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Wednesday, April 23, 2014









At left: The architect’s conceptual rendering shows the new building for the Department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering facing east on Shapiro Walk. The Computer Science Building and the E-Quad are in the background.

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New building embraces neighborhood plan, engineering vision

From the Dec. 5, 2005, Princeton Weekly Bulletin

ORFE building
The University has selected the award-winning architecture firm of Frederick Fisher and Partners to design a new building for the School of Engineering and Applied Science’s Department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering.

Architectural Digest has called Fred Fisher one of the nation’s top 100 designers and the Municipal Art Society of New York awarded him the Brendan Gill Prize for the re-design of the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in Long Island City. The firm, which is based in Los Angeles, has completed projects throughout the United States and abroad.

The new building will be situated west of Mudd Library. The three-story structure will encompass in excess of 45,000 gross square feet. Built on a stone and glass base, it will be faced primarily in glass on all four sides, echoing the architecture of the Friend Center for Engineering Education across Shapiro Walk.

The site for the building, which also is near the Engineering Quadrangle, was carefully chosen under Princeton’s plan to emphasize the development of academic “neighborhoods” on campus. It also is an important first step in the engineering school’s vision to add space for interdisciplinary research. The building is in close proximity to the social sciences neighborhood that includes Wallace Hall and the Bendheim Center for Finance.

“The location is ideal because many of the occupants have scholarly relationships with people in the social sciences in nearby buildings,” said Jon Hlafter, University architect. Fisher added that he sees the building as a “bridge between social sciences and engineering.”

The Department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering (ORFE), currently housed in the E-Quad, was founded in 1999. It has experienced significant growth, and now graduates between 45 and 50 majors each year. In addition to the undergraduate program, the department offers master’s and doctoral programs.

“This building will provide critically important space for a department that has absolutely flourished in the six years since it was created,” said Maria Klawe, dean of engineering. “The teaching and research by ORFE faculty complements very strongly the work of other departments in the social sciences and humanities and has made Princeton a true leader in solving problems in industry and finance.”

According to Robert Vanderbei, chair of the department, students enrolled in the department are typically engineering innovators and entrepreneurs. Some graduates go on to become leaders in finance, information technology, management consulting, insurance and operations planning. Others develop tools to improve the performance of complex systems or to manage resources efficiently.

Offices for department faculty members and shared offices for graduate students will run along the north and south sides of the building on all three floors. Located in between on the west end of the building near its main entrance will be a distinctive architectural feature — a three-story atrium.

The first floor also will include a 66-seat lecture room and an undergraduate lounge. The second floor will incorporate computer studios. The third floor will be the home of the new Center for Information Technology Policy, which will bring computer scientists and engineers together with economists, sociologists, lawyers and lawmakers to address societal issues arising from advances in computer technology.

Site work for the building could begin as soon as next spring. Crews are expected to do some renovation on an electrical substation south of the site to reduce its size, according to Hlafter.

The building will be the focus of fund-raising efforts over the next year. Construction is tentatively scheduled to start in the spring of 2007 and end in the summer of 2008. The new building has not yet been named.

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