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Updates in campus construction timelines: A focus on sustainability and accessibility

Three signs on a metal grate, with Art Museum construction in the background. The leftmost sign reads "Shared Path to Chapel Dr," the middle sign reads "Princeton Builds Pathways" with a map of the campus, and the rightmost sign reads "Shared Path."
Princeton Builds Pathways sign near the Art Museum construction site.
Photo by Mary McCoy / The Daily Princetonian

As students continue to confront numerous construction projects, especially in the center of campus, small construction areas near Whitman College and Dillon Gym are expected to be finished in the next several months.

Current projects include the University’s conversion of its heating system to hot water from steam and expanding accessible pathways.

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Steam tunnels

The steam to hot water conversion project is an objective of the University’s sustainability action plan. It includes the construction of two new energy facilities, TIGER and the Central Utility Building (CUB). TIGER was opened earlier this year and is a space for geo-exchange.

The steam to hot water conversion project has caused road closures and inconveniences to students since the beginning of 2022 but is continuing to make steady progress.

TIGER is home to tanks of water which will be used to heat and cool the campus. Geo-exchange bores continue to be installed across campus, including under the Hobson College site and Poe Field. Around two thousand bores are expected to be installed by 2033. CUB provides geo-exchange facilities to the Meadows Neighborhood. The water stored in the tanks in both facilities are “designed and sized to store energy for use during times that are both economically and environmentally.”

The University has already completed sections of the project, including the area between the Community Hall of Whitman College and Elm Drive where 52 boreholes were installed last year. 

Other areas such as the site to the south of Dillon Gym, next to Fisher Hall in Whitman College, can be expected to be operational at the end of the academic year. According to University Spokesperson Jennifer Morrill, this site is “awaiting engineering input” but “it is anticipated that the area will be infilled and restored with a temporary ramp” prior to Reunions and Commencement. 

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Morrill explained that the temporary ramp will be replaced when final restoration has taken place later in the summer.

The work alongside Washington Road around Frist Campus Center and the area next to Baker Lane and Whitman College is expected to be finished by the end of March.

Morrill explained that “pedestrian access will be restored” after the work has been completed. Other accessible pathways are expected to be completed across campus alongside the continuation of construction projects.

Campus pathways

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The campus plan proposes an East-West Campus Connector, providing a “continuous path from the Graduate College through the Central Campus to the East Campus.” Meanwhile, the North-South Campus Connector proposed is set to stretch from the Engineering Quad to the Lake Campus, “providing an attractive pathway for pedestrians and cyclists along with modest vehicular use.”

These pathways are set to “ensure a complete network of accessible paths across the campus,” according to the campus plan.

In an email to The Daily Princetonian, University Spokesperson Ahmad Rizvi explained that “where feasible, stairs are being replaced with accessible sloped pathways.” This includes locations such as between Guyot Hall and Frist Campus Center, south of Brown Hall, and along Elm Drive sidewalk when the pathway has been restored.

According to the current campus plan, the Central Campus has “fine-grained” pedestrian access, while the East Campus does not have an “interconnected network.” The Lake Campus remains “largely undeveloped.”

report from 2019 collected summaries of traffic counts by time on Oct. 15, 2019. For Central Campus locations, including Chapel Drive, Elm Drive, McCosh Walk, Off Elm Drive, and Pyne Drive, pedestrians and bicycles made up the vast majority of the campus traffic with more than three thousand pedestrians using these pathways throughout the day.

Rizvi explained that updated versions of these counts will be completed alongside the completion of some of the larger projects of the 2026 campus plan. He said the new counts will be used to “understand changes in how pedestrians and cyclists are navigating the campus” and to decide if the work on campus infrastructure is effective.

Other campus construction updates include the opening of the first phase of the renovation of Dillon Gym in January and plans submitted in December 2023 for the Quantum Institute for Quantum Science and Engineering. Hobson College — Princeton’s eighth undergraduate college — and the Environmental Studies (ES) and School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) buildings on Ivy Lane are among other projects set to be complete by 2026.

Victoria Davies is an assistant News editor for the ‘Prince.’

Matteo Torres is a News contributor for the ‘Prince.’

Please send corrections to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.

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