Historically, Hoboken’s residential structures were typically built as wood frame buildings and only one lot at a time. They were usually brownstones or six to eight family walk-up row houses up to four to five stories tall. In the 1980’s when developers rediscovered Hoboken, new multi-family structures took on the form of larger mid-rise elevator buildings which occupied multiple lots. A new Hoboken model was needed.
“What we have in Hoboken is a city with a clear identity. This should be considered in starting any new building design. I try to include the best aspects of the area’s design in designing my buildings. They are meant to blend into the environment, not stand apart, thus keeping the continuity.” said architect Dean Marchetto. In 1982, Marchetto designed 151 Second Street by incorporating modern interpretations of traditional architectural details in order to contextually fit the new larger building into the existing neighborhood of smaller and narrower row houses and walk-ups.
One of those new modern details was the modulation of the exterior brick facade. The alternating brick panels provide a rhythm that manipulated the perception of scale to reflect the narrow single lot buildings.
Another modernized detail was the projecting rooftop cornice. This reinterpreted cornice became a rectilinear abstraction of the more ornate traditional cornices. The traditional angled bay windows common in many of the older tenements were also examined. Projecting box bay windows became another revitalized architectural detail that entered most of Marchetto’s designs. Today, each new infill multi-family design and the details applied to their facades reflect the considerate design and scale of the older narrower buildings.
These details were repeated over and over again by MHS Architects and soon other architects followed suit and began incorporating these principles into their designs. The variety of different materials, brickwork patterns, colors, and technologies drives creativity and diversity. By respecting historical design, scale, and existing identity a new architectural vocabulary for Hoboken has been cultivated which aided in Hoboken’s incredible rebirth from the days of decay and decline to its success as New Jersey’s hottest comeback city.