Rutgers University-Camden partnered with the City of Camden to develop an underutilized open space in the heart of the city into the Nursing and Science Building—an intentional step toward urban revitalization. The building has a significant impact on the urban context; provides spatial definition to the main public open space in downtown; increases pedestrian foot traffic; and encourages ongoing diversification of downtown uses.
Located off-campus, adjacent to City Hall, and on a swath of streetscape left vacant for decades, the building includes three storefronts to activate the street and provides a connection to the heavy activity generated from the Light Rail that abuts it. The design embraces this challenging context through expressive, multidimensional facades that provide scale from both near and far, showcase the activity within, and communicate the building’s role in positioning Camden as a leader in eds-and-meds.
By utilizing a punched-window aesthetic with pedestrian-level storefront and a masonry-toned, ultra-high-strength concrete cladding, the building makes a contextual statement to the north and east. To the southwest, a four-story glass façade along the building’s diagonal overlooks south Camden. By virtue of this monumental “super-window,” the facility’s internal academic functions are “on display” to the city and its occupants are constantly connected back to the urban context. In keeping with the building’s provenance, the exterior pattern’s design and interior palette take cues from DNA genotyping.
A three-dimensional sculptural object in the heart of Camden’s downtown, the building is also the single facility serving the entire Nursing student population for the duration of their academic careers. As such, the design satisfies the learning, socializing, collaboration, and study habits of students as they move through the four-year program through a varied and flexible interior environment.
After decades of significant urban blight, this building embodies the new Camden, one of renewal and vitality.