Central King Gets a Face Lift

NJIT's Central King Building

NJIT’s Central King Building is undergoing a transformation. Funded in part by grants from the State of New Jersey after the passage of the $750-million higher education bond act, the former Central High School is now in the second phase of the renovation and reconstruction project designed to re-create the facility as a hub for education and research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The plan for the facility is to preserve and restore the historic elements of the century-old building while equipping it with cutting-edge technology, a variety of teaching and learning environments that reflect the most current trends in higher education, and state of the art research laboratories. The seven-story structure, built in 1911, was designed by Newark architect Ernest F. Guilbert and architecturally categorized as “Collegiate Gothic.”The renovation project will maintain the architectural elements that make the building a Newark and New Jersey landmark – for instance, the “teacher” gargoyles that line the roofline.

The restored Central King Building will provide a critical anchor for community redevelopment in Newark by transforming the building into a visual landmark and an educational destination. CBK is a rare example of major higher education project serve a city as visual urban redevelopment. The project hopes to restore CKB as an important architectural feature of Newark’s historic Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, formerly High Street. At the same time, the project will contribute to the educational facilities of NJIT and transform an uninviting urban corner into a highly visible example of educational innovation and excellence. The large open spaces on the street and lower levels of this massive building will be a place to observe the “ecosystem” of innovation and invention in science and technology.

But the university’s main goal is to transform CKB into a state-of-the-art STEM teaching and learning hub and provide technological resources to underpin important university programs in research, instructional, and academic support. The facilities will be critical to achieving the education, research, enrollment and graduation goals of NJIT.   

The technology infrastructure in this proposal includes several new “collaborative learning” spaces as described in the NJIT Technology Plan.  These flexible learning environments allow for traditional lecture, but then to quickly “flip the classroom” where students can work on small projects in small groups.   Technology in the room will allow for sharing interim results for group work on display panels on the walls of the classroom.  Mobile network access brings in results from the NJIT Cloud, other New Jersey institutions via NJEdge.net, and beyond. 

The main elements to be housed in the Central King Building are:

The Center for Innovation and Discovery, designed to support innovative learning programs, to stimulate the exchange of ideas and apply emerging knowledge through hands-on laboratories, design and modeling studios, and interdisciplinary projects for grades 4 through 18. The existing auditorium will become a well-equipped space for hosting lectures, presentations and the exchange of ideas, and the upper three floors will serve academic and research functions with state-of-the-art classrooms, well-equipped instructional laboratories, and sophisticated research areas. The auditorium will become the “idea center,” capable of streaming high-technology large video presentations of research seminars across the NJIT campus and other venues of research accessible to a sizable portion of the student, faculty, and local communities
The Biological Sciences Education and Research Center, which will bring together researchers and students from biology, biomedical engineering, pharmaceutical chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics, and mathematical biology. The university believes that a facility of this type is critical to the state’s Bio/Pharma and Life Sciences industry cluster. The synergy and collaboration that take place in this center will produce stunning innovations at the interface of biological sciences and engineering.
Teaching and Learning centers that would be housed in the Central King Building include a Teaching Effectiveness Institute, Math Engagement Center, a Composition Engagement Center, and centers for advising and pre-professional mentoring. These centers will make use of best practices and pedagogy of hands-on, project-based learning, including teams of students and faculty working on solutions to real-world problems.