May 11, 2016

Institute for Advanced Study Rejects Request to Meet On Building Project

The Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) has rejected Senator Kip Bateman (R-16) and Assemblyman Reed Gusciora’s (D-15) request to meet with representatives of the IAS Board concerning the Institute’s faculty housing project, “to discuss alternatives and a possible resolution of this controversy.”

Institute director Robbert Dijkgraaf, in his response Friday, stated that the legislators’ letter “seems to be part of a larger publicity effort to discredit the Institute and mischaracterize its project.”

He cited “misstatements and omissions” in the letter that Mr. Bateman and Mr. Gusciora released to the press on May 4, urging IAS to move its building project elsewhere. Their letter emphasized the “historic significance of the property” on which construction has commenced.

The Princeton Battlefield Society has asked the U.S. District Court for New Jersey to grant a preliminary injunction to halt the project.

Mr. Dijkgraaf’s letter states that the Institute has acquired “all the necessary regulatory approvals” and has been thorough in addressing and accommodating concerns of the public and preservation issues.

“The Institute remains committed to proceeding with its faculty housing project,” the letter states. “The Institute has been a responsible and patient actor throughout this process, which was confirmed and supported by all of the relevant regulatory bodies. We are confident in the thoroughness and sensitivity of our faculty housing project, which meets a critical institutional need.”

Mr. Dijkgraaf’s letter mentioned that the Institute had incorporated a number of changes to their original site plans in working through these issues during the course of six meetings with the Princeton Planning Board, which twice unanimously approved the project.

He also challenged the lawmakers’ assertion concerning the encroachment of the project on the Battlefield Park. “The housing will occupy only 7 acres on our campus,” he wrote, “not 22 acres, as stated in your letter С and by easement we will perpetually preserve the remaining 14 acres adjacent to the Park, all at no cost to the public.”

Mr Bateman and Mr. Gusciora’s letter repeatedly cited the property’s historic importance and connection to the 1777 Battle of Princeton, though the exact location of Washington’s counterattack against British forces continues to be disputed.