2016 MFE AwardsAdaptive Reuse: MeritBeacon CriterionEDI International
BR Criterion Urban Renewal Co., LLC Beacon Criterion

The dramatic Beacon Criterion building once housed a tuberculosis hospital within the Jersey Medical Center complex in Jersey City, N.J., for 65 years. Now, the two-winged tower with 15 stepped levels provides 247 housing units.

Project Details

Location: Jersey City, N.J.
Developer: Building and Land Technology
Architect: EDI International, PC
Builder: Terminal Construction Corporation
Opened: November 2015
Number of units: 247
Unit mix: studios, one- and two-bedrooms
Rents: $1,690 to $4,305

After many despairing years, the hospital closed its doors in 2001 and sat vacant until reconstruction began more than 10 years later. For almost two years, the building underwent extensive restoration, and the team at Stamford, Conn.–based developer Building and Land Technology and New York–based architects EDI International were able to restore 75% of the Art Deco icon.

Former patient rooms were converted into long, narrow units ranging from 696 to 1,005 square feet with multilevel ceilings and a number of windows. The team had to narrow many of the corridors to allow for wider units. But the unique design of the building’s exterior, in which each level “steps down” from the next, ensured that no two floors would be the same and provided room for terraces atop the floors below.

The team restored the brick and terra cotta on the façade of the building, as well as the marble walls and terrazzo floors in the entry lobby and corridors, and replaced the original door frames throughout the first-floor corridor. Many of the building materials and finishes used in the project were selected to mimic those in the original hospital in instances where deterioration had taken its toll. All-new windows were added to match the original, steel-slotted Campbell-style units, and the 21 restored corridors were outfitted with wainscoting to replicate the remaining original finish.

Designed as a community for millennials, the units have a large amount of open living and kitchen space, and the building’s amenities include a dog park, multiple rooftop lounges, and social events such as happy hours, movie nights, and exercise classes. The building is listed on the national and New Jersey registers of historic places.