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On site: How the $6B American Dream was built
Construction Dive
Washington, DC, USA
Media, Construction
Jenn Goodman
Date Published: 
Retail, Malll, Meadowlands, New Jersey, American Dream, Entertainment, Amusement Park, Indoor Ski Slope, Real Estate Developmen, ETFE, Skylights, Modular Construction
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2020-07-06 18:27:00
2020-07-06 18:32:17
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Triple Five Group
Since its inception more than 20 years ago, American Dream Meadowlands has been a work in progress.

The project has outlived two developers and at least two general contractors, several lenders, the Great Recession and the rise of e-commerce, which has revolutionized the way Americans shop. First envisioned in 1996 as Meadowlands Xanadu, the concept has evolved over the last two decades to keep up with changing consumer tastes.

Under the ownership of Edmonton, Canada-based Triple Five Group, the mega mall complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey, is now coming to life in a transformation that many thought would never happen. ​

Despite the obstacles and delays, American Dream began opening in stages this fall, with a grand opening set for Spring 2020 that will make it the East Coast’s largest retail, entertainment and dining attraction. The $6 billion venue will set the pace for the future of U.S. mall development — mixing fashion, fun and food in a family-friendly, weather-controlled environment.

The complex, which is adjacent to MetLife Stadium, spans more than 3 million square feet encompassing more than 450 stores, more than 100 restaurants and 18 acres of entertainment space.

Finishing touches

During a tour of the 11-building complex last week, workers were busy putting finishing touches on most of the spaces, although the amusement park and ski slope areas have been open since October. In spite of protective floor coverings and plain gray hoarding walls, the high-end materials underneath hinted at richly outfitted interiors.

The look is more Vegas-style luxury than suburban shopping mall, including ceramic and marble tile floors and bathrooms, custom-made railings and a massive hand-blown glass and crystal chandelier. Most of the buildings feature open floor plans that benefit from plentiful natural light streaming from ceilings as high as 138 feet made from materials like Pilkington Planar glass facades, ETFE panels and glass skylights.

The project's six atriums will feature distinctive amenities ranging from an extensive garden, bird-filled aviaries, rabbit fields and programming stages.

American Dream has been a massive undertaking for PCL, one of the country's largest contractors, which has mobilized hundreds of employees from its offices across the U.S. since it joined the project in 2013.

PCL remained on as the only general contractor on the project after Whiting-Turner pulled out six years ago, and the amount of its construction contract is approaching $2 billion, according to Wayne Melnyk, PCL's vice president of major projects. Press reports also show that Skanska was the original GC for the water park.

The Canadian firm, with U.S. headquarters in Denver, has overcome various challenges at American Dream including multiple roofing re-dos, tens of millions of dollars’ worth of other change orders and enough permits and inspections to operate a small city.

Even though it is the largest project ever completed by the company's Building Division in size and budget, PCL is no stranger to mega mall construction. It collaborated with Triple Five on West Edmonton Mall in Canada in the 1980s and the Mall of America in Minnesota, which opened in 1992.

“PCL makes it look easy,” Armlin told Construction Dive. “They have so many teams and systems in place to make it go smoothly but it’s actually been very complex.”