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CoAD Library Awarded Grant to Develop Archive of Newark Architecture

NJIT’s Barbara and Leonard Littman Architecture and Design Library was awarded a $13,500 state grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission (NJHC) to further develop the Digital Archive of Newark Architecture.

The initiative to document the physical life of New Jersey’s largest city (and one of the oldest towns in America) was established in 2009 to improve public access to a variety of materials and create a digital archive of architectural projects in Newark.

“Newark’s architecture is closely woven into its rich history,” says Maya Gervits, director of the Barbara & Leonard Littman Library. “What started as a small village—by the middle of the 19th century—was the nation's largest industrial center. The first three decades of the 20th century marked a period of immense economic growth, resulted in the population expansion and active development of infrastructure and architecture.”

The archives will contain both past and present projects, including old, new and renovated buildings, parks, outdoor sculptures, drawings and old photographs.

Completion of the project is designed to coincide with the 350th anniversary of the founding of Newark in 2016.

With the help of the NJHC grant, the library will improve search capabilities of the archive to make its materials more widely accessible, facilitating their innovative and creative use while helping to develop new ways of envisioning the built environment of Newark.

“Many notable architects have contributed their work to Newark's prominence," says Gervits. “Unfortunately, the availability to the publication of Newark architecture is rather limited compared to those on other cities of the same age and scale.”

While the primary sources are scattered throughout various collections, Gervits says, in research, access to materials in multiple formats, both current and historical, is particularly critical.

“Our goal is to virtually bring together materials in a variety of formats from different collections and employ technology to support research and education,” she adds. “The NJHC grant will help us to make the archive's materials available to a wider audience and make it the comprehensive interactive resource for all researchers who have an interest in the architecture and built environment of the city of Newark."

If anyone is interested in contributing materials to the archive, please contact Maya Gervits (maya.gervits@njit.edu) or Monica Kenzie (kenzie@njit.edu).

By Shydale James
sjames@njit.edu