November 10, 2021

JZA+D Architects Move to a House In Witherspoon-Jackson District

A MOVE ACROSS TOWN: The architecture firm JZA+D has relocated from 20 Nassau Street to a house on Witherspoon Street, with possible plans to build an addition next door.

By Anne Levin

With architecture firms Richardson Smith, Studio Hillier, and KSS located on Witherspoon Street for the past several years, the thoroughfare might be considered a kind of “architects’ row.” The newest addition to this creative mix is JZA+D, which recently relocated from 20 Nassau Street, soon to become the 180-room Graduate Hotel, to a house at 254 Witherspoon Street.

The house is on a double lot at the corner of Leigh Avenue, across from the Avalon Princeton development. Plans are being explored to expand to the empty lot next to the house, adding a full studio and more.

“Right now, we’re scattered throughout the building, so we want to add on,” said managing partner Joshua Zinder. “We’ve also talked to someone about putting a laundromat into the building. We’re optimistic about having another retail presence or some housing with leftover space. We might do two apartments, but we’re still trying to work that out.”

Zinder and partner Mark A. Sullivan knew they wanted to own rather than rent. “Mostly, we wanted to be in a position where we could be engaged in the community,” Zinder said. “This is a great location for that.”

Zinder considers the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood, designated a historic district in 2016, to be a key Princeton location. “I see the area from town hall [Witherspoon Hall] to Paul Robeson Place as an opportunity to create a more diverse, multicultural, and multi-income community,” he said. “I’m an architect and developer, so I’m very pro-density. I’m glad to see the town is getting behind that.”

Formerly a residence, the house is about 75 years old, Zinder estimates. There is less room for the firm’s 16 employees than at the firm’s former home. “Right now our material library is in the basement,” he said. “But after we’re done, we’ll have more space.”

In a press release about the move, Zinder said, “Our entire staff now enjoys access to natural daylight, with more room for informal collaboration and meetings and better parking options for those who drive. Importantly, the location is central to the community we live and work in — just a 10-minute walk from the center of town, and surrounded by many of our favorite past and current projects like 30 Maclean, Meeting House Restaurant, and the soon-to-open Nelson Glass House.”

After going remote during the pandemic, the firm is now back in the office four days a week. “Architecture is a collaborative process. You can do it on Zoom and Webex, but it’s not quite the same thing as sitting down with somebody and being able to sketch with them,” Zinder said.

Moving to Witherspoon Street puts the architecture firm in the center of an area Zinder considers among Princeton’s most promising. “It’s nice to see the potential of Witherspoon Street
coming to be,” he said. “People don’t like it, but Princeton is now a small city. Where we’re located now will eventually be the middle of it all.”

JZA+D will hold an open house at its new location sometime in May.