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Lakeside Graduate Housing

Princeton University is moving ahead with plans to redevelop graduate student, faculty and staff housing, with several major steps taken in the past few months.

Recent progress includes:

• The selection of Studio Ma of Phoenix and Princeton as the architect and planner for the redevelopment of the Lakeside graduate student housing units at the Hibben-Magie site south of campus in conjunction with American Campus Communities (ACC), the developer chosen to oversee the project.

• The presentation of initial plans for the Hibben-Magie site showing two- to five-story energy-efficient structures that preserve most of the existing healthy woodlands. The current plans for the redeveloped site allow for 715 graduate students, an increase of more than 200 over the current capacity.

The project is part of the University's Housing Master Plan, begun in 2005 to enhance housing programs for faculty, staff and graduate students, as well as the Campus Plan, begun in 2006 to guide campus development through 2016.

"We're making significant progress toward our goals of better meeting the needs of our graduate students, faculty and staff as well as improving the condition and sustainability of our buildings, while limiting our impact on the surrounding neighborhood. And we’re accomplishing this by leveraging the expertise of the residential development sector," said Michael McKay, vice president for facilities.

Hibben-Magie site
The Lakeside apartment buildings, shown here, will be between four and five stories tall.

The development of projects in the Housing Master Plan and other off-campus ventures are being managed by the Office of Real Estate Development. The office reports to McKay and provides property development and project management services for properties located off campus.

"For projects like these, we accomplish our objectives by leveraging outside partners and the University's real estate assets for their most appropriate uses," said John Ziegler, director of real estate development. In addition to residential projects, the office oversees administrative buildings and multi-user facilities.

The Hibben and Magie apartments are two adjacent eight-story buildings located south of Faculty Road and east of Alexander Street near Lake Carnegie. Constructed in the 1960s, the 192 units with a capacity for 512 residents have outmoded building systems and interior layouts, and do not offer residents amenities found in more contemporary housing facilities.

Princeton has been working with ACC since last year to choose an architect, determine the size and mix of the new units (one-bedroom, two-bedroom, three-bedroom or four-bedroom) and decide whether or not to retain all or part of the existing Hibben-Magie buildings as part of the design. Graduate students and the Graduate School staff have been engaged throughout the process.

Hibben-Magie site
This architect's rendering shows the planned townhomes along the new road that will run through the Lakeside community.

Studio Ma is an award-winning architecture and environmental design firm that embraces the philosophy of "ma," a Japanese term that acknowledges the dynamic relationship between objects and their surrounding environment.

"Princeton and ACC focused on selecting an architect that is experienced in student housing and is particularly sensitive to the traditions of campus architecture, as well as the beauties and environmental sensitivities of the woodland site," said University Architect Ron McCoy. "We interviewed several excellent firms and agreed that Studio Ma would be best for this project."

Studio Ma and ACC's plan for the site begins with taking down the current buildings. In their place, the firms propose erecting, primarily on existing impervious surfaces, some 13 structures with 329 units and a capacity for 715 graduate students and their families. Plans include a mixture of one- to four-bedroom townhomes (on multiple levels) ranging in size from 1,300 to 1,600 square feet and apartments encompassing 650 to 1,100 square feet. The larger units are intended to address the desire of some graduate students to have privacy, but also to pay lower rents by sharing common areas such as kitchen and dining spaces.

When planning began for the Hibben-Magie site, those involved realized that the development capacity was more than initially thought, according to Andrew Kane, director of housing and real estate services. The Housing Master Plan had called for Stanworth to change from housing for faculty and staff to housing primarily for graduate students, but the additional capacity at the Hibben-Magie site will make that unnecessary.

"It makes economic and programmatic sense to build out the Hibben-Magie site to its full capacity," Kane said. "The opportunity to house more graduate students on the site while still retaining a community feel is very appealing. This allows us to meet our commitment to house 70 percent of eligible graduate students and to maintain Stanworth for faculty and staff."

Plans also call for a "commons" facility for residents of the Hibben-Magie site, including a fitness center, social lounge, multi-function room, computer cluster, children's playroom, and outdoor social and recreation areas. In addition, a parking deck with at least 432 spaces will be built. The site is served by the University shuttle system. (Graduate students in University housing are not provided with on-campus parking passes.)

"This graduate housing will, above all else, look and feel like a community," McCoy said. "The mixture of townhomes and apartment buildings will enhance the experience of the site and the views of the lake. The buildings are related to each other through pathways, landscapes and vistas. The architectural design recalls the scale and richness of form that is characteristic of the historic residential buildings on the Princeton campus."

In addition to preserving the woodlands, the plan uses the natural slope of the site to locate taller buildings toward the lower part of the grounds and smaller buildings toward the higher ground levels, minimizing the perception of mass. The two- and three-story townhomes will be constructed primarily of wood frame. The four- to five-story apartment buildings will be constructed primarily of structural steel framing. The project is aiming for LEED Silver in the U.S. Green Building Council's certification program by using sustainable strategies for lighting, plumbing, heating and cooling. The site — in addition to the buildings — will be developed under the University's Sustainability Plan, with creative methods for stormwater management, in particular.

Construction is anticipated to be completed in time for graduate students to occupy the new complex in the summer of 2014.