Audible, joined by the Greater Newark Conservancy, today launched the Sensory Lab, a multisensory outdoor installation in Washington Park that aims to encourage the use of the park by the community throughout the 2019 outdoor season. Audible staff and employees from the Greater Newark Conservancy helped assemble the park installation, which includes new seating areas, planters, tables and solar lighting. To reinforce the installation’s impact, Audible and other local stakeholders are creating a number of unique events to be held at Washington Park over the next few months including movie nights, fitness classes, concerts, and more.
The Washington Park Sensory Lab is the latest effort by Audible to invest in Newark’s renaissance and its sustainable success. The installation curates a sensory experience that invites both local residents and passersby to slow down, spend time in the park and interact with the new landscape. The launch comes two weeks after the opening of Audible’s Innovation Cathedral, a rehabilitated 80,000-square-foot historic church that is now home to 400 technologists, designers and other employees.
“Washington Park is the perfect place to enjoy summer in the heart of Newark’s innovation corridor,” said Audible Chief People Officer Anne Erni. “It’s our hope that the installation of the Sensory Lab and the launching of summer programming will offer relaxation and entertainment for the entire community, during the summer months and beyond. Audible is a better place to work because we’re rooted in Newark, and continuing to invest in our city and support its comeback is as important as anything else we do.”
“The installation of the Sensory Lab brings new life and vitality to Washington Park and we look forward to working together to ensure the best experience for all that visit the park,” said Patrick Council, City of Newark Director of Recreation, Cultural Affairs and Senior Services.
"Greater Newark Conservancy believes in the transformative powers of nature and the installation of the sensory lab not only beautifies Washington Park but encourages visitors to the park to relax and take a moment to de-stress and literally smell the flowers," said Robin L. Dougherty, Greater Newark Conservancy Executive Director.
“We are fortunate that Washington Park is directly across from the Library and the Sensory Lab is a wonderful upgrade to Washington Park,” said Jeffrey Trzeciak, Director of The Newark Public Library. “The addition of creative seating and planters will undoubtedly improve the aesthetics of the park while allowing community members and patrons to enjoy the redesigned space.”
“The installation of the Sensory Lab is profoundly important,” said Rutgers University-Newark Senior Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs and Chief of Staff Peter Englot. “This will catalyze activity by students, faculty, staff, and visitors, providing infrastructure that the university and other neighbors can leverage for programming that will help more Newarkers enjoy the park in ways they haven’t been able to before.”
More than one hundred employees took part in today’s installation. Audible participants volunteered in two-hour shifts, unloading and placing the seating and planter modules throughout the park. The Greater Newark Conservancy sourced plants and led volunteers in preparing and planting the greenery in the planters. Harvest Table, an Audible Lunch Out Wednesday participant, provided refreshments for the event.
In late June, Audible, in conjunction with the Newark Museum, Newark Public Library, Rutgers-Newark, NJPAC, YMCA of Newark, the Newark Downtown District, L+M Development, Connect | Engage | Entertain | Network (CEEN), North Star schools, Berkeley College and Halsey Street businesses, will launch summer programming in Washington Park.
Since moving its headquarters to Newark in 2007, Audible has become the city’s fastest-growing private employer.
The company has made it its mission to catalyze Newark’s turnaround, offering jobs and training programs to Newark residents–including some who were formerly homeless–as well as providing housing subsidies to employees who choose to live local.
In 2015, Audible founder and CEO Don Katz founded Newark Venture Partners, a $45 million venture capital fund and accelerator that has invested in 60 early-stage companies to plant roots in Newark. Hundreds of Audible employees are on call to mentor these startups, also located in Audible’s One Washington Park headquarters.
Audible also provides paid internships and college scholarships to Newark students.