Princeton University is forming a new 10-year road map for developing the land it owns. The university has released documents describing the early stages of its 2026 Campus Plan, which includes a grid of walking trails on the West Windsor and Plainsboro side of the campus, connecting it to the main campus; new facilities; the eventual redevelopment of the Springdale Golf Club; and an expansion to accommodate a 10 percent increase in the student body.
On September 19 representatives of Princeton University gave a status report on the plan to Princeton residents, council members, and planning committee members.
The new plan, which will succeed the university’s 2016 Campus Plan, will establish a framework to guide the evolution of the campus through 2026 and beyond.
The previous plan included nearly 20 building projects, most of which have been completed, including the administration building at 701 Carnegie Center, the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, and new facilities for psychology and neuroscience, chemistry, and operations research and financial engineering.
Among the projects still underway are the Arts & Transit neighborhood at the intersection of University Place and Alexander Street and the 128-unit faculty and staff housing complex on Bayard Lane at the site of the former Merwick Rehabilitation Center and Stanworth Apartments.
Also nearing completion is work on the former Frick chemistry lab at 20 Washington Road, near William Street. Now known as the Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building and Louis A. Simpson International Building, the renovated structure will feature two major sections with distinct architecture and separate entrances. With construction expected to finish this fall, the buildings will house economics and international program offices that are currently scattered throughout campus.
The plan will encompass most of the land the university owns and will consider two planning horizons: a 10-year horizon to provide detailed guidance on near-term growth and change, and a 30-year horizon to establish a broader strategy for development of the campus over the next generation.
Key projects for the new campus plan include new facilities for the School of Engineering and Applied Science and for environmental studies, as well as facilities to complement the university’s existing innovation ecosystem — for example the Entrepreneurship Hub on Chambers Street; housing for undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral staff; and initiatives to promote sustainability.
The university speakers noted that while the 2016 Campus Plan focused on the central university campus between Nassau Street and Lake Carnegie, the 2026 plan will also study university-owned land beyond Princeton in West Windsor and its campus lands in Plainsboro.
“The university and the town share a unique relationship,” said Cyndi Rottenberg-Walker, a partner in the Toronto-based firm Urban Strategies Inc., the university’s lead consultant on the 2026 plan.
Noting the planners’ “early thinking,” Rottenberg-Walker showed a map with a potential grid of pathways laid out across the West Windsor lands connecting to the central campus across Lake Carnegie. The map showed two potential bridges crossing the lake for pedestrians and cyclists, providing greater access to the parklands along the lake and future development in West Windsor.
University Vice President and Secretary Robert K. Durkee, University Architect Ron McCoy, and Rottenberg-Walker mentioned the university’s efforts in recent years to enable the community to reach and navigate campus on foot, on bicycles, and by public transit, and to reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicles coming to campus. That effort will continue and expand in the 2026 plan, and McCoy noted national demographic trends showing automobile use on the decline.
A planning committee member asked about the future of Springdale golf course. Rottenberg-Walker noted that the golf club’s lease runs for about 10 more years, but said the long-term use of the land will be to support the university’s educational mission. Planners have not talked specifically about future uses of that property, but any use of the land would include restoring Springdale Creek that runs through the property and would take into account the interests of its neighbors and the property’s history.
Several questions focused on housing as the university looks to expand its undergraduate population — currently roughly 5,400 — by 10 percent in the coming years. The university will build a new residential college, and also expects to construct additional housing for graduate students, post-docs, faculty, and staff. Durkee said that even with the expansion of the student body, the university will continue to keep its focus as a residential learning community.
Asked about plans for the Butler Tract, where old graduate student residences were recently torn down near the intersection of Harrison Street and Hartley Avenue, Durkee said it would be used for housing, but not for undergraduates. “What housing will be there and when is undetermined,” he said. McCoy added that development there would fit with the neighborhood.
Other potential sites for housing include university-owned lands in West Windsor as well as areas of Alexander Street south of University Place, most of which is also university-owned.
University representatives said the 2026 Campus Plan should be completed near the end of summer, 2017.