Princeton University 2026 Campus Plan

Post by Urban Strategies Blog Moderator, January 11, 2015

We want your input!

What key considerations should the 2026 Campus Plan address?

Please review the About the Project  and Campus Plan Primer page for information regarding the 2026 Campus Plan, and let us know your thoughts. This is the beginning of a conversation we look forward to having with you over the next two years.

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30 thoughts on “We want your input!”

  1. In the 16 years that I have served Princeton I have experienced the changing Campus on a day to day basis. I do have a particular concern that I would like to see addressed more intensively: Parking, Commuter Solutions and On Campus Transportation.

    When I arrived in Princeton in 1999 there was still plenty of Staff Housing to be rented from the University and I know many staff members that would walk to work. Over the years staff housing has been reduced. At the same time with the ongoing gentrification of many former affordable parts of Princeton, buying a home in Princeton is no longer affordable for the majority of the staff. I do not have any data to offer but as a rough estimate I’d say over 80% of the staff has to commute to Princeton.

    We lost the parking area that used to be where LSI and PNI now reside. Having to park in Lot 21 or the West Garage and either walk or take the bus to the Central Campus adds time to the commute for which we have to leave earlier from home. Moving Parking lots further and further away from campus does free up space to expand programs and departments but it also creates an area of “no leave” once you have entered. A staff member cannot run a quick errand in his/ her lunch break anymore since most of the break would be consumed just reaching the car.

    1. Hi Axel, thanks for your comment. We have also heard that housing affordability in Princeton is a challenge for staff, and the Campus Plan team is carefully considering the relationships between housing and commuting. We also understand that parking locations impact people’s daily routines in terms of moving about campus, as well as their ability to access amenities off campus. The Campus Plan is undertaking transportation and parking planning that includes not only parking locations but also “last mile” strategies to ensure convenient connections between parking locations and on-campus destinations. The Campus Plan team is also considering how improvements to transportation infrastructure and services can support enhanced connections between the campus and destinations in the surrounding communities.

      -Josh

  2. Joshua

    I’m grateful that Princeton provides housing for graduate students for their first three years, but I know that many students are of the opinion that it would be great if on-campus housing could be provided for the full duration of a graduate program. This will require constructing more graduate housing, but I don’t see this addressed anywhere on the Campus Plan.

    1. Urban Strategies Blog Moderator

      Thank you for your comment. The Campus Planning team has been studying the current supply of graduate student housing on campus. While the demand for University housing among graduate students is greater than the supply, we are considering opportunities to provide additional housing in order to provide greater stability for graduate students.

  3. Concerned Graduate Student

    [This feedback is anonymized, please provide an anonymous feedback option in the future]

    Where are the plans to make a Princeton education affordable for students with children? With Lakeside apartments replacing Butler apartments, a graduate education at Princeton is outside the financial reach of many students with children without needing to take out loans or find other financial assistance. I live in the cheapest on-campus accommodations I can (and old two-bedroom apartment), and it costs me more than half my monthly income just to live here. It’s difficult to find cheaper options off campus because they are usually far away from campus and can be in neighborhoods that aren’t safe. Also, living off campus increases transportation expenses to get to campus so the financial benefits of living off campus are partially cancelled. I personally have to pursue a part-time tutoring job just to make ends meet, which can sometimes interfere with my academic work. My friends with children who have spouses that don’t and can’t work also have to come up with similarly creative and unenjoyable solutions to their financial problems.

    These things do not have to be! Butler apartments, while old and ugly, were affordable for families living off of just a single graduate student stipend. Princeton should either construct its own similarly affordable family-focused housing or locate similar housing somewhere off campus and sublet an appropriate number of those apartments and run a shuttle service to those apartments. The campus plan is filled with beautiful visions of how to make campus more beautiful, more useful, and more superb, but nowhere have I seen it mention making itself more affordable. If the University truly is committed to attracting the best and brightest students and providing means for them to come here regardless of financial situation, then it needs to take a hard look at the family situation. In my experience, the lesser concerns of the majority of students have had more resources thrown at them the major concerns of a minority of students, and the family affordability situation is one of these major concerns of a minority of students. All it would take is for the University to build a few buildings with economy in mind, instead of extravagance, so that the housing could be affordable for students with families.

