Adjaye Associates unveil design for Princeton University Art Museum

A new art facility with ‘all fronts and no backs’, interlocking pavilions for galleries and outdoor terraces will replace the existing museum of the Princeton University.

by Zohra Khan Published on : Oct 03, 2020

Adjaye Associates has revealed their vision for a new museum facility for the Princeton University in New Jersey. Conceived as ‘a campus within a campus’, the building is aimed to replace and roughly double the square footage of the existing museum that sits next to the Department of Art and Archaeology and the Marquand Library. The design is helmed by Adjaye Associates in collaboration with New York-based firm Cooper Robertson as the project’s executive architects.

Visualised main entrance to the Princeton University Art Museum | Princeton University Art Museum | Adjaye Associates | STIRworld
Visualised main entrance to the Princeton University Art Museum Image: © Adjaye Associates

The museum’s architecture is envisioned as seven interlocking pavilions comprising art galleries among other recreational spaces in a three storey facility. The monumentality of the entire complex is broken by pockets of intimate spaces closely woven with the landscape.

The building’s exterior features a chunky, undulating façade that presents a welcoming contrast to the otherwise delicate forms of the campus. As per the architects, alternating bands of rough and polished stone surfaces and its ‘pulsating rhythm’ has been inspired by the rich history of the surrounding environment. In addition to stone, bronze and glass are other key materials used in the project.

The Entrance Hall and Grand Stair | Princeton University Art Museum | Adjaye Associates | STIRworld
The Entrance Hall and Grand Stair Image: © Adjaye Associates

The design invites visitors from all directions into the art gallery via multiple entrances and thus boasts a scheme with ‘all fronts and no backs’. The major programs are raised on the upper floors while the ground level is defined as part of the landscape, and it allows access routes into the building.

  • Art gallery | Princeton University Art Museum | Adjaye Associates | STIRworld
    Art gallery Image: © Adjaye Associates
  • A singular “lens” moment at the complex’s northeast corner creates an intimate viewing and reading room | Princeton University Art Museum | Adjaye Associates | STIRworld
    A singular “lens” moment at the complex’s northeast corner creates an intimate viewing and reading room Image: © Adjaye Associates

On the first floor, galleries alternate in volume to accommodate the museum’s rich collection of artefacts. Immersed in the grandeur of these spaces, visitors will simultaneously be exposed to extraordinary vistas of the Princeton campus via large openings or ‘lenses’ in the pavilions façade. Crafted in bronze and glass, these openings with ‘a kind of archway effect’ are designed to lighten the scale of the complex and for bridging a seamless indoor-outdoor connect.

The double-height Grand Hall at the heart of the museum complex | Princeton University Art Museum | Adjaye Associates | STIRworld
The double-height Grand Hall at the heart of the museum complex Image: © Adjaye Associates

In addition to the galleries within the Princeton University Art Museum design, other facilities include a Grand Hall for cultural events, classrooms, labs, outdoor terraces and a rooftop café. Six ground floor entrances are designed keeping in mind ease of circulation and the post pandemic world which would avoid arrival and exit from a singular gateway.

A walk along the north-south “art walk” provides views into the Grand Hall, as well as glimpses into the galleries above | Princeton University Art Museum | Adjaye Associates | STIRworld
A walk along the north-south “art walk” provides views into the Grand Hall, as well as glimpses into the galleries above Image: © Adjaye Associates

Sir David Adjaye, founder of Adjaye Associates describes the project as ‘a space of genuine inquiry’ that encompasses a multiplicity of ideas and people. The project’s construction is expected to begin in 2021 while its opening is anticipated in late 2024.

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