Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 36
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
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Completed PU Construction Projects Include Architect Gehry’s Lewis Library

Dilshanie Perera

The new buildings on the Princeton University campus are bridging gaps both spatial and disciplinary. The Lewis Library, which is slated to open on the first day of the school year, September 11, will bring together scientific tomes from various disciplines into a single space. The new engineering building will allow social scientists and engineers to combine forces.

Construction on the respective buildings, in addition to other campus construction projects that have recently been completed, has taken between a few months to a few years. In addition to the library and engineering building, there is a new soccer facility, the Roberts Stadium, that can seat 2,356 spectators.

University spokesperson Cass Cliatt said that “providing a world-class facility that reflected the talent of our soccer teams was the motivation behind this new stadium. The men and women’s teams will be able to train and play their regular season games in a facility that has more amenities, and also the seating to accommodate an enthusiastic base of fans interested in watching them play.”

Ms. Cliatt elaborated on the other buildings, including one that will house the Department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering (ORFE) and the Center for Information Technology Policy, saying that “the building is one part of the engineering school’s goals to add space for interdisciplinary research.” Engineers and social scientists will work together to address issues related to advances in computer technology. “The creation of more space for this research also acknowledges the growing interest in the field,” she added.

Perhaps the most visible addition to the campus landscape is the Lewis Library, designed by architect Frank Gehry. In addition to the map collection and the digital map and geospatial information center, the building will house the astrophysics, biology, chemistry, geosciences, mathematics, physics, and statistics library collections.

Other occupants include the Office of Information Technology’s Education Technologies Center and New Media Center, Broadcast Center, and the computational science and engineering support group for Computational Science and Engineering and the Office of Information Technology.

The structure is in some ways signature Gehry, incorporating 88,000 pounds of embossed stainless steel panels. Mr. Gehry designed it to bridge the space between the smaller buildings along Ivy Lane and Fine Tower. “We have matched the scale and texture of these neighbors,” he noted, adding that the “smaller building elements” of the library are closer to the street, while the library tower is adjacent to that of Fine.

Regarding the use of the space, Ms. Cliatt anticipated that it will “make it easier for researchers to study materials in one place from different academic disciplines that are the focus of their work.” Interactions between scientists and “collaboration can happen more easily in a place where scholars can share space and ideas while delving into the materials that support their research,” she added.

Spaces in which people study and do research can influence their ideas as well. Mr. Gehry suggested that “scientists who are focused on complex issues may find that the abstract landscape of the building will stimulate their imagination and perhaps lead them to thinking outside the box.”

“The designs are inspired by the visual world that surrounds us, and by art,” he professed.

An inside view of the Lewis Library and more information will be found in next week’s issue of the Town Topics.

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