steven holl opens lewis arts complex at princeton university

steven holl architects has designed a major new addition to princeton university’s growing campus in new jersey. the ‘lewis arts complex’ significantly expands the site’s performance, rehearsal, and teaching spaces with a suite of new facilities. the project also serves as a new gateway for the school, helping delineate the campus while maximizing pedestrian traffic. ‘we feel grateful to realize this work as an instrument of inspiration for students of the future,’ said steven holl on the building’s opening.

UPDATE: this article was originally published on ocotber 9, 2017 and has been updated to include new photographic and video documentation of the project.

steven holl lewis arts complex
image © paul warchol | video by spirit of space

designed by steven holl architects in partnership with BNIM architects, the new multi-building arts complex is located on the south edge of princeton’s campus, adjacent to mccarter theatre center. the complex comprises three distinct buildings that are connected below ground with an 8,000 square-foot gathering space. above, an outdoor plaza with a reflecting pool features skylights that filter natural light into the forum below. designed as an ‘open public invitation’, this gateway space aims to connect the local community with the university.

the largest of the site’s three buildings is the wallace dance building and theater, which contains a steel black-box theater and smaller dance theaters in foamed aluminum, white washed wood, and board formed concrete. the second structure, the stone ‘arts tower’, responds to the proportions of princeton’s historic blair arch. developed with an ’embedded’ concept, the structure includes the hurley gallery, administrative offices, and additional studios. finally, the new music building is developed according to the idea of ‘suspension’. above the large orchestral rehearsal room, acoustically separate wooden chambers — used for practice — are suspended on steel

named after the late peter b. lewis, a former university trustee who gifted $101 million to the university in 2006, the concrete structure of the three buildings is faced in thick 21-million-year-old lecce stone quarried in southern italy. ‘inspired by the ambition and vision of the university and lewis center, we created a performing arts building shaped by porosity and circulation that would interconnect the arts and the princeton community in a dynamic new campus space,’ explains partner noah yaffe.