May 27, 2021

After more than a decade of planning, the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation has transformed a nondescript and underutilized parking lot in downtown Newark, NJ into a lively destination for residents, nearby workers and visitors to the area.

Unveiled in 2019, the new Mulberry Commons Park consists of an active event area; a garden space with outdoor seating, a fountain and play areas; and walking paths that connect the Prudential Center arena and Newark Penn Station.

Supermass Studio was responsible for the landscape architecture and Arup oversaw civil and electrical engineering, as well as lighting design. “The goal was to encourage people to feel safe and to connect in the park—not only during the day but also at night,” says Christoph Gisel, senior lighting designer at Arup. “It was important that the lighting contribute to that feeling of safety and comfort while creating an inviting environment.”

Project in Pictures: Common Ground
Photos: Barrett Doherty

Arup selected Luminis’s Lumistik CL640 fixture for use throughout the park. The luminaire’s clean extruded aluminum base and 48-in. high column of light provides an architectural aesthetic that enhances the overall design of the public space.

Project in Pictures: Common Ground
Photos: Barrett Doherty

A total of 96 luminaires offer a dramatic presence in the overall landscape design while also reinforcing safety. “We wanted to provide more lighting than usually necessary,” Gisel adds. “At 3000K color temperature, the lighting is soft, but there is a lot of it. It is bright enough to read a book if you want to.”

Project in Pictures: Common Ground
Photos: Barrett Doherty

Through pathways, gardens and staircases, the fixture’s high-impact acrylic diffuser provides uniform 360-deg illumination. “It creates horizontal and vertical illumination on faces and feet as pedestrians move through the park,” Gisel says.

Project in Pictures: Common Ground
Photos: Barrett Doherty

The columns are intentionally placed adjacent to trees, lighting the canopy of each tree for a more dynamic effect.

Project in Pictures: Common Ground
Photos: Barrett Doherty

The lighting transforms the park into a gathering space that the community can use both day and night. “Collectively, the fixtures become part of the larger space to form a unified field of lights,” says Taewook Cha, principal and creative director at Supermass Studio. “It becomes this nice warm space that wraps around you. The transformation of the space at night is quite magical.”