Darius Sollohub, an assistant professor of architecture at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), who along with his students has worked to revitalize towns and cities across the state, was named Educator of the Year by the Northern New Jersey District Council of the Urban Land Institute.
The institute cited Sollohub for his dedication to responsible land use and for helping communities plan for smart growth.
“The award recognizes Darius for being in at the forefront of planning a better future for the residents of New Jersey,” said Richard F.X. Johnson, chairman of the Northern New Jersey District Council of the Urban Land Institute. The institute is a nonprofit group that strives to provide responsible leadership in the use of land.
Sollohub, 44, of Glen Ridge, is associate director of a master’s degree program in infrastructure planning at the New Jersey School of Architecture at NJIT. As part of the degree requirements, students in the program help redesign cities and towns in ways that reduce sprawl and pollution. Since 1999, Sollohub, along with other NJIT professors, has supervised students who have worked to suggest ways to improve Riverside, Pleasantville, Lincoln Park, Jersey City, Newark and, most recently, Paterson. Their work has ranged from devising plans to redesign main streets, to offering parking alternatives, to revamping housing stocks to promoting the growth of “transit villages” -- neighborhoods that are anchored by light rails, train stations and other forms of mass transit.
Currently, Sollohub is leading a two-year study to identify the best practices of parking management and architectural-development strategies in downtown locations, especially around train stations. His work was awarded a highly competitive matching grant from the Urban Land Institute’s national organization. The study is being conducted by a multidisciplinary team of faculty and staff from NJIT, working along with Rutgers University’s Voorhees Transportation Policy Institute and the Urban Land Institute.
In Paterson, Sollohub’s students are working on their most ambitious project, which began as a transit village study but has grown to include plans to revitalize the city’s housing, transportation and cultural assets, said Sollohub. When complete, the grant will have supported the work of six studio classes, several focus groups and community meetings as well as an important polling research by the Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University.
Sollohub’s work in Paterson has not gone unnoticed by the state. Because of Sollohub’s work, the New Jersey School of Architecture at NJIT was asked to help select a firm that, once chosen, will redesign the Great Falls State Park. The school is currently administering a design competition for the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the Department of Environmental Protection, which will award $10 million to the firm chosen to design a new 7.5 acre park. The school is helping to administer a competition and select a firm for a $10 million design-revitalization project in Trenton.
“It is part of my mission to help architecture students learn to talk to and communicate well with people who live in communities,” said Sollohub. “These projects force our students to deal directly with real people and real issues in cities and town and to devise solutions to complex urban problems. The students gain valuable experience in the complexities and benefits of urban redevelopment while providing communities with fresh perspectives on how to grow smart for a better future.”