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2018 MCHAP

Lewis Arts Complex, Princeton Univeristy

Steven Holl

Princeton, NJ, USA

October 2017


Steven Holl / Steven Holl Architects Noah Yaffe


Rob Kruse / BNIM Architects (Associate Architects / Architects of Record) Michael Van Valkenburgh / Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates ( Landscape architects) Nigel Nicholls / Ove Arup & Partners (Structural, MEP, lighting, acoustic and technology engineers`) Marc Simmons / Front, Inc. (Façade consultant) Auerback Pollock Friedlander (Theatrical systems consultant) Vanasse Hangen Brustin, Inc. (Civil Engineer) R.W. Sullivan Engineering (Codes Consultant) Israel Berger / IBA Consulting and Engineering (Waterproofing consultant)


Princeton University


Paul Warchol


The Lewis Center acts as an instrument to bring different disciplines together, shaping the program through three buildings. Each of the three has interiors that were developed uniquely. The Wallace Dance Building and Theater was developed according to the idea of a “thing within a thing”. The interior of the Wallace Theater (black box) is finished in perforated black steel, while the Hearst Dance Theater is finished in foamed aluminum; the Roberts Dance Studio, in whitewashed wood; and the Murphy Dance Studio, in board form concrete. A "dancing stair" connects all levels. The Arts Tower is developed with an “embedded” concept. Its concrete and stone tower references the proportions of the University's nearby historic Blair Arch. The Music Building is developed according to an idea of “suspension”. Above the large orchestral rehearsal room individual practice rooms are suspended on steel rods. Acoustically separate, these individual wooden chambers have a resonant quality. Overlook views into the dance and theater practice spaces and the orchestral rehearsal space are aimed at provoking curiosity and interaction. The buildings are connected underground by the 8,000 square-foot open Forum below the outdoor plaza. The Forum serves as an indoor gathering space and lobby for the various arts venues in the complex. The outdoor plaza, which features a reflecting pool with skylights that filter natural light into the Forum below, is a gateway space to connect the local community to the University and to invite curiosity and interaction.


Founded in 1746, Princeton University has long symbolized the ideals of campus planning. With its generous open space and varied architectural styles, the campus encourages student interaction and expresses a clear sense of place. The design for the Lewis Arts complex aims for maximum porosity of campus movement, opening up new East/West connections and forming a sequence of campus entry spaces shaped by the buildings. The complex is the centerpiece of the University’s current master plan and will serve as a dramatic new gateway between the campus and the community. The Lewis Arts complex is intended to supplement other art spaces on campus and help the University realize its vision of a vibrant campus suffused with the arts. The complex houses performance, teaching, and individual and group studio spaces for the programs in Theater, Dance, Music, Visual Arts and the Princeton Arts Fellows program.


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