Call Detail
Mercer County Courthouse Public Art Project
640 South Broad Street, PO Box 8068
Trenton, New Jersey 08650

Contact Email:
Call Type: Public Art
Eligibility: Local
State: New Jersey
Entry Deadline: 1/10/18
Application Closed
Images - Minimum: 8, Maximum: 15
Total Media - Minimum: 8, Maximum: 15

Mercer County Courthouse Public Art Project 

Submission Deadline:                                              1/10/2018

** Info Session for Phase 2/RFP, if requested:           week of 2/19/2018

The County of Mercer, New Jersey, is issuing a Request for Qualifications (Phase 1), inviting artists/artist teams who wish to be considered to submit their interest and qualifications for the creation of a series of five permanent decorative plaques/reliefs. These reliefs are to be installed on an exterior wall (located on South Warren Street, Trenton, NJ) of the Mercer County Courthouse. This project is known as the Mercer County Courthouse Public Art Project, and this document is a Request for Qualifications (RFQ).

Qualification submittals will be evaluated by the Mercer County Courthouse Public Art Committee (MCCPA) who will review all submissions and will invite up to five qualified candidates to submit a full proposal for the design and fabrication of the five decorative relief elements. It is expected that installation of the completed relief elements will take place sometime in late summer/fall, 2018.  

The Project

Five decorative elements are sought for the exterior of the new Mercer County Courthouse (opened 2013). Specifically, artwork is sought that will reflect the rich history of Mercer County, the city of Trenton, and/or the County Court system.

The five elements are to be sited within five (5), 4' tall x 8' wide, existing recessed panels (depth of 4”) in the exterior wall of the Courthouse (to the left of the Courthouse's main entrance) on South Warren Street. Sculptors, artists or artist teams are invited to submit their professional and artistic qualifications for a public art project of this type, and an expression of interest in being considered for this project. 

Those finalists selected by the Committee to submit a full proposal for the project will be expected to incorporate, in some way, the unique historic characteristics of the Mercer County justice system, the County of Mercer, and/or the City of Trenton in their final design. Materials used must be weather resistant and the final artwork must be prepared to be readily mounted to CMU block. The total project budget, including installation costs, is $74,000.


This RFQ is open to professional, practicing artists and artist teams living or working within a 50 mile radius of the greater Mercer County, New Jersey, region. Artists with positive public art installation experiences and/or who have partnered with architects in art installation are strongly preferred. Finalists invited to develop full proposals will be required to be registered as a vendor with the County and must agree to comply with non-discrimination provisions and all other laws and regulations applicable to the performance of services there under. The final contract entered into between the artist/contractor and the County must be in accordance with, and subject to, compliance by both parties with the New Jersey Local Public Contracts Law.


The elegant new Mercer County Courthouse building, located between Broad and Warren Streets in the heart of Trenton, New Jersey, is the latest home for a justice system that dates back to the late 1600s. Both the host County (Mercer) and the city of Trenton, where the Courthouse is located, are steeped in history; the County justice system itself, also traces its roots to the nation's infancy. The City of Trenton originally served as the seat of Hunterdon County government from 1714 until 1791 (Mercer was not formed as a separate County until 1838).

The first Hunterdon County Court House, built sometime between 1720 and 1730, was located just up the street from the present-day Courthouse, on the east side of Warren Street between State and Front Streets. That courthouse was witness to many significant events, particularly during the Revolutionary War era. It was one of only three locations in the thirteen original colonies where the Declaration of Independence was first publicly read on Monday, July 8, 1776.

The first Mercer County Courthouse was built on the corner of Market and Broad Streets in 1839, the year after the new County was formed. In 1852, renowned statesman Daniel Webster argued the Goodyear vs. Day patent case there, winning the case for Goodyear, creating a tremendous impetus in Mercer County for the local rubber industry. In 1902 this original Mercer County Courthouse was knocked down and replaced by the dramatic Beaux Arts building (still standing on the corner of Market and Broad Streets) designed by architect William Slack and built by Lewis Lawton. The new Courthouse is adjacent to this older building.

Siting for Artwork: 

This Artwork will be displayed on one of the street level, main walls of Mercer County's Superior Courthouse located at 400 South Warren Street in Trenton, NJ. This Courthouse hears all Mercer County criminal cases for indictable-level offenses. It also houses the county's Central Intake Unit and Adult Drug Court Program.

The art elements are to be installed in five recessed panels located in the South Warren Street (Trenton, NJ) wall to the left of the Mercer County Courthouse’s main entrance. This is a highly visible and prestigious site for public art, located on a major access road in the State’s capital, with maximum public visibility. The wall is constructed from CMU block. The recessed panels currently have a temporary stucco finish that can be scraped off prior to the mounting of the artwork on the blocks. Each of the recessed panels measures 4’ (high) x 8’ (wide) and is recessed to a depth of 4”.

Project Budget: 

A maximum budget of $74,000 is allocated for this project. Those funds shall be used for the design, materials, fabrication, transportation, insurance and installation costs for the art, as well as the artist’s compensation (including any travel expenses, etc.).

RFQ Process: 

Responses to this RFQ must be submitted online using the Call For Entries (CaFE) artist site. (See submission requirements, below.) The Mercer County Courthouse Public Art Committee (MCCPA) comprised of a public art expert, arts administrator, regional historian, and key stakeholders from the County and the Judiciary will review the qualifications submitted, and will invite up to five (5) artists or artist teams to prepare and submit a full proposal. Those artists (or artist teams) invited to proceed to Phase 2, who agree to develop a full proposal under the terms of a subsequent RFP for this project, will receive a $200 stipend.  

