FCA renovated McCarter & English’s Newark headquarters comprised of five full office floors just feet away from Newark Penn Station.
As part of a series of collaborations with leading national law firm McCarter & English, FCA renovated the company’s Newark headquarters at Four Gateway Center, comprised of five full office floors just feet away from Newark Penn Station. Completed in November 2022, FCA delivered a 110,000-square-foot, modernized workspace that celebrates over 175 years of collaboration, commitment, and innovation at McCarter & English.
McCarter & English aimed to enhance the look and feel of their existing workplace, desiring a space that reflected their dedication to a thriving company culture, legal expertise, and strong client relationships. The updated office features a subdued color palette with orange, violet, and blue accents that provide a cohesive aesthetic throughout the space, subtly reinforcing the firm’s brand image. Keeping the company’s illustrious history in mind, FCA repositioned the space with modern sensibilities while preserving a sense of formality and refinement.
The first three of McCarter’s floors (11-13) are dedicated specifically to the firm’s legal practice. Glass office fronts replaced gypsum wallboard throughout high-traffic areas, increasing access to natural light and creating an open atmosphere that fosters greater engagement between colleagues. FCA reorganized the space to provide uninterrupted sightlines, promoting connection throughout each of the practice floors in tandem with communal, open areas that encourage social interaction. To support McCarter’s shift towards increased digital documentation, FCA significantly reduced filing space and created more opportunities for dynamic office areas in its place. Updated individual offices also include new furniture, enhanced audiovisual capabilities, and lighting, as well as supplementary amenities in each elevator lobby dubbed “Recharge” that act as small cafés primed for socializing while refueling throughout the day.
The 14th floor serves as a consolidation of the firm’s previously disparate administrative departments, including Finance, IT, HR, Operations, Knowledge Management, and Marketing. This shift creates a broader sense of place and community among administrative staff. By centralizing these operational areas into a larger, more collaborative space, FCA provided the means for quick communication and coordination across all branches of the firm. The company’s primary Town Center is also featured prominently on this floor, offering additional F&B offerings to complement the varied coffee hubs throughout the office.
The 15th floor of Four Gateway Center houses gathering areas for internal meetings of all kinds. A town-hall style room, suitable for both formal and informal events, with flexible furniture accommodates dining, office-wide meetings, company events, and additional social interactions among staff. To optimize the appearance and functionality of a connecting stair, FCA opened the existing staircase by removing the original enclosure that hindered its potential in the space. This communicating stairway connects amenity areas, openly offering a secondary mode of vertical mobility between floors to promote wellness while visually connecting the office’s new social amenities. FCA also introduced a variety of informal and relaxed components with ancillary but casual furniture, in addition to standard elements of the modern workplace (quiet zones, huddle/open collaboration areas, conferencing rooms), creating a space with a modern feel that retains the firm’s professional identity.
The renovated office marries the concepts of collaborative efficiency and positive interaction into a holistic design. In collaboration with SJP Project Solutions, Robert Derector Associates Consulting Engineers, and Eremos, FCA delivered a space that honors the longstanding history of McCarter & English while providing updated work and amenity considerations that reinforce the firm’s dedication to employees and the continued, high-quality service of clients.
The FCA team conducted a series of vision, programming, and general strategy workshops with management and executive leadership at McCarter & English. Workplace management was utilized to transition staff to their new environment. Extensive furniture studies were completed for the practice and administration departments to allow for employee involvement in the design and function of the new workpoints in their space.
One main feature, linking floors 11-14, is the connecting stairwell that ties together various amenity areas. Leading from the main café to the various coffee hubs on each floor, the stairwell promotes vertical mobility and encourages activity throughout the building.
“Recharge” areas in each elevator lobby, aimed at increasing interaction, act as small cafés to energize throughout the workday.
Two dual-purpose restorative lounges/wellness rooms for mothers offer additional space to relax and recharge away from workspaces.
One of the most notable features is the prominent town hall, offering adjustable furniture to accommodate a multitude of purposes, including dining and celebratory events, office-wide meetings, conferences, and other company gatherings.
An exceedingly unique aspect of the space, especially considering the nature of law office work, were the design considerations to support McCarter’s shift towards digital documentation. To this end, FCA reduced the amount of filing space significantly, which allowed for additional opportunities for shifting layouts.
Overall Project Results
FCA strives to push its clients outside of their comfort zone and provide the best space to fit their needs as discovered and discussed during the visioning, planning, and programming processes. During these processes FCA recommended access to natural light to interior spaces which was contrary to McCarter’s previous traditional office layout. Managing client apprehension regarding such a large change can be a struggle but, in the end, the client is thrilled with the openness of the space and may implement it in further renovations.
Key project collaborators included SJP Project Solutions (who acted as both the project’s construction manager & general contractor), Robert Derector Associates Consulting Engineers (who provided MEP Engineering services), O’Donnell & Naccarato (who acted as structural consultants throughout the project), and Eremos (who handled acoustic considerations). Teknion and Officeworks handled furniture.