The Wellness and Events Center is the centerpiece of the university’s $400 million campus transformation for learning and research.
New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) will host the official ribbon-cutting of the new Wellness and Events Center (WEC) on Friday, Nov. 10 at 10 a.m. on the NJIT campus.
“The WEC is an iconic, state-of-the-art and multipurpose building that provides large-scale space for professional conferencing, training and career fairs, as well as social settings for NJIT students, faculty and staff,” said Joel S. Bloom, president of NJIT. “It will be home to our Division I scholar-athletes, replacing a gymnasium that was built more than 50 years ago, and will serve as a fitness and recreational center for our campus community, NJIT alumni and friends. The WEC will be a learning, recreation and athletic destination facility in the City of Newark and for the region.”
The design of the three-story, 220,000-square-foot building features a number of flexible spaces that can be quickly configured to support the numerous and varied missions of the university community. Designed and engineered by AECOM and built by Torcon, the exterior design reinforces the university’s position as a leader in engineering and technology education, featuring a 52-foot-high glass wall on the north facade that offers an excellent view of the adjacent athletic field as well as NJIT’s academic campus.
The 3,500-seat arena exemplifies the creation of transformable venues to meet the varied programmatic needs of each event. With all of the lower bowl seats in place, it is a dynamic Division I basketball and volleyball venue. Retracting half of those seats and adding a portable stage converts it to a convocation hall. With all of the seats retracted, the large, open floor can be used for recreation/ intramural sports, large student gatherings, job fairs, alumni functions and trade shows. The main concourse also functions as a practice running track.
“I am very excited for the opening of our new Wellness and Events Center,” said Lenny Kaplan, assistant vice president of the Athletics Department at NJIT. “This facility has been in the works for quite some time as our old facility was small and outdated. The arena, surrounded by first-class amenities for all our student-athletes including spacious locker rooms, strength, rehabilitation and hydrotherapy areas, as well as plenty of meeting and gathering space will make this one of the best mid-major facilities in the region. Other great spaces including an enlarged fitness center, indoor turf area, extra basketball courts and an eight-lane pool will allow for continued growth in our intramural and recreation program which includes students, staff and alumni. On behalf of all the NJIT students, and especially our student-athletes, it’s an exciting time to be a HIGHLANDER!”
Perhaps the most unique design feature of the NJIT Wellness and Events Center is the full-height glass wall along the north façade, which provides great views of the campus and the adjacent athletic field that will be constructed in the upcoming months. The main circulation corridor in the building runs along that glass wall as it connects the central campus quadrangle to a transit station for the local light rail system. Several casual seating areas have been located along this corridor so this light-filled atrium space can also serve as an interactive social hub for students, faculty and staff. The grandstand that runs along the base of the north facade is connected to the main corridor and doubles as a casual outdoor seating area that can be utilized for study on fair weather days.
The Wellness and Events Center is located at the corner of Lock and Warren Streets, which is a gateway point to the university campus. The design of the two façades fronting that intersection reinforces NJIT’s position as a leader in engineering and technology education.
“Because the new NJIT Wellness and Event Center is located directly between a transit stop on the light rail system and the academic campus, the building will become a portal to the University for scores of students on a daily basis,” said Steve Terrill, principal, AECOM’s Americas Sports Sector. “One of the design goals for the building was to expose these students on a daily basis to the numerous recreation facilities in the hope that it would encourage them to a healthier lifestyle.”
Another flexible program space on the first floor is the large multipurpose room. With the dividing curtain open, it can host fencing meets or other large events. With the curtain closed, it can be set up for practice on one side while the other side becomes a group exercise classroom for activities such as yoga, aerobics or Pilates. Other program elements on the first floor include an eight-lane, 25-yard pool with spectator seating, general student locker rooms, a training room with three hydrotherapy pools, a strength and conditioning room and fan support spaces for the grandstand.
There are two full-length practice courts on the second floor. These two rooms also have a central dividing curtain that, when open, creates another floor space that can be utilized for science fairs or other student functions. Adjacent to the main concourse is a team store that can be open to sell Highlanders gear throughout the school year. The other major space on the second level is the recreation center, featuring cardio fitness equipment, weight stations and an incredible view across campus.
A grand staircase connects the second and third floors. At the top of the staircase is the reception desk for the administrative suite, with offices and workstations for coaches and athletics administrative staff. Adjacent to these offices are several multipurpose conference rooms, a student academic support suite, a press box for the athletic field and an ESPN production room. Additionally, there is an 11,580-square-foot turf room, two racquetball courts and a hospitality suite.