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An Interview with NJIT’s Vice President for Real Estate Development and Capital Operations
Note from the Managing Editor: This Q&A was produced by the Office of Strategic Initiatives to shed light on recent development plans and capital operations at NJIT.
By Andrew Christ | Guest Writer | Vice President for Real Estate Development and Capital Operations
With assistance from Jesse Jenkins | Staff Writer | Office of Strategic Initiatives
In 2014, Andrew P. Christ returned to his alma mater as NJIT’s Vice President for Real Estate Development and Capital Operations, a role where he would bring nearly two decades of experience in higher-education facilities and construction management to help oversee one of the university’s largest-ever periods of campus growth. Here, Christ discusses NJIT’s recent development plans, including the nearly $400 million invested in campus transformation since 2014.
1) You arrived at the start of an unprecedented five years of campus development. What have been your responsibilities during this time?
My role was new when I arrived in 2014. With NJIT’s 2020 Visionbeing crafted, there were major plans to expand the campus and renew existing facilities. President Bloom felt it important to have someone focused on improving and managing our facilities, capital expansion and real estate development, as well as public safety within the university. I liken running a college campus to running a little city, with all of the challenges you might expect from that role.
2) What’s been most striking about this transformative period as we reach the end of 2020 Vision?
What is amazing has been the confluence of events. For the first time since the 1980s, we had the opportunity to acquire capital funding through the State of New Jersey from the 2013 and 2015 Building our Future Bond Act, helping us make big additions like the Central King Building, the Life Science and Engineering Building, and the Wellness and Events Center (WEC). This, and our 2020 Visionstrategic plan, allowed us to focus on the physical plant of NJIT like never before.
4) What are some campus development projects you think will impact the NJIT community soon?
Currently underway is an 8,000 sq. ft. expansion of the Makerspace, which we expect by fall of 2019. We also are concluding the design process to renew an existing lab in Tiernan Hall and create a best-in-class facility dedicated to NJIT’s new forensic science program. Other renovations include lecture hall 1400 in Guttenberg Information Technologies Center and another lecture hall or two in the Mechanical Engineering Center this summer.
5) What can we look forward to regarding the multi-purpose recreational field under development outside NJIT’s WEC?
This is phase two of the WEC construction project. We’re transforming our campus green into a gentle slope, creating a new aesthetic and opening more space for diverse activities on campus. We hope for completion by summer; bringing outdoor concerts, intramural activities, and Highlander outdoor sporting events back to campus.
6) Any off-campus projects that will benefit the NJIT community?
We expect the first phase of MLK Gateway Project to begin this summer at the building that was the original Tiernan Hall and then our first business incubator, which NJIT owns at 240 Martin Luther King Blvd. This will create residential apartments, medical office space, ground floor retail and parking for residents. This is the first of many off-campus expansions to come as part of the project, which would be transformative for the neighborhood. We expect completion around summer 2020.
7) Recently, NJIT’s next development phase was announced — 2025: Building on a Strong Foundation. How will this impact campus development?
We’ve added 1,000,000 sq. ft. to campus, spending over $400 million to facilitate that. We’ll continue off-campus expansion and campus-wide investment in existing academic spaces and facilities, similar to what we are doing with Faculty Memorial Hall — preparing buildings for their next 50 years of life with today’s highest standards in technology, comfort and aesthetics. The 2018 Facilities Master Plan process completed this past year puts us on that path for the next decade, and will allow NJIT’s student body to expand from 11,600 to 15,000. Ultimately, we recognize areas for improvement, but I promise that the changes coming will make a significant difference in how we enjoy our campus experience.