111_Lobby.rendered.jpgKSS Architects of Princeton has provided this rendering of the second floor lobby for Express Newark.(Courtesy KSS)The office of Rutgers University Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor has released the first architects' renderings of the planned interior of Express Newark, the new academic arts center and commercial development planned for the old Hahne & Co. department store on Broad St. next to Military Park.The computer-generated images show a stripped-down space punctuated by glass curtain walls and decorated by out-sized signage and funky sculpture. (One image includes Jeff Koons's gold-chrome "Balloon Dog" filling out a two-story-tall gallery space, like the Koons "Rabbit" in the New School lobby in Manhattan.)With its simple lines and large, dramatic spaces, the design by Princeton-based KSS Architects resembles in many ways the sprawling interiors and neat minimalist articulations at Mana Contemporary, the art storage facility in Jersey City that features huge art installations and glass-walled dance studios open to the public.Like Mana, Express Newark will include a mix of public and private purposes, peppering commercial and residential spaces with academic and performance studios throughout the nearly half-million square feet of the enormous former department store.The concept is derived from an academic formulation that describes mixed-use spaces as being a "third space.""We think of any 'third space' as a physical space that conceptually does not belong to any one partner who uses that space," says Senior Vice President for Public Affairs and Chief of Staff for the Office of the Chancellor, Peter Englot. "All the work done in that space we construe as collaborative. So for example, the lead faculty member for photography, Nick Kline, will collaborate with Newark photographer Akintola Hanifto create a portrait studio inside the building, one that will take student portraits but also teach portraiture to members of the community."We like that because we think of portraiture as a powerful story-telling tool," Englot continues, "and for so long the story of Newark has been told by people from outside the city. But it has a nice historical angle, too, that you might not know about -- Harlem Renaissance photographer James Van Der Zeegot his start as an apprentice right here in the Hahne building, working in the portrait studio that was here for so many years."Much of the recent talk about Newark's real estate revival has described the city as "the new Brooklyn," with much lower costs per sq. ft. than the New York borough and a growing presence of young people and visual artists.The plan, which will likely open to the public a year from this summer, includes more than just the Rutgers academic center, which will fill some 50,000 sq. ft. on the second-to-fourth floors in the extension of the main building that fronts Halsey St. (The lobby you see above is on the second floor; with its huge basement, the building is usually considered to have five floors altogether.)There will be shopping outlets like a new Whole Foods (the first in Newark), private market rate apartments on the third and fourth floors (around the atrium near Broad St.), as well as the university's printmaking shops, galleries, and art and performance spaces. Many of the artists and arts groups that have made Newark home in the past decade or so believe the Hahne building will transform the art scene downtown, bringing a new, younger audience of students and scholars to the old cultural district."Our gallery supervisor is working with Victor Davson of Aljira in Newark to develop our arts incubator project," Englot says. "Part of the idea is to see if we can help integrate the arts into the community in a more sustainable way. Think of it as taking Alira's Emerge program and applying it as a model for a broader community of artists."If Express Newark itself has a working model, it's the Warehouse in Syracuse, an eight-story academic center in a former furniture warehouse on the edge of a once-grim post-industrial neighborhood in that Rust Belt city. Conceived by former SU architecture dean Mark Robbins and designed by SU grad Richard Gluckman, The Warehouse is now an academic center in an eight-story concrete shell that provides space for private design firms and shops, with art exhibitions that take advantage of its brutalist exterior.Since its 2006 opening, the Warehouse has helped anchor a neighborhood that has become a vibrant urban destination and fashionable residential district. In 2013, just after Cantor came to Rutgers Newark, Syracuse University named the project the Nancy Cantor Warehouse after its departing chancellor.The Hahne & Co. building at 609 Broad St. was designed in 1911 by Goldwin Starrett, who specialized in commercial palaces, like the headquarters for Manhattan's Bloomingdales, Lord & Taylor, and Saks Fifth Avenue (he also designed the 1921 American Stock Exchange). It was a popular downtown shopping center and meeting place (there were two restaurants on site) for three quarters of a century until it closed completely in 1987.The Hahne building is on a 23-acre site. Built as the flagship store for an upscale retailer in the age of department store magnates, the building is both solidly constructed and richly detailed. There's a four-story, glass-topped atrium at its center that will have its riveted steel-and-glass ceiling lowered to the top of the second floor, so that private apartments can open directly on an airy space. The luminous pre-World War I windows on the top three floors, still visible above the first-floor construction fence, give a hint of its delicate American Renaissance facade.