Former NJIT Student Senate President Baker Assaf begins pulling down the red fabric to unveil the new panels.
“The Student Senate leadership and the constituents we represent wanted this because we have a large population of students, faculty and visitors using the light rail on a daily basis.”
A few tugs on red cloth, a round of applause and 48 linear feet of custom mural was unveiled yesterday morning at the newly-named NJ Transit Warren St/NJIT light rail station.Fabricated from a special laminate, the artwork celebrates the dramatic connection between NJIT and its Newark neighbors. The station facelift concludes four years of work for the NJIT Student Senate, especially former Senate President Baker Assaf and current Senate President Dominick Cirillo.
The two ceaselessly rallied students to champion and support a plan to beautify the station’s walls with custom contemporary murals depicting the university and city. Eventually $40,000 of student money funded the project. The effort came to a satisfying conclusion yesterday morning as student presidents and senators positioned on either sides of the track pulled down fabric to the count of three to unveil the splendid new addition.
“The Student Senate leadership and the constituents we represent wanted this because we have a large population of students, faculty and visitors using the light rail on a daily basis,” said Cirillo. “Whether students are coming to or leaving school, riding to work, or even just going downtown to hang out, they wanted something more appealing. They wanted a station that felt more like their own, with more visual appeal. They also wanted to please the Greater Newark community.” The enhancements include the NJIT signage on both platforms detailing NJIT’s historic engagement with Newark plus assets of New Jersey’s science and technology university.
NJIT President Robert A. Altenkirch opened the short trackside ceremony, asking for a round of applause for the student leaders. NJ Transit Executive Director James Weinstein spoke next, pointing out that any time NJ Transit can interact with a community by opening such a community resource, it’s a great accomplishment for all. “This is fun. This is what it’s about,” he added. Assaf described the welcoming attitude from NJ Transit which enabled the students to launch and complete the project, adding that along the way they learned that patience and persistence matter.
Students began the project working with NJIT and New Jersey Transit administrators and the state’s Historic Preservation Office, to create a more distinguished rail stop that clearly announced one’s arrival. The agreement also changed the station’s identity to the “Warren Street/NJIT Station.” The idea was to enhance the environment both for students and Newark residents.
The upshot was the unveiling of two, five-foot-tall by twenty-four-foot long murals featuring exciting new and old photographs and stories of life at NJIT and in Newark. CN Communications, Newark, created the artwork and coordinated fabrication and installation of the panels by Applied Image, Freehold.
Two distinct but visually complementary designs were developed for the two different sides of the station. For the inbound platform (to Newark Penn Station), where transit users (students, visitors, etc.) often spend more time waiting for an incoming train, an information-rich design was developed. For the outbound platform side (coming from Newark Penn Station), where passengers quickly disembark and immediately leave the station platform, a solution using less text and larger visuals was designed to convey information more quickly to people on the move.
Most notable to viewers are the graphics which boldly identify the Warren Street/NJIT Station with the university and provide subway users with high-impact image- and text-based information. Care was taken to avoid a visual style that was too antique or historical. The creative concepts addressed history (touching on the city and neighborhood transportation system as well as the university), education, research, and campus life.
Assaf, an NJIT Albert Dorman Honors College student, who graduated from NJIT Newark College of Engineering with a degree in electrical engineering, works now in a sales position in New York City for ASCO Power Technologies, a division of Emerson Electric Co (NYSE: EMR). He is currently a part-time student at Fordham University studying for his MBA and is also an active board member of the NJIT Alumni Association. He was president of the NJIT Student Senate from 2007-2009.
Cirillo, also enrolled in the Honors College, is majoring in business at the NJIT School of Management. “My diverse academic background,” he said, “has provided many options. I hope to pursue a career in business utilizing my analytical and managerial skills.”