What began as a codeword by a few California high school students as a meet up time to smoke weed after school and search for an unattended cannabis crop, the term “420” on Thursday marks a global day of celebration for cannabis culture and law reform across the nation, including New Jersey, and a new calling for architecture, interior and graphic design firms like DIGroup Architecture to lead the way in designing special environments for dispensary, manufacturing and cultivation facilities.
Just last week, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority announced it will begin accepting applications for its cannabis equity grant program on April 20. The $10 million pilot program aims to stimulate the economy around the cannabis industry, supporting startup and operational costs to new cannabis businesses.
In the Garden State, cannabis use for medical and recreational purposes became legal in early 2021. It is one of nearly two dozen states that has fully legalized the use of marijuana, with the majority of states having decriminalized its use.
The swift changes in legislation, however, present a compelling opportunity for those in the cannabis cultivation industry. It also presents a challenge to keep pace with and have proper spaces for this newly legalized form of agriculture.
“It’s always so interesting to see how architectural needs evolve,” Vincent Myers, president of DIGroup Architecture, said. “From the industrial revolution to the boom of white-collar America, to figuring out how to repurpose office space after COVID — and now how to design for the cannabis industry. This is exactly the kind of problem-solving our team thrives on.”
East Brunswick-based DIGroup Architecture, which already has an impressive resume of delivering award-winning projects across health care, senior living, community and civic and academic sectors, is now being tapped to plan and design a facility for Blu Elements Ventures, a cannabis manufacturing and cultivation organization.
When completed, the facility will span 75,000 square feet and be among the largest new construction, indoor growing facilities in New Jersey and the first of its kind in the city of Bridgeton. DIGroup Architecture, which will serve as Architect of Record for the project, is working with the Norwood Co. to develop this design-build project.
“Adaptability in architecture and design is vital,” Myers said. “And dipping our toes in the cannabis space provides an opportunity to showcase our nimbleness, understand the needs of this burgeoning industry and implement the expertise of our team to deliver a space that satisfies the needs of the client in a sustainable, responsible, creative and effective way that serves the community — which, at the end of the day, is our ultimate goal no matter the industry.”