December 6, 2017

University Announces Development Plans

By Donald Gilpin

Princeton University yesterday announced plans С or at least “a planning framework” С for several anticipated campus development projects in the coming years, including a new residential college or colleges to permit the University to expand its undergraduate student body by 10 percent, new and improved facilities for engineering and environmental studies, and a new Lake Campus on lands south of Lake Carnegie.

In its “planning framework to guide campus development over the next 10 years,” the University proposed that new facilities for engineering and environmental studies would be located on already developed portions of the campus east of Washington Road and that the new residential college be located south of Poe Field, east of Elm Drive, and near the existing Butler, Wilson, and Whitman colleges.

The proposed Lake Campus in West Windsor is envisioned as a space that would accommodate athletic facilities, administrative and academic space, housing for up to 500 graduate students and potentially for postdoctoral researchers, as well as “convening, retail, and amenity space, and a parking area and transit hub with shuttle, pedestrian, and bicycle connections to other parts of the campus and the community.”

In an introductory essay, Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber wrote that the 2026 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.”

The campus planning process began in July 2014, and the new framework proposes specific locations for several priority projects that were identified in a strategic planning framework that the University adopted in January 2016.

“While the University has a long tradition of thoughtful campus planning, the 2026 framework represents the most ambitious and comprehensive planning process in its history,” said Executive Vice President Treby Williams, who has overseen the plan’s development.

The planning team, led by University Architect Ron McCoy, met with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members, along with local, state, and regional officials. It also held several open meetings in Princeton and West Windsor and invited participation in the process through a campus plan blog website.

“The 2026 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,” McCoy wrote.

The framework makes no recommendation for specific uses of the lands currently leased to the Springdale Golf Club, but it notes that any future development would not occur for at least 10 years, and that any 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.”

While the planning framework suggests possible locations and options for campus development, it does not determine whether or when the University will proceed with the projects or what they will look like. The University is developing a capital plan to determine which structures it will aim to build and when.

The planning framework, intended to evolve over time, “envisions a campus with an expanded student body and one or more new residential colleges; substantially expanded and improved space for engineering and environmental studies; a thoroughly reimagined East Campus; a lively and attractive Lake Campus fully integrated into the University; a geography in which Lake Carnegie has moved from the periphery to the center of the campus; enhanced achievements in multiple forms of sustainability; a significant shift from single-occupancy vehicles to other modes of transit, including walking, cycling, shuttling, and mass transit; and new academic partnerships in an innovative ecosystem that supports the mission of the University and increases its capacity to have a positive impact on the world.”