Partners Deborah Berke and Maitland Jones will lead the project.
Winnie Au Partners Deborah Berke and Maitland Jones will lead the project.

On Feb. 8, following a two-stage selection process, Princeton University announced that New York–based Deborah Berke Partners will design the university's next residential buildings. “Expanding our undergraduate student body is an essential feature of our commitment to extend access to a transformative Princeton education, and this project represents a significant step toward that vital goal," said Princeton president Christopher Eisgruber in a release.

Led by firm partners Deborah Berke, FAIA, and Maitland Jones, AIA, the project is part of a larger campus plan that proposes a new residential facility with a capacity to house 125 additional students per class. The campus plan also picks another site that could potentially house a second college. "Princeton’s plan suggested that the first college include buildings of varying heights with at least 500 beds, social spaces, a dining hall, and a kitchen/servery that could also support a second college," said the architects in the same release. The plan also suggested that the second building can be used as a "swing space to enable renovation of the University’s existing housing stock and support a future student expansion."

“Our goal here is to design residential colleges that the students can occupy and make their own,” said Jones in another release. “This requires a balance of spaces that are specific and have a distinctive character with those that are flexible and adaptable. We want to create spaces and experiences at the colleges that bring something new to the larger campus.”

View across Poe/Pardee fields toward the site of the new residential colleges.
Jill Feldman/Princeton University, Office of Communications View across Poe/Pardee fields toward the site of the new residential colleges.

“It is too early to predict any specific design features,” said Ron McCoy, Princeton's campus architect, in a press release. “There will be opportunities for spaces that are vibrant, transparent, open and connected. Likewise, there will be opportunities to create spaces of intimacy and reflection that are warm and comfortable.” Princeton's natural landscape will play a vital role in the design process. Using various elements, including courtyards and pathways, the architects will blend indoor and outdoor spaces. "Sensitivity to the site is also an important part of the firm’s sustainable design approach, which will emphasize passive strategies and a productive, low-maintenance landscape,"said the architects in a release.

According to the university, a fundraising campaign has already commenced which will determine the construction's timeline. As the next step, the firm will work closely with project's stakeholders—including students, faculty, and staff—to create an inclusive plan.

Deborah Berke Partners has more than 30 years of experience in designing various spaces, including higher education and residential projects. The firm is behind the design of the Yale School of Art and the Rockefeller Arts Center at SUNY Fredonia and is currently designing a new residential hall at Dickinson College and a renovation for the Harvard Law School.