Project Timeline (dates are subject to change):

Deadline for response to Phase 1/RFQ:             January 10, 2018

Selected artists notified:                                  week of 1/29/2018

Site visit/Q&A session at Courthouse:               TBA week of 2/19/2018

Phase 2/RFP concept presentations made:        March, 2018

Final artist selection announced:                      March/April, 2018

Contract executed/Project start date:               April, 2018

Project installation/work completed:                 2018 as scheduled by  

Overview: This project is supported with funding from the Mercer County Improvement Agency and is being administered by the Mercer County Division of Culture & Heritage on behalf of County Executive Brian M. Hughes and the Mercer County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

This project provides an opportunity for an artist or artist team to create five public art pieces to be installed on the exterior wall of the new Mercer County Courthouse building on South Warren Street in Trenton, NJ. The artist/artist team with the winning design will receive monetary compensation (as established in their contract with the County), will be featured in an edition of the Culture & Heritage newsletter, will be presented in a Press Release by the County Communications Office, and will have the opportunity to address their work, if they choose, at a Mercer County Freeholder meeting.

To Apply:

All application materials in response to this RFQ must be submitted online via the CaFE (“Call for Entry”) website at by January 10, 2018. Collaborative applications from artists working together as a team are welcome.

Submission Requirements:

Application materials for this preliminary Phase 1/Request for Qualifications (RFQ) must include:

  1. Brief letter of interest (please be sure to identify/list any public art or relevant architectural projects in which you have participated)

  2. Artist bio

  3. Artist resume/CV

  4. Narrative project proposal (2-page maximum, 1 inch margins, 12 point font)

  5. 8 – 15 images of sample works, preferably public artwork

  6. numbered image list identifying title and materials of work in images

** Notes for Phase 2/RFP

At a minimum, those artists invited by the MCCPA Committee to submit full proposals (under the terms of a subsequent RFP) will be asked to present:

1.          Detailed sketch and narrative of five (5) decorative elements – each to fit within a 4” deep, recessed panel measuring 4’ high by 8’ long. In narrative section, please include all necessary supplemental information for the project, including a process timeline for completion of design and finished project.

2.          Materials and wall treatment – a detailed description of materials and processes to be used in manufacturing of decorative elements, including assessment of weather resistance of materials in central New Jersey climate, must be presented. Include detailed description of proposed installations methods and please address any relevant security issues.

3.          Completed budget outline

4.          Required support materials – materials including images and reviews of previously completed works, are required. Examples should describe size, materials, cost, and location of other public works. References for earlier projects are encouraged. Any other pertinent information relating to the qualifications of the artist/s completing the RFQ may be submitted.  

Total costs may not exceed $74,000.

Selection Criteria:

In reviewing applications received through the initial RFQ process, the following criteria will be considered by the Mercer County Courthouse Public Art Committee: 

  1. Relevance and appropriateness of their artwork to the Mercer County Courthouse and site

  2. Quality of artwork submitted

  3. Geographic eligibility: does the artist live or work within 50 miles of Mercer County, NJ

  4. Examples of proven ability of artist/s to meet project deadlines and perform work in a timely and professional manner.

  5. Completeness and relevance to the project of application materials submitted

  6. Timeliness: are all materials requested submitted by the application deadline 

    In addition, those artists invited to move on to Phase 2/RFP to prepare a full submission in accordance with the project RFP will also have their final proposal evaluated on the following qualifications:

  • Originality and aesthetic relationship of design elements to the County Courthouse;
  • Artistic quality of the proposed artwork(s);
  • Appropriateness of the proposed artwork(s) to the site and to the objectives of the project and courthouse activities. 
  • Practicality of materials and techniques;
  • Performance, durability, maintainability, and use of high-quality materials;
  • Absence of hazards to the public;
  • Willingness of the artist to carry out the project in coordination with the project team;
  • Ability of the artist to create and install the artwork(s) within the proposed time-frame and budget;
  • Recommended measures for ease of maintenance and;
  • All costs within budget

Selection Process: 

All application materials that meet initial eligibility requirements will be reviewed by the Mercer County Courthouse Public Art Committee. The Committee will select up to five (5) finalists and invite them to prepare a full proposal.

RFQ As Exclusive Basis For Application

This RFQ provides to all applicants the scope of the application process.  Any information or understandings verbal or written, which are not contained either in the RFQ or in subsequent written addenda to the RFQ, will not be considered in evaluating applicants.

As part of the process leading to the selection of the applicant, the MCDCH may request additions or clarifications to the application.


The MCDCH will reach a decision regarding the most appropriate applications for the project.  However, this RFQ does not commit the MCDCH to select any of the applications that have been received by the deadline, or to pay any costs incurred by the applicant in the preparation of the application to the RFQ. The MCDCH reserves the right to reject any and all applications and to waive informalities and irregularities in applications received.

The MCDCH may choose to request additional information or submissions from some or all of the applicants as a part of its review process.  And, it may choose to issue another RFQ in the event that it cannot select five finalists in this submission until appropriate applications for the project are received and approved.  Award of an Agreement is subject to funding availability. The MCDCH reserves the right to cancel in whole or in part, this RFQ.  All artists will be formally advised of the art selection committee’s decision.

In the event that the MCDCH decides to suspend or terminate this RFQ, or any subsequent negotiations with applicants, it is specifically understood that the MCDCH will not be responsible for any costs or expenses incurred by the applicant in connection with the preparations and submission in response to the RFQ.

Information Session:

Finalists will be invited to a Q and A session at the Mercer County Courthouse the week of February 19, 2018, to view the artwork site and interior of the Courthouse, and ask questions.  

For Questions regarding the RFQ/RFP:

Contact Tricia Fagan in the Division of Culture and Heritage by email at All questions and answers related to the project will be collated and shared with all applicants.

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