Restoration of Princeton's Elm Club makes way for new cultural influences
The Carl A. Fields Centre for Equality and Cultural Understanding, designed by Ann Beha Architects has opened at Princeton University. The project restores the Elm Club, an Italianate-style landmark constructed in 1890, and juxtaposes it with a contemporary addition, collectively creating spaces for new events and programs in conjunction with the Centre’s academic and community services.
ABA’s design creates new seminar and program rooms, a tutoring centre for community outreach programs, and program student offices, providing a mix of functions with facilities that all members of the University community can use. In the historic building, formal spaces can be opened to each other, creating settings for larger or smaller gatherings, as well as a resource room which doubles as the library. Connected to the restored building by a new light-filled lobby gallery, the new 464 sq m, 2-storey addition provides access to an outdoor terrace and events lawn; and a wood lined gathering space for several hundred, designed for music, lectures, conferences and special events.
The interior design incorporates crafts and artwork while introducing contemporary and flexible new elements. The carpets are an adaptation of the quilt and textile designs long produced by the Afro American women’s artisan community in Alabama known as Gee’s Bend, and the interior color palette was selected to respond to this vibrant color scheme. The new assembly room and lobby are lined with natural Douglas fir, with a pre-finished dark wood floor, suitable for dance and acoustically responsive; and the ceiling is paneled in slatted Douglas fir with acoustic batts to balance the room’s performance characteristics.