    The high price of housing, the poor quality of the housing and maintenance relative to the price I pay, as well as the general neglect I’ve felt towards many aspects of my family situation, cause me to regret more and more every day my decision to come to Princeton. Please, fix this so future students don’t have to have the same experience as me.

    1. Urban Strategies Blog Moderator

      Thank you for sharing your experience and concerns about graduate housing at Princeton. It must be very challenging to support a family as a student and we have heard multiple comments about the need for more housing options at Princeton for graduate students. The Task Force on the Future of the Graduate School has recognized the importance of providing housing in supporting graduate student success, as well as supporting a sense of community amongst graduate students. The provision of graduate housing in an important consideration of the Campus Plan and we are also exploring opportunities to improve transportation options to campus for graduate students living further away.

  4. YK

    Since this seems to include Transit, I think that Princeton needs to consider the fact that many graduate students, staff and faculty do or want to live in New York. These include a large subset of this population, and as per my experience, many admitted PhD students or junior/senior researchers with Princeton offers refuse to come because Princeton cannot offer the benefits of a large city.

    As of today, commuting to/from New York on a daily basis is a heavy burden.

    Princeton could easily work on that, for example by getting a fleet of buses to and from different locations in the City. Compared to the overall budget for Princeton’s development, the cost of such project should be rather low.

    1. Urban Strategies Blog Moderator

      Thank you YK for your comment. The Campus Planning team is considering how the campus connects to the broader region, and how improved transit and road connections can help people get to and from the University. The Campus Plan will not make specific recommendations about bus services to New York, but will include strategies to improve commuting and connectivity in the future.

  5. Spencer Hill

    The Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (AOS) is located in Sayre Hall on Princeton’s Forrestal Campus. It would be highly desirable for AOS to be relocated to main campus. Because of the program’s extremely close relationship with the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) — across the street from Sayre Hall and which houses roughly 1/2 of AOS graduate students and most of the faculty — this would require moving GFDL to main campus as well. This obviously is not a small task, but it would vastly improve the quality of the AOS student experience and would foster collaboration with other departments. Simply put, being on Forrestal campus is isolating. Although I don’t speak directly for anybody else, I assure you that this sentiment is shared by a large number of AOS students and professors.

    1. Urban Strategies Blog Moderator

      Hi Spencer, thanks for sharing your thoughts on the location of the Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (AOS). The Campus Planning Team is studying the existing uses on the Forrestal Campus and identifying opportunities to improve connections to the main campus. We’ll be sure to consider your note about AOS in our ongoing work.

  6. Aaron Kurosu

    1) Changing all the lamp-posts to reflect the modern forms of lighting-technology they enclose. The current lamps are so directly-bright they make it hard for my eyes to adjust at night—further enhancing the perceived dark shadows. If possible, perhaps also consider a warmer hue that would be less disruptive to our circadian system. While you’re at it, make sure it’s easy for students to add and remove public advertisements/signage.
    2) Removing the need for the pedestrian warning lights on Washington road; they are sometimes so bright they’re blinding. This may mean moving the street (underground?), or building bridges.
    3) Well planned bike paths—that are easy to maintain during the winter (in terms of de-icing).
    4) More graduate-housing with a system that doesn’t threaten graduate students to potentially move every year. …Or Consider designing some “cots” for commuters from Philadelphia or NYC who sometimes would prefer to spend the night in town.
    5) Avoid amplifying the wind-tunnel effect. Some parts of campus are unbearably cold and windy during the winter.
    6) Don’t build new things that look old (thank you for not continuing to do this).
    7) Improve the taste of the tap-water.
    8) Have continuous wifi available all over the campus.
    9) Lobby against the township’s laws against Uber and other ride-sharing platforms.

