Dan Dowd, ASLA, PP, Barreto/Dowd | Photography by: Trampota
Barreto/Dowd was selected by Comito Associates Architects as project Landscape Architects, whose scope included hardscape, landscape and site lighting design for the new Martin Luther King Jr. Justice Building located within the Essex County Courts Complex in Newark, New Jersey. Comito Associates was the prime consultant on the project and provided architectural and engineering services.
This wasn't the first time Barreto/Dowd had delivered landscape architectural services at the courts complex. The firm had garnered a Tri-State Community Greening Award from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society for prior work on the complex's Essex County Plaza, Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza, Governor Brendan Byrne Plaza, and 13th Avenue, which was transformed to a landscaped pedestrian promenade. The society sited the project as an exceptional example of urban public spaces and a comprehensive makeover that improved access to visitors and local residents, creating attractive public open spaces in a densely developed urban neighborhood. Barreto/Dowd also received a Historic Preservation Award from the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office for the site and landscape design of the historic Essex County Court House located across the street from this project.
The landscape architecture firm's hardscape and landscape design included the area adjacent to the four sides of the new MLK Justice Building. The east side, fronting MLK Boulevard, contains the Grand Stairs, the re-designed MLK Plaza, and the entry to Legends Way/Pedestrian Promenade. The site's west side holds another plaza and service area. The site's south side includes the South Orange Avenue streetscape, and the north side comprises the re-construction of Legends Way.
Included throughout the project was 8,500 square feet of Unilock Umbriano 12" x 24" pavers with color fusion in winter marvel and French grey. Granite pavers were custom cut to match the true dimensions of the main pavers in order to maintain the designed paving patterns when both materials are combined at the West Entry Plaza. Union grey and summit black pavers were selected to complement the winter marvel hue. Union grey was also specified for the color of the barricade bollards and the granite walls' veneer. The white mountain product was featured for the grand stairs treads and risers, which were embedded with snow-melting cables to address winter maintenance. All granite was custom cut and fabricated and included the engraving of famous MLK quotes on the veneer walls and statue base.
Redoing a Legend
Along the project's north side, a pedestrian promenade, named Legends Way, was designed by Barreto/Dowd as part of an earlier project. The area's close proximity to the new building construction required removing and reconstructing a section of it. An allee of Akebono cherry trees needed to be replaced along with the brick paver promenade and bollard lighting. Thirteen thousand square feet of 4" x 8" red brick was used to be true to the original design of the pedestrian promenade: same paver size, colors, patterns and the county logo. This entailed precision-cutting and installing