Martin Luther King, Jr. Justice Building
Yajaida Pacheco

Building a Monument for Justice with Sustainable MCM

ALPOLIC® | Metal Composites Materials as Exterior Cladding

Celebrating an icon of liberty and unification, the Essex County Justice Building is a testament to the legacy of the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Jr. A place for the community to come together, the design of the building needed to be both functional and inspirational. Custom ALPOLIC metal composite materials elegantly frame the ethereal glass, precast concrete, and limestone facade rising from the courthouse steps. It was a successful project facilitated by material distributor Wieland.

When county executives in Newark, New Jersey came together during the planning and construction of their new justice building, they agreed easily on the question of whose name should grace the facility. The $77-million, 160,000-square foot project, completed in 2021, sits close to a plaza dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr. According to Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr., the connection between the renowned civil rights leader and the municipal building was a “natural fit.”

photo_credit Yajaida Pacheco
Yajaida Pacheco

Defining Design Harmony
Designed by Newark-based firm Comito Associates, The Martin Luther King, Jr. Justice Building houses more than 10 state courtrooms and office and administrative spaces for various county departments. A pedestrian bridge connects the building to the county’s Hall of Records. Memorials outside and within the building include a bronze statue sculpted by Oregon artist Jay Warren, a video wall, and a mural depicting key moments in King, Jr.’s life.

Harmony with existing county buildings, in terms of color palettes and structure, loomed topmost in the design team’s mind. As the first new construction in the area in half a century, it was important for the justice building to align with its counterparts. In specifying materials, ALPOLIC MCM were a practical choice not only for their ease of fabrication to allow for cohesiveness in design but for their color matching abilities. ALPOLIC Diamond Dealer Wieland arranged for the fabrication of 19,000 square feet of a custom color, matching the limestone of adjacent buildings, for the extensive envelope.

photo_credit Yajaida Pacheco
Yajaida Pacheco

Defining Relationships in the Design/Build Process
When it comes to the building process, the distributor is an often overlooked but key piece of a project’s success. Distributors support the process by bridging the gap between material manufacturers and customers, providing technical insight, and more. Despite the added challenges of the pandemic, the Justice Building project was completed without time loss in 13 months due to the successful collaboration of construction partners like Wieland.

As a distributor, Wieland’s involvement in securing the right materials for the Justice Building helped with the timely completion of the project. “Our organizations share the same commitments to service and environmental sustainability that make Wieland a proud distributor of ALPOLIC materials,” says Robert Todd, regional sales manager for Wieland.

Drawing on the architectural expertise of a distributor can also offer extended benefits to a customer. A distributor can provide increased buying power, giving the customer an opportunity to purchase all project materials in one place. “We can also offer stock and release programs which help to eliminate hold-ups on jobs due to gaps in material availability,” adds Todd.

photo_credit Yajaida Pacheco
Yajaida Pacheco

Forging Partnerships for Building Success
The high-quality products offered by ALPOLIC, along with their industry-leading and world-renowned reputation, were key factors in Wieland’s decision to develop a partnership. “Our longstanding relationship with ALPOLIC serves as an added benefit to our customers—especially those who are new to the world of MCM,” says Todd. For Comito Associates, the partnership also proved beneficial. The Essex County Justice Building received the Engineering News Record's award for Best Government and Public Building Project of the Year in 2021, in the New York Regional category.

photo_credit Yajaida Pacheco
Yajaida Pacheco
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