The façade of the East Building was transformed into a hospital. And the campus pub turned into a cafeteria.
“The Sopranos” visited the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) campus last week - not to brush up on their engineering - but to film a few scenes for a spring 2006 episode.
Actors and camera technicians from the award-winning HBO television series spent the entire day on the campus, setting up and filming scenes of the Soprano family visiting the mock NJIT set.
A crowd of more than 100 people mingled in the NJIT piazza, watching intently as the cameras rolled and lights blazed. Susan Rubin, of Livingston, director of Gourmet Dining Services at NJIT, was in the crowd. Rubin, an avid Sopranos fan, was elated to see her favorite show being filmed at her place of employment.
“NJIT’s new campus center is incredibly beautiful,” Rubin said as she stood in the piazza, watching the actors. “A lot of people who watch ‘The Sopranos’ can’t wait to see which buildings from Essex County are used in the show. ‘The Sopranos’ coming here to film is a big deal and will put NJIT on the map.”
Mary Barton, of E. Orange, a cashier for Gourmet Dining Services, sat outside on a bench, watching with glee as the filming proceeded. Barton hoped to be noticed by the director and used as an extra on the set. That didn’t happen, but Barton was happy enough just to observe.
“NJIT’s new expansion is very beautiful – that’s why they came here,” Barton said. “I’m proud of that.”
Barton’s comment was on point.
In the fall, NJIT completed a three-year, $83.5-million campus makeover. Two tall multi-story buildings, a sky bridge, 55-foot clock tower, European-style piazza and spacious outdoor rooftop terrace are the key elements of a complex surrounding the campus center. A glass sky bridge connects the center’s third floor to its sister building, a six-story, block-long structure. Together the structures offer 375,000 square feet of new and rehabilitated space. The new meet-and-greet spot, a 12,000 square-foot expanse of pre-cast concrete pavers and plantings, called a piazza, connects them. “The Sopranos” filmed the first scene of the day in the piazza.
They filmed a second scene in the NJIT pub, on the third floor of the campus center. The pub was turned into a cafeteria counter brimming over with sandwiches, bagels, muffins and pies.
“Isn’t it incredible?” asked Rubin, the dining director, as she surveyed the transition. “It looks just like a cafeteria.”
In September 2004, “The Sopranos” led all HBO programs with four Emmys® -- the most of any drama series. In addition to James Gandolfini (Lead Actor in a Drama Series) and Edie Falco (Lead Actress in a Drama Series), the show won in the categories of Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Joe Pantoliano) and Writing for a Drama Series (David Chase, Robin Green, Mitchell Burgess). The show has also won five Golden Globe® Awards, including the award in the Best Television Series - Drama category in 2000.
NJIT is one of the nation’s most diverse universities. Black Issues in Higher Education ranks NJIT among the nation’s leading schools for graduating minority students. In 2004, NJIT was named 16th in the U.S. for conferring engineering baccalaureates to African-American students and 11th in the U.S. for conferring them to Hispanic students.
NJIT supports one of the nation’s fastest-growing research programs with doctoral degrees conferred to date to upon nearly 700 graduates. Research expenditures exceed $70 million annually, funding has grown 355 percent since 1991 and the American Association of University Professors classifies NJIT as a “Category 1” university. Such institutions offer a significant level and breadth of activity in and commitment to doctoral-level education as measured by the number of doctorates awarded annually and the diversity of doctoral-level degree programs.
Although more than 1,700 NJIT students live in NJIT’s six modern residence halls located a block from the city subway and a mile from Penn Station, almost 7,000 students commute. The university’s commitment to e-learning eases that challenge. A recent U.S. News survey of 152 online programs placed NJIT 7th in the U.S. and second among public universities in eLearning enrollments among online graduate degree programs in the U.S.