PRINCETON UNIVERSITY

Location: New Jersey, USA
Scope: Institute of Integrative Genomics
Area: 8,550sqm
Stage: Completed 2003
Budget: £28m
Client: Princeton University
Architect: Rafael Viñoly Architects
Structural Engineer: Dewhurst MacFarlane & Partners
Services Engineer: Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann Associates
Civil Engineer: Van Note-Harvey Associates
Construction Manager: Barr & Barr
Landscape Architect: Quennell Rothschild & Partners
Acoustic Engineer: Acentech
Laboratory Consultant: GPR Planners Collaborative


The site is part of a masterplan organised around a large elliptical field that constitutes a new academic quadrangle for the university. The roughly triangular site boundaries are determined by the curve of the ellipse and two perpendicular roads nearly tangential; a major public road leads to the centre of Princeton Town, and a minor campus road separates this building from an adjacent dormitory.
 
Two large rectangular volumes, located along the straight sides of the site, dominate the building’s formal massing. Within the historical context of the campus, situated between the science complex of typical brick-clad buildings and the historical campus in traditional stone, the building’s skin bridges both contexts. Its pre-cast concrete panels have the proportion and colour of brick, with a texture that mimics the richness of stone. These volumes contain the laboratories, the principal programmatic element of the facility.
 
The space between the lab volumes and the curved boundary of the quad is spanned by a steel truss roof that shelters an open communal atrium which contains formal and informal meeting areas, a café, the building’s lobby, and direct physical and visual connections to the labs.
 
The atrium is enclosed by a glass curtain wall, 9.5m tall and 82.3m long, that orients the entire facility toward the quad while allowing sunlight to pour into the space from the southeast. 31 vertical louvers, 12.2m in height, run the length of the curved glass wall.
 
The line of monumental louvers shelters a portion of the footpath that describes the ellipse of the ‘quad’ and runs between the louvers and the curtain wall. This arrangement creates a situation that is simultaneously interior and exterior, thereby strengthening the connection between atrium and landscape.