Construction proceeds on Butler College and natural science neighborhood

by Eric Quiñones

The transformation of Princeton’s residential college system and natural sciences neighborhood will continue this year as work progresses on the rebuilding of Butler College as well as construction of the new chemistry building and Streicker Bridge.

Crews this fall will complete the concrete foundations of the new chemistry building as work advances toward the fall 2010 opening of the 263,000-square-foot facility, which is located at the former Armory site on Washington Road and will be part of the expanded natural sciences neighborhood. (photo: Brian Wilson)

This fall also will mark the opening of three major facilities: Lewis Library, the bold and colorful Frank Gehry-designed science library located on the corner of Washington Road and Ivy Lane; the new glass-faced building between Mudd Library and Wallace Hall that will house the Department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering and the Center for Information Technology Policy; and Roberts Stadium, a state-of-the-art soccer facility located south of Butler College.

These and several other projects are part of the University’s Campus Plan, an initiative completed last spring to guide campus development through 2016.

The following is an overview of ongoing and recently completed construction projects, provided by Sean Joyner, deputy director of the Office of Design and Construction:

Ongoing projects

The reconstruction of Butler College is a major element of the University’s conversion to its four-year residential college system. The enclosure of Butler’s new dormitories is largely complete, and crews will continue to work on the project throughout the year to prepare the college for its reopening in fall 2009. (photo: Brian Wilson)
  • Butler College — The reconstruction of Butler College — which is slated to reopen in fall 2009 — is a major project in the University’s four-year residential college system, which was launched last fall with the opening of Whitman College. Five dormitories were demolished in summer 2007 to begin converting Butler from a two-year to a four-year residential college that will house undergraduates from all four years as well as graduate students. Work on enclosing the new buildings is largely complete and will be finalized this fall. Crews this summer also began interior mechanical, electrical and plumbing work. All interior work, including installation of walls, doors and partitions, is expected to be completed by the end of the spring, with exterior landscaping to be finished next summer in time for Butler’s reopening. The project includes a strong focus on sustainability, including “green roofs” on more than half of the dorms.
  • Chemistry building — The new chemistry facility at the former Armory site is part of the development of the natural sciences neighborhood at the south end of Washington Road. The neighborhood will include several existing buildings as well as the new Lewis Library, new buildings for neuroscience and psychology, and Streicker Bridge. Crews this summer began installing the chemistry building’s concrete foundations and basement walls, and they will continue this work into the fall. Erection of the steel frame is scheduled to begin in late September, followed by the installation of the glass and aluminum facades, which is expected to start in early 2009 and continue into the summer. The four-story building will encompass 263,000 gross square feet and is due to open in fall 2010. In keeping with the University’s focus on sustainable construction, the chemistry building project includes landscape and stormwater strategies to enhance the natural areas surrounding the facility as well as features that will reduce energy demand and conserve water.
  • Streicker Bridge and neuroscience and psychology buildings — Crews spent this summer installing utility lines on the eastern side of Poe Field for the pedestrian bridge — which will span Washington Road to connect the two sides of the science neighborhood — as well as for new neuroscience and psychology buildings proposed for construction south of the Icahn Laboratory. Excavation will begin this month for a tunnel to connect Icahn with the neuroscience and psychology buildings. Structural piers for the bridge will be set on both sides of Washington Road this fall. Erection of the 300-foot span is expected to begin next summer and to be completed in fall 2010 in conjunction with the chemistry building’s opening. It is hoped that construction activity on the new neuroscience and psychology buildings can begin in summer 2009.
  • Wilcox Hall — Work to replace mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems in Wilcox, initially scheduled for completion over the summer, was delayed due to unanticipated conditions that called for some designs to be altered. The project is expected to be completed in late September or October at the latest, and temporary arrangements are being made for Wilson College students who dine in Wilcox. Construction of a new entry to Wilcox, with a stair tower and elevator, on Goheen Walk on the building’s south side is slated for completion at the end of the academic year. Next summer, work will begin on both Wilcox and Wu halls to merge the kitchens and serveries for Wilson and Butler colleges.
  • Fields Center — Major construction began this summer on the former Elm Club at 58 Prospect Ave., which will become the new home of the Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding and Community House. Two wings on the east and west sides of the building were taken down this summer. Excavation on the north side of the building has begun, making way for a 5,000-square-foot addition whose steel framing will start to rise this fall. Plans call for a restoration of the former eating club to its original 1906 look in the Italianate Revival style, along with a full renovation of the interior, all of which will continue through the spring and summer in time for the building to be occupied in September 2009.
  • Campus Club — Renovations of this former eating club, which will reopen as a community space primarily for undergraduate and graduate students, have been delayed due to unforeseen conditions that arose during demolition. The project is now expected to be finished in the spring, following a redesign of some construction details and approval of those revisions by local building officials. The University in 2006 acquired ownership of the 12,600-square-foot building at the corner of Washington Road and Prospect Avenue and agreed to preserve its appearance and character while planning additions such as an elevator, accessible entries and restrooms, and a more sustainable geothermal system for heating and cooling.
  • Art museum — Work is essentially complete on a project that began this summer to restore portions of the exterior façade, roofs, windows and skylights. Restoration of the landscape will continue into early fall. Portions of the museum’s collection that were taken down during this project have been reinstalled.
  • 36 University Place — The University this fall will complete renovations of the second and third floors to accommodate four new occupants — Career Services, the Study Abroad Program, Health Professions Advising and the Community-Based Learning Initiative — which will move into the building in early November. The Princeton University Store this summer renovated and reopened the first floor to offer dorm and educational supplies, convenience and prepared foods, small electronics, and health and beauty products, along with Princeton Pharmacy and Pequod Printing services.
  • Parking lot 23A — A project initially scheduled for the summer to expand the parking lot south of Faculty Road and just east of Alexander Street was delayed due to changes in plans related to landscaping and the addition of a bus shelter. The work is now expected to take place later this fall or in the spring.

