Trenton, NJ's Brutalist buildings being torn down for surface parking


Anne LaBate


Stakeholders Allied for the Core of Trenton


Threatened, brutalism
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Update April 28, 2021 

The original title of this article was "Trenton, NJ's Brutalist buildings could be torn down for surface parking." Sadly, that titled must now be changed to are being torn down. Just as we were about to publish this, a tipster contacted us to let us know that the demolition was underway. Although it was known that the buildings were threatened, it was somewhat of a shock that it was happening so soon. Just last week, local advocates had met with with the CEO of the NJ Economic Development Authority (EDA) and the State Treasurer. The Stakeholders asked that the asbestos and hazmat abatement be continued but the demolition be stopped and the properties offered to the development community or users. The response was that it would be taken under advisement. Unfortunately, based on the photos we were sent, it seems the decision has been made. 

The immediate plan is to replace the buildings with more surface parking, which is already plentiful in the area. Stakeholders ACT hoped that the state would have learned from its past urban renewal efforts. When originally constructed in the 1960s, these state office buildings and their surrounding parking lots replaced an entire residential neighborhood. 

Stakeholders ACT are asking supporters to sign the petition, since one of the two buildings is still intact.

Continue reading the original article below for background information and photos of the buildings. We will continue to provide updates if there are any further next steps. 


Original article April 26, 2021

In 2016, then Governor Chris Christie announced a major state office construction plan that would replace three buildings, including two built for the combined use of the state’s health and agriculture departments. Local civic activists came together as Stakeholders Allied for the Core of Trenton (Stakeholders ACT), calling for a redesign of the new building plan, in the manner of 21st century development. Ideally the plan would have provided for dense, mixed use development in the core of downtown Trenton, done as a public-private partnership and generating property taxes for our struggling Capital City. 

Stakeholders ACT was unsuccessful in influencing Christie’s plan and two single-use, tax-exempt buildings were recently completed. The current administration of Governor Phil Murphy has proceeded with plans that calls for demolition of the original, now vacant health and agriculture buildings, together totaling over 200,000 SF, with no rationale provided beyond creating a future development site and providing surface parking in the interim. 

health and ag news article

The health and agriculture buildings were constructed in the early 1960’s in the Brutalist style. They comprise a six-story circular laboratory building and an eight-story cube-shaped administration building, with connecting elevated walkways and ground floor plazas.  Cited by the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office as architecturally significant and eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, they were designed by architects Alfred Clauss and Jane West Clauss, who worked with Mies Van Der Rohe and Le Corbusier, respectively. The style of these buildings makes them a distinctive part of the Trenton streetscape. In the time-honored tradition of great cities reinventing and adapting notable buildings, Stakeholds ACT seeks to save them from the planned demolition.

The “Health and Ag buildings,” as they are known, are located in Trenton’s Delaware riverfront neighborhood, which is dominated by both an urban expressway limiting river access and a concentration of single-use and tax-exempt government buildings. A master plan created thirty-plus years ago by the Duany Plater-Zyberk firm (now DPZ) calls for the replacement of the expressway with a boulevard and extensive mixed use development, adding significant residential inventory.


We are confident that, given the opportunity, the real estate development community can reimagine these buildings in a manner that will advance this longstanding plan.  The administrative office building is well-suited for residential conversion.  The circular building, if reinvented for open plan, collaborative office space, can potentially spark much needed diversification of the economy of this government center. 


Demolition to create development sites in an economically challenged city runs the very real risk of expanded surface parking continuing for decades, perhaps never to be replaced. Alternatively, creative re-use and activation of these buildings would be the first major step toward the realization of this longstanding vision. It can catalyze even more progress towards furtherance of the Trenton master plan and provide new and much needed tax revenue for the city. Their demolition would be an extraordinary missed opportunity.


We are asking for your support in a petition campaign directed to New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) CEO Tim Sullivan, asking that the buildings be offered widely to developers, and the selection based on the plan determined to be most beneficial to the City of Trenton.

For more information, visit