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Events to celebrate new home of Fields Center, Community House

Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 17-20, 2009, various times · 58 Prospect Ave.

Following more than a year of construction and renovations, the opening this month of the new home of the Fields Center and Community House will establish a new landmark for multicultural education at 58 Prospect Ave.

The public is invited to celebrate the facility's opening with a day of activities on Thursday, Sept. 17. The event will include tours of the building from 2 to 4 p.m., and remarks followed by a reception at 4:30 p.m. A "Back-to-School Jam" for students will cap off the night with a live musical performance and disc jockey from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Giving remarks will be Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman, Vice President for Campus Life Janet Dickerson, Fields Center Director Makeba Clay and members of the Fields Center Student Advisory Board.

Designed by Ann Beha Architects of Boston, the 18,800-square-foot facility pairs the renovated former Elm Club building with a modern 5,000-square-foot addition. Work included an exterior restoration of the former eating club to its original 1906 look in the Italianate revival style and an interior renovation of the three-story building. Two wings on the sides of the building were removed, and an addition to the north side created a large, window-filled event space for social gatherings, a welcoming lobby, kitchen and accessible restrooms.

The facility affords larger and more flexible space for the more than 30 student programs and other campus and alumni groups supported by the Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding. The new building also provides gathering space for a host of social and cultural activities that promote interactions among students and the campus community . The center also is launching a new website to coincide with events.

"We are extremely excited about the visibility and openness of our new building," Clay said. "We are trying to represent the best of what Princeton has to offer as a center of excellence for multicultural education, and we now have a space that will make our activities more accessible to people on campus and in the community."

The building offers more amenities than the old Fields Center building at 86 Olden St., including updated seminar rooms, intimate social spaces, additional dedicated student offices and areas wired for new media. Rooms on the first floor, including a small area with café seating, a library and exhibit space, will be used for the Fields Center's training and educational programs, service projects and experiential learning opportunities that focus on issues of empowerment, understanding, leadership and social justice. The second floor houses administrative offices for the Fields Center and for student programs.

Community House occupies the building's third floor -- marking the first time in the student service organization's 40-year history that a dedicated space was designed for its use. The organization, which is committed to closing the minority achievement gap by providing tutoring and educational enrichment programs for low-income and minority youth in Princeton Borough and Township, most recently occupied space in the old Fields Center building. With new administrative offices, a tutoring center and computer cluster, Community House will offer more on-site programs and expand its tutoring hours.  

The Fields Center will continue its grand opening celebration on Friday, Sept. 18, with a coffee hour at 9 a.m. and building tours from 10 a.m. to noon. Community House will hold a public open house from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, in celebration of its 40th anniversary. A Unity Reggae Fest sponsored by the Fields Center and Community House will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 20, featuring the reggae band JAH GUID, food and outdoor games. To attend any of the opening events, RSVP by Monday, Sept. 14, to caf@princeton.edu.

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