The Architect’s Newspaper

Ennead Architects unveils The Cove, a sprawling Jersey City “supercluster”

aerial view of a cluster of planned building opposite the manhattan skyline

Designed by Ennead Architects, the mixed-use, life science-centered Cove is set to transform a blighted stretch of industrial Jersey City riverfront. (Ennead Architects)

Now that the $10 million first phase of environmental remediation work at an 18-acre brownfield nestled next to the New Jersey Turnpike is complete, the massive project slated for the site has been formally unveiled. Yesterday, plans for The Cove were revealed by its developers, proposed to rise around the creek that bisects the site.

aerial view of a cluster of planned building opposite the manhattan skyline

In a press release announcing the “launch” of the chugging-along, ground-up Jersey City development project headed by New York-based Argent Ventures and Toronto’s H&R REIT, The Cove is referred to as a “high-design campus,” an “interconnected smart city hub,” a “transformative next generation mixed-use environment,” and a “super-connected live-work-play supercluster.” Essentially, the $3 billion development will form a sprawling life science, tech, and medicine complex interspersed with swaths of parkland, flanked on the south and east by residential buildings including two soaring high-rises. The development site is situated directly next to Liberty State Park (and, as mentioned, the Jersey Turnpike) at the end of the “little” Morris Canal Basin just south of downtown Jersey City.

The 13-acre Cove Campus will be wrapped in greenery from its rooftops to its waterfront park. (Ennead Architects)

The Cove campus, designed by New York-based Ennead Architects, will be realized in two stages, with the first anticipated to break ground in 2022. That phase will see the construction of two academic/laboratory/teaching facilities; one a seven-story affair that will be “comprised of a spectrum of life science and teaching uses,” per the developers, with “laboratory/office space for companies at all stages of growth, a state-of-the-art digital conference center, a convergence cafe, and core facilities designed for biomedical engineering, clinical drug discovery and other translational uses.” Also set to be constructed during the first phase is a commercial life science building with ground-level retail, a publicly accessible 3.5-acre waterfront park, and some residential development.

Filling in the northern and eastern sections of The Cove, phase two will consist of two additional commercial laboratory and office buildings totaling 596,000 square feet along with more residential development. When the project is wholly completed, this once wildly polluted riverfront parcel will be home to 1.4 million square feet of lab and tech office space and 1.6 million square feet of new residential development. Nancy J Kelley + Associates is heading marketing and leasing for the project.

North-South section illustration of The Cove. (Ennead Architects)

As called out in press materials, there’s also ample room for parking (it’s New Jersey, after all), but that seems to be a secondary selling point as The Cove will enjoy close proximity to the PATH train and light rail—both are an under ten-minute walk—as well as access to ferries and cycling paths. In addition to leaning heavily on public transportation and the future proliferation of electric vehicles, The Cove takes a holistic approach to sustainability. It could potentially benefit from a site-wide heating and cooling system powered by “combustion-free heat exchange technology that extracts energy from municipal wastewater” that would, if realized, be one of the “first regenerative state-of-the-art carbon neutral neighborhoods,” according to developers. Solar panels and other renewable energy sources are also being considered. All of the buildings—commercial, academic, and residential—will be built to meet WELL Building Standard certification.

As noted by the developers, the waterfront campus, “designed to leverage reclamation, renewal, and resiliency,” will be populated by “lush greenery and vertical gardens, eye-catching biophilic design pieces, event spaces, and terraces.” Following full environmental remediation, which is a core component of the project, The Cove will be home to a water-filtering, shoreline-protecting restored wetland habitat complete with an “eco-education loop” that links to the 1.5-mile-long Hudson River Waterfront Walkway.

(Ennead Architects)

If The Cove’s hyper-focus on life science and tech seems random, it’s not. In recent years, Jersey City has evolved as a fast-growing hotspot along the larger East Coast life science/tech corridor, enjoying proximity to leading academic institutions, research facilities, and major hospitals in two states as well as New Jersey’s many, many pharmaceutical campuses. (There’s a good reason why the Garden State is known as the Medicine Chest of the World.)

“We have worked to establish Jersey City as a sought-after destination for innovation, science and technology, igniting an untapped economic engine that is attracting jobs and countless other opportunities for our community,” said Jersey City Mayor Steven M. Fulop in a statement. “The Cove is an exciting addition to Jersey City on this front, and, coupled with neighboring SciTech Scity [an under-development science and tech hub realized in partnership between the City of Jersey City and Liberty Science Center], will further strengthen Jersey City and the entire State of New Jersey as a leader in scientific and technological innovation.”

In an early incarnation circa 2017, The Cove was known as the Crescent Park and the project was led by private equity firm Quadrum Global with Argent. Studio V and Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates had been tapped to design the earlier development. Quadrum later exited and Ennead Architects was brought on to redesign the project. Per Jersey Digs, multiple land use permits for the site are expected to be submitted to New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection in the coming weeks, and approvals from Jersey City’s planning board are also still needed.