A new, two-floor Undergraduate Admissions Information Center has officially opened at 36 University Place, nestled alongside the University Store. Beginning on Monday, Orange Key tours will start from this location.
The space, designed by architecture firm EwingCole, will provide a singular home for Orange Key Tour Guides and prospective undergraduate student information sessions. In the past the student group lacked a space of its own, typically beginning tours at Whig Hall on weekdays after information sessions and Frist Campus Center on weekends.
“Now we have one consistent starting place, regardless of whether an info session is happening or not,” Orange Key Co-Chair Rachel Hazan ’21 said. “It’s just nice that everything is condensed into one space, and that it is being fit essentially to the needs of the admissions office.”
This opening has been long awaited by the Office of Admission as the inauguration of an improved visitor experience. In the past, programming operated out of Clio Hall, a space owned by the Graduate School. The recent move to Whig Hall was always intended as a temporary fix.
“I am really happy that we are able [make] some parts about Orange Key uniform,” Orange Key Co-Chair Cristina Hain ’21 said. “It’s all together now, and that’s going to improve the experience for visitors and … guides.”
In collaboration with the Office of Admission, University administrators envisioned 36 University Place as a space to promote accessibility, inclusivity, and centralization.
Despite the change, tour guide Bobo Stankovikj ’20 emphasized that Orange Key tours will retain their existing caliber.
“In terms of the quality of the tours, it doesn’t meaningfully change anything,” he said. “You’re starting closer to where you would have started before the move.”
At the Information Center, guests are welcomed into an open reception space with orange armchairs looking out on the south side of Blair Arch. The second floor features two offices for admissions staff and a large room for information sessions, complete with rows of chairs and a TV display. The building also features a reception desk, which will enable Orange Key and the Office of Admission to begin checking in visitors — a much-needed improvement, by Hain’s account.
Emily Crosby, Assistant Dean for Events and Visitor Management, has been involved in overseeing the new space since the summer of 2018. She moved into her new office last week and is preparing for the official transition.
“The impact will be incredibly positive,” Crosby said. “We want people to get the impression that Princeton is a place that is welcoming and inclusive, not stuffy or elitist. And I think just the space alone is saying that.”
The Undergraduate Admissions Information Center lacks the large marble steps of Whig and Clio. In line with efforts to increase accessibility, guests enter 36 University Place on the ground floor, and an elevator is installed nearby to access the upper level.
“It’s definitely more accessible,” Stankovikj said. “It’s closer to parking and where people can actually find it. Also, so many people want to actually go to the U-Store after tours that it’s conveniently located for those purposes.”
Orange Key offers undergraduate-oriented tours seven days a week, generally surveying the northern half of campus and lasting roughly an hour. Though the tours are fully student-run, tour guides are paid $11.20 an hour by the University, according to the Orange Key co-chairs.
In the spirit of focusing on undergraduates, Hain noted that the space is specifically tailored for prospective students.
“It’s not necessarily a touristy space,” the Operations Research and Financial Engineering concentrator explained. “It’s more … for people who want to go to school here. [High school students] are the primary audience.”
Beyond ensuring admissions events are available to a wider audience, Hain and Hazan look forward to utilizing the space to improve the experience and community of Orange Key guides, a group of just under 100 undergraduates, according to Hain.
“Orange Key just helps you re-fall in love with Princeton,” Hain explained. “I really love [giving tours] — I love talking to people and getting to meet people, especially prospective students. I’m really excited to move to 36 University Place and experience the change.”