Construction pace picks up with new buildings, renovations

By Ruth Stevens

Princeton NJ -- As the temperatures outside increase, the pace of work on campus also heats up. There is an extensive list of projects slated for construction and renovation beginning this spring, according to Michael McKay, vice president for facilities.

"The real peak growth rate on campus was in the 1960s," he said. "This is a close second." (For some facts and figures on Princeton's buildings, see "By the numbers" in this issue.)

new ellipse dormitory

The new ellipse dormitory bordering Poe and Pardee fields will provide space for 222 students when it opens this fall.


Currently the most visible project to members of the University community and visitors to Princeton alike is the work on the north side of campus near Chancellor Green and Firestone Library. The redesign of the site represents the final piece of a project that began in the summer of 2000 with the renovation of the Joseph Henry House.

The next summer, the renovation of East Pyne and the restoration of Chancellor Green started, followed in the summer of 2003 with the construction of a new humanities building east of the Joseph Henry House. The complex, which now serves as the home of the Andlinger Center for the Humanities, is intended to give a more visible profile to the humanities at Princeton.

"I think the Chancellor Green work is one of the best renovations we've done because of the character we restored to the building," McKay said. The building, formerly a library and a student center, now features an academic lounge, seminar rooms and a café.

Most of the construction is finished, although workers plan to repaint and add shutters to the humanities building. Crews also are concentrating on improving the landscaping. "The look of the place has changed considerably," McKay said. "We've opened up a view of Chancellor Green and created a nice space on the north side of the building. Before, that area seemed very off-limits. Now, you want to walk into it."


Crews are working on the Firestone Library plaza and the facade of the building this spring. They have replaced a roof on the underground addition to the library that runs below the plaza, and they also are repairing the masonry on the front of the building and the tower. Site work in the area is scheduled to be completed by the end of the summer.

While finishing the site work for the humanities complex, crews also are working on the adjacent Firestone plaza and facade. Workers have replaced a roof on the underground addition to the library that runs below the plaza. They also are repairing the masonry on the front of the building and the tower.

Site work in the humanities and library area is scheduled to be completed by the end of the summer.

Much of the construction taking place this spring and summer concerns housing for undergraduate and graduate students.

The new "ellipse" dormitory -- the residence hall that borders Poe and Pardee fields, will be completed for occupancy this fall. McKay noted that the dorm features a variety of room configurations, making the space "much more interesting," with a mix of quads, two-room doubles and singles. The building will accommodate 222 students as well as a number of common rooms, including a student kitchen and dining room.

The ellipse dorm will serve as "swing space" during the renovation of other residence halls on campus, starting this summer with Holder Hall. WPRB, the student radio station, will move permanently from Holder to new quarters in the ellipse dorm. Although work is not slated to begin on it until next summer, Hamilton Hall also will be closed starting this summer, providing easier coordination with the adjacent work in Holder. Part of the project will include constructing an underground "utility vault" in the space between Joline and Hamilton to house an electrical substation and air handling equipment.

The renovation of Lockhart Hall will continue this summer. Additional space for graduate students has been provided this spring with the opening of the Lawrence Apartments expansion. One building currently is occupied by previous residents of Lockhart, and six more will be ready for residents by the end of the current academic year, adding to the former cluster of six two-story buildings. The 12-story Lawrence high-rise will be closed next year for renovations.

Many of the undergraduate and graduate housing renovations are focused on improving accessibility and "life safety," according to McKay, which refers to projects such as adding sprinklers, upgrading fire alarms and providing for additional exits.

The much-anticipated construction on two new buildings also will begin in earnest this summer. Preliminary work already has started on the sites for Whitman College and for the new science library.

Princeton's sixth residential college will be built on the site of the former Pagoda Tennis Courts between Baker Rink and Dillon Gymnasium. Work on 15 new tennis courts near 1952 Stadium will be completed this spring.

This summer, workers will finish clearing the site for Whitman and will begin installing foundations and erecting walls. Demetri Porphyrios, a Princeton graduate alumnus and one of the world's leading traditional-style architects, has designed Whitman in the collegiate gothic style that ties in with nearby dormitories built in the first third of the 20th century. The 270,000-square-foot structure will house 500 undergraduate students and 10 graduate students when it is completed in three years.

Construction on the science library, on the corner of Washington Road and Ivy Lane near Fine Hall, will begin this fall. Frank Gehry, who is known for his body of provocative, expressionistic work, has designed the plans for the library. Work on the 87,000-square-foot facility is expected to be completed in fall 2006.

Other projects slated for this spring and summer are:

• Internal renovations at the Engineering Quadrangle, which will involve an addition to the main floor of the C-wing for a café.

• A major renovation of and addition to Burr Hall that is expected to take two years. When completed, the building will house humanities departments.

• Renovations of Jones Hall and Clio Hall that will cause those buildings to be closed for one year.

• An alteration of the boiler house on Elm Drive, which is no longer used to generate power. The brick addition on the front of the building will be demolished, leaving the collegiate gothic architecture in place. Following the 15-month project, the Department of Public Safety is expected to relocate there from Stanhope Hall.

• An addition to the chilled water plant involving the construction of a 60-foot-high tank that will be used to store chilled water. The project is scheduled to take one year.

• Replacement of the track in Jadwin Gymnasium.

• Resurfacing by Princeton borough of University Place and portions of Alexander Road. This work could cause some road closures during the summer.


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