The new building for the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment on the corner of Olden Street and Prospect Avenue will open to students, faculty and researchers in February 2016.
Construction began in winter 2012 following a $100 million donation from Gerhard Andlinger ’52, a business executive with a passion for environmental engineering. The University, with the help of University Architect Ron McCoy GS ’80 and a board of interviewers, selected the New York-based architecture firm Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects to help design the space.
The Andlinger Center, founded in July 2008, supports research alongside the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the School of Architecture and the Wilson School. Its focuses include sustainable energy development, energy efficiency and environmental protection.
Andlinger Center Founding Director Emily Carter and McCoy presented the building on Wednesday morning to a group of journalists, professors and researchers, followed by a tour of the building. Carter began by presenting opening remarks about the engineering applications of the building as well as the goals of the center itself.
“This center is not a center for just today, the next five years; it is a center that, like Princeton, will endure for centuries,” Carter said.
She added that the building design reflects the importance the Andlinger Center places on addressing long-term energy research, such as the development of biofuels, grid scale storage and fusion power.
The new center will facilitate Andlinger’s preexisting programs, including a seminar series and the sustainable energy certificate program, as well as give researchers a place to conduct innovative, cutting-edge studies, Carter said.
McCoy explained that building architects Tod Williams '65and Billie Tsien, alongside landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh, approached this project with a mind to preserve the history of the University and simultaneously introduce an entirely unique addition to campus.
The project, he said, was one of the most highly performing buildings the University has ever built as well as the most demanding piece of architecture technology they could ever have imagined.
“There is a good contrast between the sort of hard-core beauty of science and engineering, and what the architects have brought to the building, which is a sense of detail, of craft, of materiality, a kind of sensual enjoyment of just space,” he explained.
Although the center appears to be several buildings, it is just one building with many projecting areas. It features laboratories, offices, instructional spaces, meeting areas and a 208-person capacity lecture hall featuring a skylight.
Sam Rozycki, senior project manager in the Office of Design and Construction, explained that many elements of the building’s mechanics will help to facilitate the center’s environmental mission, including a heat recovery system to warm the building, green roofs to enhance the management of rainwater and ventilation designs to facilitate airflow and prevent unwanted particles from interfering with scientific study.
McCoy said that the introduction of the center is a reconciliation of memory and innovation.
“This building, in its materials, can evoke a tradition of craft and materiality that is in perfect harmony with what we’re seeing through this window, which is layers of different masons, constructing the campus of Princeton,” he said
Carter and McCoy both said that art and science come together at the center to provide scientists and students not only with the tools and facilities needed to work towards solving environmental issues, but also a tranquil setting in which to do so.