, if there are no incentives available, will that be an acknowledgement that the previous incentives for Camden did what they were supposed to do: create an urban environment where incentives are no longer needed to attract development?

If the EDA’s release of the RFQ for the former prison site was intended to show the Murphy administration is committed to development in Camden, it may have fallen short.

Firms are not racing to do business in Camden right now.

“The EDA is toxic,” one developer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said. “No one wants to be associated with it right now. That’s not good.”

There is a lot of uncertainty.

And tension.

Earlier Friday, Camden Mayor Frank Moran (along with city council President Curtis Jenkins and state Sen. Nilsa Cruz-Perez) issued a tough-talking news release regarding Murphy’s planned visit to the city — only his second since taking office, they said.

“Gov. Phil Murphy is swooping into Camden to attend a small group event out of the eye of the public, but he won’t come here to talk to the leaders of the city about why he’s attacking it or the potentially devastating impacts his attacks could have on the amazing progress Camden is making,” Moran said in the release.

“That’s why it’s so important that he understand from those of us who were elected to represent the people of Camden a simple message: He’s not welcome here unless and until he stops attacking the city and talks to the people of Camden and the leaders who were elected to represent them.

“Using Trenton attack dogs to try to destroy any of the more than two dozen companies which are making major investments in Camden makes it harder to attract new ones here, and that hurts the people of Camden.”

Darryl Isherwood, a spokesperson for the EDA, took exception to Moran’s words, and reiterated the governor’s interest — and efforts — in Camden. Efforts, he said, are demonstrated by the RFQ.

“The focus of the task force has never been about one geography or one company or one person,” he said. “It’s always been about determining if taxpayer dollars — including those paid by the residents of Camden — have been spent wisely, and to ensure that the program works for everybody, not just a select few.

“Gov. Murphy continues to make the well-being of the city of Camden a priority,  in areas like education where we have allocated more than $310 million to school funding, the most in recent memory; transportation, where we have distributed more than $54 million to the county; and property tax relief, where more than $180 million has been earmarked under three separate programs.”

Isherwood said the governor is eager to get his new incentive programs passed.

“The governor has proposed a robust package of tax incentives that we’re still hopeful will be passed into law by the Legislature,” he said. “Those incentives certainly would benefit developers interested into the site.”

The process figures to be a long one. The RFQ is just the first step.

But it’s the first step into a situation some are hesitant to get into.

This much is a clear: A highly desirable piece of real estate (and a good part of that desirability comes from the investment that has come to Camden) is available. But it comes with many more questions than can be answered right now.

And that’s not good for New Jersey.

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N.J. rejects Trinitas’ application to become a Level II Trauma Center

Trinitas Regional Medical Center’s application to become a Level II Trauma Center was rejected by the state Department of Health on Friday, ROI-NJ has confirmed.

Officials at Trinitas said they are currently reviewing the seven-page rejection letter (which can be read below).

Requests for comment from the Department of Health were not immediately returned.

Trinitas, which has been in a prolonged fight to earn Level II designation, appeared to be moving in that direction in January, when its efforts received approval from the state’s health planning board.

Trinitas, which is in Elizabeth, began its latest effort to become a Level II Trauma Center in the fall of 2017, when the state asked hospitals in Union County to apply for the designation — recognizing that the county did not have a Level II center in its borders.

Trinitas CEO Gary Horan openly argued his case for the designation, citing — among other reasons — that Elizabeth is one of the 10 most violent cities in the state and Trinitas’ emergency room is one of the busiest in the state — one that handles many extreme trauma cases, such as wounds from gunshots and stabbings.

Trinitas’ application was met with opposition from officials at University Hospital in Newark, as well as Newark elected officials, who argued that granting the designation would result in a loss of business and financial harm to University Hospital.

Officials at the hospital and more than a dozen elected officials in the Newark/Essex County area sent six letters of opposition to the Department of Health last April.

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Ørsted signs agreement to support Rutgers research on offshore wind power

Ørsted U.S. Offshore Wind has signed a memorandum of understanding with Rutgers University to support academic research related to offshore wind power, the two announced this week.

The MOU was signed through Rutgers’ Corporate Engagement Center, a joint venture of the university’s Office of Research and Economic Development and the Rutgers University Foundation.

Under the agreement, Ørsted will make an initial contribution to the university, with additional funding contingent upon its being granted approval by the state Board of Public Utilities for its Ocean Wind project, which would be the state’s first offshore wind farm.

The BPU is expected to rule on the December 2018 application in the summer.

“Rutgers University is a premiere institution that can provide us with ongoing research that will help propel the New Jersey offshore wind industry forward,” Thomas Brostrøm, CEO of Ørsted, said in a prepared statement. “We are very happy to partner with them as we progress with our Ocean Wind project.”

The research being supported will be conducted at the Rutgers University Center for Ocean Observing Leadership, part of the Department of Marine and Coastal Science.

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NJDCA awards Watson Institute $155K grant to assess UEZ program

The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs announced Thursday it has awarded a $155,000 grant to The John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy at Thomas Edison State University to assess the DCA’s Urban Enterprise Zone program.

The DCA said a UEZ designation provides financial incentives to local businesses in the zone. The incentives can help drive capital improvements, business expansion and employment, and overall improve the quality of life for residents, DCA said.

The Watson Institute’s assessment will measure whether the UEZ program is a viable tool for encouraging economic development in New Jersey. The institute will also provide recommendations on the future build of the program.

