There are no fewer than 11 construction projects currently underway on Princeton University campus. All are expected to be completed between the fall of 2023 and spring of 2027 according to the University's construction timeline.
Some of the projects include the development of the Meadows Neighborhood, the expansion of the University Health Services (UHS), and the TIGER and Central Utility buildings, both which are central to the geo-exchange project and the University’s goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2046.
Those most central on the college campus and to students’ everyday lives include Hobson College, the development of Dillon Gym, the renovation of the Art Museum, the construction of the new building complex for environmental studies and the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the work on Poe Field. The Daily Princetonian looked at these projects and their projected completion timeline.
Students moved into Yeh College and New College West, the first among the University’s plans for renovation of existing dorms and housing more upperclassmen, in the fall semester of 2022. Hobson College is a continuation of these plans. The construction of the college is set to be complete in 2027, a delay from the University's initial 2026 projection. The complex is located between the University Health Service (UHS) and Elm Drive, on the site of the former First College.
University spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss described some of the features that students can expect from Hobson College in an email sent to The Daily Princetonian. He said, “the college will house 500 students and include a mix of first-year, sophomore and upper-class rooms and suites.”
The college is also set to contain various social spaces. Plans for the residential college are focused on accessibility, inclusion, and collaboration. Hotchkiss added that the “Hobson College construction will also improve site accessibility, providing east-west connections as well as additional accessible connections up campus and through the new facility.”
Some of the sustainability focuses of Hobson College are the use of stormwater bio-retention systems, geo-exchange technology, and native and adaptive vegetation.
In the vicinity of Hobson College, other construction projects may end earlier. The expansion of UHS is set to be completed on winter 2025, which will include an expansion to promote a more holistic view of wellbeing it will be adjacent to the current McCosh building in Eno Hall, while the current McCosh Health Center might be used for student life. Schmidt Hall, a new computer science building on the site of Guyot Hall should be finished by the summer of 2025.
Dillon Gym and The Class of 1986 Fitness and Wellness Center
The construction around Dillon Gym is anticipated to be completed by the winter of 2025. The project is an expansion and renovation of the current facilities. Students still have access to parts of the facilities while construction proceeds.
“The Class of 1986 Fitness and Wellness Center project includes an addition that will house new fitness areas and workout studios,” Hotchkiss said.
The project also includes the renovation of the south portion of the A level and the Stephens Fitness Center. Hotchkiss noted that “the renovation will create additional recreation and fitness options.” He added that “recreational use of the pool will be available once again when it re-opens in Spring 2024.”
According to the University website, the overall goal of the expansion and renovation is to provide opportunities for a larger campus community and “[increase] accessibility to most of the building from the pool up to the main gym.”
Hotchkiss described some of the sustainable construction techniques being used on the gym which include: the use of mass timber as a low-carbon alternative to concrete and steel; natural ventilation; and the incorporation of green roofs as stormwater management strategies.
The Art Museum
The construction of a new Art Museum building was announced in 2018 and started in the summer of 2021. With construction at a central location on campus, this project is most notable in terms of noise, obstructions, and effect on aesthetics.
The renovation is set to increase gallery exhibition areas by 38 percent and provide visible storage which will allow easier access to the collections. The new Museum will encompass the former Art Museum, Department of Art and Archaeology, and the Marquand Library. According to the plans, it is set to “bring the University community together and serve as a cultural gateway to the Princeton campus for the wider public.”
The building is expected to be complete in 2024 according to the construction timeline, although the Art Museum will not open until the spring of 2025. Regardless, the Princeton community can hope to be able to see the Museum’s expansive collections again within the next two years.
The University’s goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2046 is a large focus for many of the ongoing construction projects. The work on Poe Field is a crucial part of this goal.
This construction project is focused on the implementation of geo-exchange and stormwater systems. Hotchkiss noted that “1,500 geo-exchange bores [are] planned for central campus as a part of the campus infrastructure conversion,” and the construction on Poe Field includes the installation of nearly 400 of these geo-exchange bores. A further 300 geo-exchange bores have been installed on the Hobson College site and Whitman Lawn area. The geo-exchange system these bores support reduces the campus energy footprint by using the ground as a renewable heat source in winter and heat sink in summer.
Hotchkiss said “Poe Field construction is anticipated to be complete by Fall 2024 and will include the full restoration of Poe Field as a campus recreation and social space.” This is a more ambitious timeline than the University previously projected, initially suggesting the project would take three semesters, or lasting until Spring 2025.
ES + SEAS
A major project south of Prospect Street, the construction of a new campus village for engineering departments is one of the most ambitious parts of the campus plan. A series of new buildings will host four engineering departments. The complex is set to open in 2025 as well. While the new buildings will open, the transition away from the current E-Quad may take longer: new buildings for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and other relevant centers and departments are still prospective and have not been started.
In plans, the University has highlighted the community elements of the new complex and integration with the rest of campus.
Phase of campus construction
Hotchkiss addressed a number of the concerns regarding construction raised by the student body.
“Updating residential colleges that are no longer programmatically up to standard will be considered for the next capital plan,” he wrote. “Students will have input into these projects as they evolve.”
The first phase of the 10-year dormitory replacement program was completed over the summer, including — according to Hotchkiss — “the installation of over 1,000 casegood furniture sets and in-suite living room furniture” in nine dormitories within Rockefeller and Mathey College. This furniture has already been deployed in New College West and Yeh College and is set to be included in other residential colleges and upperclassmen housing across campus within the next ten years.
Hotchkiss said that “no new projects are scheduled to begin in the immediate future” but warned students that they may see more effects of the current construction plans. Hotchkiss referenced a recent Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC) meeting where Associate Vice President of Capital Projects Dozie Ibeh said that on-campus construction was “ramping up” — noting “Many projects are moving from a stage of demolition and structural construction [...] to exterior construction and interior fitout.” He added that “students may expect to see more subcontractors entering project sites.”
Victoria Davies is a News contributor for the ‘Prince.’
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