As most of its students already know, much of Princeton is very eye-catching, but in a slightly ‘in-your-face’ way. From the sheer size of Nassau Hall and the majesty of Blair Arch to the glass-covered, futuristic-feeling Frick Chemistry Laboratory, it can all get a little overwhelming. Fortunately, there are enough low-key spots around campus — many of which are just as beautiful as the ‘louder’ ones — that are perfect for study sessions, evening coffee breaks, and just trying to escape a crowd! Here are a few of them:
1. Firestone’s Secret Rooms
Okay, this one is a little bit of a cheat, since these spots are located in maybe the most populated study spot on campus — Firestone Library (if you haven’t figured that out for yourself yet, check back in during Reading Period and take a look). But while many know that a few secret rooms exist in the Library, only a handful actually know how to reach them.
Once you enter the library, climb up the main stairs until the third floor, and follow the first red ‘exit’ signs you see until they lead you to a ~secret staircase~. From there, use the last bit of your energy to climb to the very top, and you’ll reach two adjacent doors — entrances to two study rooms. They both receive good amounts of natural lighting and have pretty scenic views of the University and town — but they’re also very isolated from the rest of the library, making them perfect spots for concentrated essay-writing or even some light reading.
2. Mini-park behind East Pyne
This one’s a personal favorite of mine, especially during fall/spring evenings. Simply head behind East Pyne Hall (or alternatively, stand facing Nassau Hall and walk left) and you’ll reach a pretty mini-park with benches, picnic tables, and various orange and yellow hues during the fall. It’s the perfect place to catch up on some light work, or even catch up with a friend over coffee!
3. The ‘Whale’ of Icahn Laboratory
While not the most secret of locations on this nooks and crannies list, the ‘Whale’ in the Carl Icahn Laboratory, known by many as the 'Ribosome,' is nevertheless a very interesting study space, as well as a sculpture by esteemed architect Frank Gehry. The sunlight from the windows of the building seep through the designs on the ‘Whale’ to create interesting images on the desks and chairs inside it. So, if you need an environment that changes ever so slightly every few hours to keep you stimulated, the ‘Whale’ may be the study spot for you!
4. Basement of the Neuroscience Building
Further down campus from Icahn, you’ll find yourself in front of the entrance to the Princeton Neuroscience Institute. And while the first floor has some of the comfiest chairs on campus, it’s the floor below it that makes it to this list; there are so many tables there that it’s almost impossible to not find a private area to study (or even unwind after a long day!). What’s more, there’s also a patio with excellent forest views that’s perfect for study breaks or relaxed work sessions. Add to it the appealing red and white aesthetic of the floor, combined with the fact that neuroscience researchers tend to make very little noise, and the building appears to be an ideal place to finish off that paper or problem set. Oh, and you’ve always got Poe Field right outside the building for a more active study break!