May 16, 2001: From the Editor

Last fall Princeton hosted the annual meeting of Ivy League alumni magazine editors. The last afternoon of the conference was a gorgeous autumn day, and we decided to take advantage of the weather with an impromptu tour of campus — with me, naturally, serving as guide. Well, Princeton has changed a lot in the past 12 years, but as we meandered away from Prospect House I made a game effort to identify major buildings and their functions. (I should mention that the group included two editors who happen to be experts on the work of Robert Venturi ’47 *50, increasing the pressure.) I was doing pretty well until we got to the south end of campus, where I was confronted with a building that had most definitely not been around when I was a student. In an authoritative voice I announced that it was a new dorm — thankfully it was not Venturi-designed — and hustled my guests across Washington Road toward the new stadium.

The experience set me thinking about the changing campus. During President Shapiro’s tenure Princeton has undergone unprecedented growth.

If I had difficulty figuring out what was what, how could alumni returning after 20, 25, or 30 years hope to recognize their old stomping grounds?

That question made this issue of PAW, our pre-Reunions issue, the ideal time to take a look at Princeton’s evolving footprint, as scores of alumni prepare to descend on a campus further transfigured by fences, tents, and badge- and wristband-inspecting proctors. Most of us are probably aware that the former College of New Jersey was originally a one-building schoolhouse. But the forces that shaped the look and flow of the campus in the 245 ensuing years since Nassau Hall was completed may remain a mystery.

Fortunately, they aren’t a mystery to Ben Kessler, the director of slide and photography collections in the art and archaeology department. Kessler became interested in the history of Princeton’s layout while cataloging images for the 250th Anniversary “Evolution of the Campus” Web project ( “I was interested by the way that the campus forms a microcosm of the history of American architecture,” he says. Since then he has given lectures on the topic as well as campus tours to students, architectural professionals, church groups, and alumni.

His story, “Shaping the Campus,” begins on page 24.

By the way, on my own little tour last fall, I was right. Scully Hall, an upperclass dormitory designed by Rodolfo Machado of Machado and Silvetti and completed in 1998, wraps around Butler College’s 1922 Hall just north of Poe Field. And, OK — the posters in the windows might have helped.