“In response to the opportunity, we will focus our capabilities on a comprehensive assessment of the critical factors that impact enterprise zones,” said Barbara George Johnson, executive director of The Watson Institute, who serves as a project lead for the initiative.

“The grant will allow us to redouble our efforts in this valuable endeavor,” she said.

“I look forward to receiving the study findings from the accomplished team at the John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy,”” Tracy Fredericks, executive director of the UEZ program at the NJDCA, said. “We are optimistic that the results will provide appropriate data and a clearer picture that will help legislators decide on the direction the program should take in the future.”

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Canadian company pays $40M for Hackensack video software firm

A Canadian enterprise software company has paid $40 million for Vidyo Inc., a Hackensack-based provider of video software solutions, it announced Wednesday.

Enghouse Systems Ltd. said Vidyo has annual revenue of about $60 million and more than 1,700 customers worldwide. Vidyo offers an infrastructure software platform that supports visual communications across a variety of networks and locations, according to a news release on the deal.

“We’re excited to join Enghouse because of the great product fit and our shared vision,” Vidyo Chairman and CEO Michael Patsalos-Fox said in a prepared statement. “Enghouse gives us the opportunity to amplify our product innovation, service and support, making this a great transaction for Vidyo’s customers and partners.”

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Hispanic chamber adds Rodrigues, Pinzon, Artiles to board

The Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey has added three new members to its board, it announced Friday.

The new members include Ana Rodrigues, a vice president at Banco Popular; Cristina Pinzon, a managing principal at public relations firm Stateside Affairs; and Guillermo Artiles, a partner at law firm McCarter & English.

The new members give the board a more balanced female-to-male ratio and lower the average age, CEO and President Carlos Medina said.

“We are excited that our board has grown to its largest size in my memory — the fact that we have also been able to attract both age- and gender-diverse candidates makes me most proud. I hope more corporations will lean on the SHCCNJ to help diversify their boardroom, as well,” Medina said in a statement.

Chairman Luis De La Hoz said the new members will help continue the chamber’s mission of growing and developing New Jersey businesses.

“All three of our newest board members embody the spirit, expertise and energy needed to be at the table,” De La Hoz said. “Our commitment is to lead by example and that our leadership reflects the best of our talented men and women of our community. We are very fortunate to have them by our side as we continue to strengthen our Chamber #Familia.”

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CDI’s Perlin wins $33M grant to develop new antibiotics, as bacteria increasingly grow resistant to treatment

More than 2 million people are sickened every year in the U.S. with antibiotic-resistant infections, resulting in at least 23,000 deaths, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One of the heads of the Center for Discovery and Innovation at Hackensack Meridian Health will get a chance to change that.

Dr. David Perlin, the chief scientific officer of CDI, was awarded a $33.3 million grant by the National Institutes of Health to develop new antibiotics to overcome deadly bacteria in hospitals that have become resistant to current treatments, HMH officials announced last week.

Perlin and CDI will use the five-year grant to establish a Center of Excellence for Translational Research, a public-private partnership that brings together prominent scientists from the CDI, as well as other institutions and industry, HMH officials announced.

“We are embarking on a new era for antimicrobial discovery,” Perlin said. “By bringing together leading researchers from academia and the commercial sector in a highly interactive collaborative partnership, and providing comprehensive resources that support drug discovery, we can overcome many of the barriers that limit antibiotic development and help to reinvigorate the drug pipeline.”

In the era before antibiotics, infectious diseases were a leading cause of death worldwide, and the introduction of antibiotics in the 1940s changed the fate of countless millions. Yet, drug resistance emerged rapidly, and its steady march has led to the evolution of multidrug-resistant, or MDR, strains that can be resistant to all known antibiotics.

Health officials feel the threat to human health is profound, jeopardizing advances in modern medicine and creating a major health crisis.

Hackensack Meridian Health CEO Robert Garrett said working to solve the issues is the reason CDI was established.

“This is exactly why we created our new Center for Discovery and Innovation — to deliver tomorrow’s breakthroughs today,” he said. “We are proud to receive this record grant, which will produce new therapies to tackle drug-resistant infections and save lives.”

Dr. Andrew Pecora, chief innovation officer at Hackensack Meridian Health, agreed.

“This grant reflects the core mission of the CDI to rapidly translate scientific innovations to address critical unmet clinical needs,’’ he said.

CDI, located at the campus of the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University in Clifton and Nutley, is comprised of three areas of research: cancer and infectious disease; multiple myeloma; and regenerative medicine.

CDI officials feel Perlin — whose arrival at CDI was announced earlier this month — is the perfect choice for the grant, calling him a highly accomplished researcher and administrator who has played a major role in advancing the national research agenda to overcome drug-resistant infections.

Perlin’s primary expertise is in drug discovery, mechanisms of antifungal drug resistance and rapid diagnosis of drug resistant bacterial and fungal pathogens in cancer, transplant and other high-risk patients, CDI officials said. Perlin has published more than 250 papers and book chapters and co-authored two-books.

Senior researchers assembled by Perlin include Sean Brady, a chemical biologist at the Rockefeller University in New York City; David Alland, an infectious disease expert at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School; Thomas Dick, a drug discovery expert at the CDI; Richard Ebright, a biochemist at Rutgers’ Waksman Institute of Microbiology; and Terry Roemer, founder and chief scientific officer of Prokaryotics Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of novel antibiotic classes that target multidrug-resistant bacterial infections.

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