University prepares to remodel old Frick Laboratory
The University is preparing to renovate the former Frick Laboratory at 20 Washington Road and convert it into a center for the economics department and various international programs.
The project, slated for completion and occupancy by fall 2016, will entail a complete remodeling of the interior, University Architect Ron McCoy said. The entire building will be stripped down to its concrete frame — with the exception of two heritage rooms with historic detailing, the entrance lobby and a library — and the external walls of the building will be restored to ensure that it is functionally sound.
“We’re going to retain those two rooms — the heritage rooms — and the rest of the building gets gutted to its concrete frame,” McCoy said.
The redesigned building will be transformed to include two large atria, McCoy said, which will serve as entrance rooms and hubs for the entire building, alongside a variety of new rooms. Three glass pavilions will also be added to the rooftop of the building to serve as seminar rooms, and two additional main entrances facing Shapiro Walk and Scudder Plaza will be created.
“It’s the equivalent of building a new building,” University President Shirley Tilghman said. The original building opened in 1929.
The project has recently completed the design development phase, University Spokesperson Martin Mbugua said, and the University is now in the process of completing its construction documents. This stage should be completed by late summer, Mbugua said, and construction is projected to begin in January of 2014.
The renovation cost would be in the neighborhood of $150 million to $160 million, Tilghman said. Some gifts are being raised for the project, with the rest to be covered by the University’s 10-year Capital Plan, which establishes project grants and budgets for new building projects and major renovations.
Currently, the economics department has its headquarters in Fisher Hall, but economists are scattered across campus, including the Bendheim Center for Finance, Wallace Hall and the basements of Firestone Library, Department of Economics chair Gene Grossman said.
“Most importantly, it’ll provide a home that can house all of the various parts,” Grossman said. “The department is currently spread over, depending on how you count, five or six buildings, and that certainly impedes our interactions and our random meetings over coffee.”
In addition, the building will include various spaces created for the department to hold seminars and meetings, as well as new classrooms, Grossman said.
Likewise, the project will also give the various international programs, including the Office of International Programs, the Council for International Teaching and Research, Princeton in Asia, Princeton in Latin America and other similar programs a central location on campus, which Tilghman said she hopes will help improve the accessibility of the various programs for students.
“Our motivation is really to create one-stop shopping for students,” Tilghman said. “So when a student is thinking about, 'Gee, I want to study abroad' or 'I want to do a summer internship' or 'I want to take a global summer seminar' or 'I want to be in the Bridge Year Program' — any of these things that we’ve created to increase the likelihood that a student will have an international experience, we’re going to try and consolidate in this building. So, you don’t have five places to go when you’re thinking about it. You have one place to go."
By moving the economics department and the Office of International Programs into this new location, a lot of much-needed space will also be freed up throughout campus, Tilghman said, as much of campus is extremely packed at the moment.
“We often say that, right now, there isn’t a broom closet left on this campus that hasn’t been assigned,” Tilghman said. “This is going to really create the ability for a lot of different programs to finally have a little breathing room so that they don’t continue to create offices in broom closets.”