Completed projects

In addition to the Lewis Library, the new engineering building and Roberts Stadium, the following projects were completed this summer:

  • Dillon Gymnasium — Renovations included the addition of two cardiovascular equipment rooms and upgrades to the Stephens Fitness Center and other areas of the facility (see story on page 5).
  • Frist Campus Center — Café Vivian was renovated to reorganize its layout and seating; it is reopening with an expanded, healthier menu.
  • Peyton Hall — Space once used for the astrophysics library collection, which has moved to the Lewis Library, was renovated this summer to create 10 new offices on two floors. Work will continue through the middle of the fall on a project to convert the larger domed telescope room on the second floor into a conference space.
  • Dining Services — Renovations were made to the former Springdale Golf Club clubhouse on College Road east of the Graduate College to create office space for the Department of Dining Services, which will move from its current locations at 106 and 130 Alexander St. by mid-September.
  • Helm Building — Three offices were added to the building at 330 Alexander St. for the Office of Development.
  • Guard booth — The Department of Public Safety guard booth formerly located between Whitman and Butler colleges on Elm Drive was moved south near the MacMillan Building.

Other projects

Planning continued over the summer for several other major projects proposed in the Campus Plan, including a new parking garage east of Princeton Stadium that has been relocated and scaled back from its original size; a new day care facility across the street from the existing U-Now and U-League facility at 171 Broadmead; and the arts and transit neighborhood proposed at the intersection of Alexander Street and University Place (see story about the arts and transit neighborhood open house on page 7).

In late August ground was broken for a new office building that the University will lease at 701 Canal Pointe Blvd. in West Windsor. The building is scheduled for completion in fall 2009 and will be occupied by the Office of the Treasurer and the Office of Information Technology. The University also purchased an existing office building at 693 Alexander Road in West Windsor that it plans to use for a variety of administrative purposes.