University’s New Lakeside Complex Emphasizes a Sense of Community
With its brick and wood-frame buildings linked by landscaped pathways sloping down toward Lake Carnegie, Princeton University’s Lakeside Graduate Student Community is worlds away from the stark, concrete Hibben and Magie apartment buildings that previously housed graduate students and their families on the same site. Tenants began moving into the complex, which is located on Faculty Road near Alexander Street, early this month. By the end of the summer, all 329 units — townhouses and apartments of varying configurations — are expected to be filled.
The newly constructed 13-acre development designed by the Arizona-based architects Studio Ma consolidates the graduate students who were living in the Butler and Stanworth locations into one that is closer to the campus, and is designed for a multi-generational population ranging from single residents to families and pets. It is big on sustainability and making the most of its naturalistic setting.
The community’s predecessor, the eight-story Hibben and Magie apartments, were built in the 1960s and “were not meeting today’s goals,” said John Ziegler, the University’s Director of Real Estate Development, during a recent tour. “So it was not so difficult a decision to take the buildings down. Hibben and Magie were somewhat isolated. There was no visual connection to the campus.”
Hibben and Magie had 192 units with a capacity for 512 residents. Its systems were outmoded and its interior layouts were not exactly user-friendly. Even though Lakeside will house more people, its geothermal heating and cooling systems are expected to make the complex about 40 percent more energy efficient than its predecessor. The complex will be LEED Silver Certified, Mr. Ziegler said.
Tenants at Lakeside will be spread out among 74 townhouses and 255 apartments, ranging from one to four bedrooms and one to three bathrooms and costing between $1,217 to $2,512 a month. All of the units, some of which are furnished, have dishwashers and full-size washers and dryers — none of which was offered at Hibben and Magie. Kitchens have more storage and counter space, and units with doors to the outside are open to residents with pets.
Chief among the attractions is a 6,000-square-foot center that includes lounges, study rooms, a fitness room, a playroom for children, a communal kitchen, and a large patio with a grill area. Called The Commons, the center is designed to encourage social interactions. Wooden stools made from trees that were taken down at the site are part of the contemporary design in the main seating area, which also boasts a large gas fireplace.
“We wanted opportunities for students to encounter and react with each other,” said Andrew Kane, assistant vice president of University Services. Biking trails, a basketball court open on all sides, and community gardens are also part of the site.
While completely different in its style and materials, the new complex is built, for the most part, on the footprint of the old. “The massing of apartment buildings is shifted, affording more vignettes rather than just two large buildings,” Mr. Ziegler said. “It’s nestled into the woods. The others were icons.”
Efforts were made to preserve the natural features of the site. “Most of the buildings and roads were built on what were prior impervious surfaces,” Mr. Ziegler said. “We only took down a little bit of the trees. Almost everything was preserved, and we planted many, many additional trees and shrubs around the site.”
University administrators sought input from the student community before deciding how to proceed with the new complex. Student government, surveys, and focus groups provided ideas, while the analysis of years of applications were helpful in deciding how space should be assigned, Mr. Kane said.
It will take all summer for Lakeside to be filled, but the few who have moved in appear to be enthusiastic. “It’s anecdotal, but I’ve heard of some high-fives on moving day,” Mr. Ziegler said.