Princeton University expansion proposals include new lake campus and residential college

The new Princeton University campus planning framework envisions a new lake campus. This drawing shows a perspective looking north toward Lake Carnegie and the Delaware and Raritan Canal. Princeton University illustration via Princeton University Communications. 

Princeton University officials have provided new details on the school’s potential expansion plans for the next decade and beyond. The proposed plans include a new lake campus in West Windsor and a new residential college south of Poe Field.

School officials issued a “planning framework” today that lists proposed locations for several projects. The framework will guide campus development over the next 10 years “in the context of potential needs and developments over the next 30 years.”

The new lake campus would be built on land south of Lake Carnegie in West Windsor. The proposed campus would be a mixed-use area that could accommodate athletic facilities, administrative and academic buildings, housing for up to 500 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, retail space, and a parking area and transit hub with shuttle, pedestrian and bicycle connections to other parts of the campus and the area.

Walkways and bike paths to and through the lake campus are proposed, including a pedestrian bridge that would cross the lake and the Delaware and Raritan Canal at a location between Washington Road and Harrison Street. The bridge would be integrated into the regional bicycle and sidewalk networks in Princeton, West Windsor and Plainsboro.

A new residential college is proposed for university land south of Poe Field, east of Elm Drive, and near the existing Butler, Wilson and Whitman colleges. While only one new residential college is needed to accommodate the university’s proposed increase of 125 students per class, school officials said the site could accommodate a second college later. The development of the first residential college on the site would require the relocation of the Class of 1895 Softball Field and the Lenz Tennis Center. New and improved facilities for softball and tennis would be built on the new lake campus, which already includes a rugby field and cross-country course, school officials said. The new tennis site would include a racquet center for indoor tennis and squash, along with other outdoor courts for recreational use. A hockey arena with two sheets of ice to replace the aging Baker Rink is proposed for the new campus. Other sports facilities could  be moved to the lake campus as part of a proposed “athletics hub” that would include locker rooms, coaches’ offices, training facilities and other amenities. A campus shuttle would transport student athletes to and from the facilities.

Lands the university owns east of Washington Road would be used for engineering and environmental studies buildings. Engineering and environmental studies would be located along the north side of Ivy Lane and Western Way. The location is near existing engineering spaces that would remain in place. Once new spaces become available, school officials said they would decide whether to renovate, re-purpose or replace some or all of the existing engineering quadrangle buildings, as well as  Guyot and Eno halls.

To meet Princeton University’s parking needs, school officials want to build a a parking garage on the current Lot 21 on the east campus and a new surface parking lot on the lake campus that would be connected to the rest of the campus and the community by pathways for walking and biking and by TigerTransit shuttles.

School officials have also identifies potential locations to reserve for future housing for faculty and staff, as well as for graduate students and post-doctoral researchers. The Butler Tract would  be set aside for future use for university housing and the Springdale Golf Club would be used for educational purposes. The framework does not make specific recommendations for how to use the Springdale lands. Any future development would not occur for at least 10 years, and development would be “sensitive to potential impacts on the adjacent neighborhood; would enhance the stream corridor through these lands and recognize the historic attributes of the property; and would seek to improve public access to open space on the site, including via pedestrian and cycling pathways,” according to university officials.

To facilitate pedestrian and cycling movement throughout the campus, the framework proposes two campus connectors — an east-west connector from the Graduate College on the west of the central campus to the east campus near the new engineering and environmental studies buildings, and a north-south connector on the east campus from Nassau Street to the proposed pedestrian bridge and the lake campus.

The framework also proposes an enhanced “diagonal walk” from Mathey College in the northwest of the central campus to the McCosh Health Center, options for expanding the capacity of the school’s health services, the development of an “enhanced activity node” in the area near Frist Campus Center, Guyot Hall and McCosh Health Center, and the reconfiguration of the site where Wilson College is located.

Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber said the framework provides options that allow Princeton to achieve its strategic objectives over the next 10 years, while preserving its capacity to respond flexibly to changing needs over the next 30 years and beyond.

Treby Williams, the executive vice president of the university, said the plan represents “the most ambitious and comprehensive planning process” in Princeton University’s history.

While the planning framework suggests possible locations and options for campus development, school officials said the plan does not determine whether or when Princeton University will proceed with projects or what they will look like. School officials are developing a capital plan to determine which structures they will aim to build and when, and officials are engaged in a campaign planning process to determine how much money the university will be able to raise to pay for the projects.

University Architect Ron McCoy said the plan will be remembered for “providing flexible options for stewardship of the central campus, renewal of the eastern campus, and, with the option to expand across Lake Carnegie, a vision for a fundamentally new era in the history of the campus.”

You can view the 2016 strategic planning framework document, here