THE LAW OF ATTRACTION: 70 Hudson Street, Jersey City
Large floor plates, modern building infrastructure, public transportation and stunning waterfront views of Manhattan—all the ingredients of a perfect location for a corporate headquarters. At least that was the hope of Spear Street Capital when the firm purchased 70 Hudson Street, an office building in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 2016.
While the building, which was built in 2000, had excellent bones, Spear Street knew they needed to modernize some elements to attract new tenants. That meant identifying the assets the building already had, what kind of tenants they wanted to attract and what upgrades would help them meet their goals. With the hopes of drawing interest from large, established companies—from financial corporations to tech firms—Spear Street decided to target the area that gives everyone their first impression: the lobby.
MODERNIZE AND ACTIVATE
The team brought in Studios Architecture and Structure Tone to transform the existing lobby into the kind of modern, dynamic space that tenants would be drawn to.
“The original lobby had what I would call a traditional ‘corporate America’ kind of look,” says Joseph Durando, Structure Tone project manager. “Lots of green marble, brass and gold, woodwork…it was very nice but a bit old-fashioned.”
To modernize the space, the project team essentially updated everything the eye can see, from the flooring and wall finishes, to the furniture, to the organization of the space itself. The floors were redesigned with poured epoxy-based concrete, while the walls, ceilings and elevators were updated with intricate moulding and other millwork. All of this work was happening concurrently, making organization and communication central to the work plan.
“All the trades were working at the same time,’’ says Vincent Confreda, Structure Tone area manager. “For the floor, we had to closely manage when we do the concrete pours and where we stop so you can’t see any change in color between sections. The elevators were being modernized at the same time, too, so it was definitely tricky to coordinate all the moving parts.”
SUPPORTING THE ARTS
Perhaps the biggest challenge—and the most striking feature—of the project was the custom feature wall. Created by Ferra Designs, the wall was designed to depict the Northern Lights in grayscale, immediately drawing people’s attention and creating a distinctive talking point. The wall features a series of aluminum panels with strategically sized and placed holes and stains to achieve the artistic effect. Accordingly, the panels themselves had to be installed meticulously.
With over 50,000lbs of aluminum across the panels, structural stability was critical. The original design had transferred the structural load of the panels to the lobby floor; however, as construction began, the project team discovered the floor load was already near maximum capacity. The team went back to the drawing board to redesign the substructure, shifting the load instead to the wall substructure with additional steel supports. Every piece of steel and aluminum was not only fabricated with painstaking accuracy, but also marked with a unique identification number so it was clear where and how it should be installed.
“The team at Ferra are true artists, so the fabrication process took some time,” says Durando. “We worked very closely with them to keep up to speed on every stage and have everything ready for installation.”
The award-winning effort at 70 Hudson Street did the trick—the building is nearly completely leased. Spear Street is now working on upgrades to its sister building at 90 Hudson, including retail programming to generate foot traffic and create community around the two buildings.
“It was a pleasure to collaborate so well with all the partners on this project,” says Confreda. “With such a great space and these beautiful views, this truly is an incredible place to go to work every day.”