Princeton University unveils new energy research hub
Designs for a new 127,000-square-foot research center for energy and the environment to be built on Princeton University’s east campus were unveiled today. Developed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects of New York, the Andlinger Center will provide specialized facilities for research related to sustainable energy. The building is designed around a series of gardens, which give it a “porosity” or openness that invites people to enter, meet and collaborate, said Ron McCoy, Princeton University architect.
The design calls for three interconnected buildings, to be built of mostly brick and glass, that house laboratories, classrooms and meeting spaces. As some of the highly specialized laboratories, such as the imaging labs for examining materials at the atomic levels, have to built on bedrock to reduce vibration, this challenged the architects to create appealing lower level spaces. “Tod and Billie have come up with a beautiful solution”, said Pablo Debenedetti, vice dean of engineering and chairman of the Andlinger steering committee. Instead of being fully underground, the lower space will open to gardens. “They are bringing natural light and a contemplative, peaceful feeling to the place”, said Debenedetti.
Creating a connection between the built and natural environments was a key motivation throughout the project, said Tod Williams, who, in addition to being the principal architect for the project, earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Princeton in 1965 and 1967. “I knew the engineering area well and didn’t feel it was part of the fabric of the university”, Williams said. “I was thrilled to realize we might contribute to the research and make it a loved portion of the campus.”
Next to the laboratory building, a second main building will provide office and other research space. It will connect to the engineering quadrangle and Bowen Hall, which is the focus of material science research. A third structure will house a lecture hall.
The building, which is being designed to achieve LEED silver certification, is expected to begin construction in 2011.