Planet Princeton

Princeton University announces proposed locations for new residential college and academic departments, eyes creation of West Windsor campus

Princeton University has identified potential sites for a new undergraduate residential college, the engineering school and environmental studies programs on lands that are part of the school’s existing campus in Princeton. School officials are also considering how to develop land the school already owns in West Windsor that could house academic programs, housing, parking, administrative offices and some athletic facilities.

 

The potential site for a new undergraduate residential college is south of Poe Field and east of Elm Drive, school officials said in an announcement about the proposal. The potential sites for the expansion of the engineering school and environmental studies programs are on land along the north side of Ivy Lane and Western Way, west of FitzRandolph Road, school officials said.

“The University’s strategic planning process identified expansion of the undergraduate student body, engineering, and environmental studies as major priorities for Princeton,” Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber said in a written statement.

“After extensive assessments and consultations with multiple constituencies, we believe our planners have identified promising locations for the facilities necessary to implement these priorities while also preserving sites and options that are essential to sustain the quality of the University’s many ongoing activities and future projects,” he said. “We have more work to do and more consultations to conduct before making final decisions, and we welcome comments from members of our campus, town and alumni communities as we continue to refine our planning.”

Only one new residential college is needed to accommodate a planned increase of 125 students in each undergraduate class, but school officials said the planning process sought to identify sites that could accommodate a second college if needed in the future. The proposed site is south of open space known as the ellipse and near Butler, Wilson and Whitman colleges.

The proposed residential college site would require the relocation of athletic facilities that currently support softball and outdoor tennis. School officials anticipate that new facilities would for these sports would be built on university land south of Lake Carnegie in West Windsor. The campus planning team is working with the school’s department of athletics on a facilities plan with the hope that the athletics facilities that would be located on a campus south of the lake would benefit from enhancements that would be difficult to achieve in their current locations, school officials said.

The new sites for programs in environmental studies and the school of engineering and applied sciences would be located along the north side of Ivy Lane and Western Way, two roads that are owned and maintained by Princeton University. School officials said the area currently is used for surface parking lots. The proposed sites also include land that currently houses the Ferris Thompson faculty and staff apartments.

“The proposed location would facilitate regular interchange between engineering and environmental studies and would provide each of these critical and expanding fields with the new and improved space they need,” Eisgruber said. The location is near existing engineering spaces that will remain in place, officials said.

As part of its campus planning the University is considering possible development of lands it owns just south of Lake Carnegie. The expectation is that West Windsor properties would be used to support the school’s mission of teaching and research, officials said, adding that they are thinking holistically about potential development of these lands as “an integrated extension of its existing campus.” The West Windsor land would support a variety of activities related to academic programs, administrative needs, athletic and recreational uses, housing of various kinds including housing for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, and parking. School officials said all undergraduate housing and all academic classrooms would continue to be located north of the lake.

The campus framework plan will propose alternative locations and approaches for meeting the school’s parking needs, including strategies to reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicles that come to the campus each day, school officials said. Alternative locations for additional faculty and staff housing will be proposed.

Specific proposed configurations within the sites and building designs have not been developed yet, school officials said. It is still unclear how the existing engineering quadrangle or the environmental studies spaces would be used in the future, officials said. After decisions about the proposed sites have been made, school officials will do more detailed planning, select architects and raise funds for the projects.

The campus planning process was launched in the summer of 2014 with a goal of developing a framework to guide the school in making land use decisions for the next decade and to anticipate potential needs for the next three decades. School officials said the planning framework is expected to be completed and made public in the fall of this year.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

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