'Princeton Modern' offers walking tour of post-'50s architecture

March 18, 2010, 1:36 p.m.
Woodrow Wilson School with Cherry Blossoms

"Princeton Modern: Highlights of Campus Architecture from the 1960s to the Present," a new book on the University's modern architecture, contains more than 90 full-color photographs of building exteriors and interiors by author and photographer Dale Cotton. This image of Robertson Hall, designed by Minoru Yamasaki, shows the nearby Scudder Plaza with magnolia trees in bloom.

Building photos: Dale Cotton
Book jacket photo: Brian Wilson

book cover

The book cover shows Rafael Viñoly's Icahn Laboratory. "Dramatic light filters in through the louvered vertical 'blinds' that create a dappled pattern on the floors and walls," Cotton writes.

The first book-length look at modern architecture on the Princeton University campus has been produced by a local author.

"Princeton Modern: Highlights of Campus Architecture from the 1960s to the Present," was designed, written and photographed by Dale Cotton, a Princeton University Press senior production editor and freelance photographer and writer. It covers signature touches added to the campus by world-famous architects such as Cesar Pelli, Frank Gehry, Rafael Viñoly and Robert Venturi, among others.

At left: Wu Hall, designed by Venturi Rauch and Scott Brown, features a round arch and large bay with an "oculus" (round opening) and "mullioned" windows that allow natural light to enter. At right: Clouds and neighboring trees reflect in the glass curtain wall of Sherrerd Hall, one of the newer buildings on campus designed by Frederick Fisher and Partners.

"Princeton Modern is the best architectural account of our current campus that I have seen," said Jon Hlafter, University architect emeritus. Hlafter's foreword provides an overview of the evolution of the University's architecture, based on his 40 years of expertise in campus construction and design. 

The 64-page, full-color book, published by the University's Office of Communications, is intended to serve as a walking guide.

"Princeton Modern" contains more than 90 full-color photographs of building exteriors and interiors. Each building is numbered in the book to correspond with a color-coded pullout map.

Atrium and stairwell

At left: Natural light floods the atrium in the Hillier Group's Bowen Hall. At right: This staircase in Hoyt Laboratory, designed by Davis Brody and Associates, is inside the pie-shaped fire escape -- the building's most prominent feature.

"I've found great satisfaction in exploring the University's buildings inside and out," said Cotton. "My hope is that the campus community and campus visitors will share my fascination and admiration for these exciting designs."

Photographs, sample pages and more information about the book are available on the author's website.

The book is being sold at Labyrinth Books in Princeton, the Princeton University Art Museum Store and the University Store

Lewis Library

"Like an Igor Stravinsky composition for ballet, counterpoint and contradiction dominate the exterior: saw-toothed rooflines are juxtaposed against sloping steel profiles and brick boxes; soaring towers confront horizontal rooms; shiny steel embraces light-color brick," Cotton writes of the Gehry Partners-designed Lewis Library.