    1. Urban Strategies Blog Moderator

      Hi Aaron, thanks for sharing your ideas. A key priority of the Campus Plan is to improve the experience and comfort of the campus environment. We are also assessing opportunities to improve pedestrian and bicycle connectivity to all parts of campus along with the need graduate housing.

  7. Mike Kelvington

    There should be more options for motorcycle parking on campus, potentially add a few spots near or beside some of the bicycle racks around the campus. Closest place to park for students for designated parking for a place like Woodrow Wilson School is down by the football stadium in lot 21.

    1. Urban Strategies Blog Moderator

      Mike,

      Thanks for your comment. We will share your note with the transportation planners we have on the planning team to make sure that they consider motorcycle parking in the plan.

      Best,

      Josh

  8. Max Friedfeld

    Installing crosswalks on Washington Road that have button-activated lights embedded in the road (as opposed to on the side of the road) will go a long way to limiting pedestrian accidents. Especially on the south end of Washington Road, cars are currently unlikely to stop for pedestrians with the current set up and it is very dangerous for pedestrians.

    1. Urban Strategies Blog Moderator

      Hi Max,

      Thanks for sharing your concern about Washington Road and your idea for addressing safe crossings. The Campus Planning team, including transportation planners, are working closely with the University to determine some near- and long-term solutions for Washington Road to ensure that pedestrians and cyclist can cross it and ride on it safely. I’ll pass your note on to the team.

      Best,

      Josh

  9. George

    Hello,

    I think the campus still needs to improve its accessibility for people in wheelchair. There are many paths with curbs or very sharp ascents. That improvement would help bike riders as well.

    Hope this helps,
    George

    1. Urban Strategies Blog Moderator

      Hi George, thanks for writing. Your comment is helpful. We are certainly considering accessibility as we plan for new or improved circulation routes on campus. Our planning team includes transportation planners and wayfinding specialists and we’ll make sure that your concerns are taken into account. The architects and landscape architects on our team also have years of experience on campus and are actively finding ways to better connect the campus with accessible routes that enhance the campus experience—this is really embedded in our overall planning approach. The University continues to address accessibility at specific locations and buildings.

      Best,

      Josh

  10. Noah Mihan

    Princeton’s Wilson Residential College is on its way to being overdue for a renovation. It is the last of the colleges to be still without air conditioning, a frankly ugly aesthetic on the inside and out, and little to no basic amenities such as water fountains. Students dread being put in Wilson before coming to Princeton. The architecture simply does not reflect the Princeton community. The cinderblock-walls, jail-like decorations, and others dampen the academic mood here at Wilson. In Rocky or Mathey, or in fact, any other residential college, students feel inspired by the architecture, not depressed like Wilson makes them. There is a reason why no campus tours go down to Wilson. It is ugly and derelict. The best option for the University would be to demolish the current dorms (save perhaps Walker Hall) and build anew. This would give the University an opportunity to regain its character down-campus, reinstitution newer, more gothic architecture that everyone in the world has come to admire about Princeton. I’m really interested to hear what plans you have for our residential college in the coming years!

    Thanks for listening!

    -Noah

    1. Urban Strategies Blog Moderator

      Thanks for writing, Noah.

      We’ve heard about some of the challenges of living in Wilson College from students and staff members. We are in the process of considering the University’s needs with respect to student housing, including the conditions and locations are important to students and campus vibrancy. It’s helpful to hear that architectural quality is important to you, and that you see the Wilson College site as an opportunity to enhance that part of campus. The Campus Plan recommendations about student housing will take into account the condition of existing Residential Colleges, and will provide recommendations on the future of Wilson College. These recommendations will include broad guidelines about the size and location of buildings. More detailed architectural choices for individual buildings will be made by the Office for the University Architect (OUA) and project architects.

      Sincerely,

      Josh

      1. Joe Redmond

        My hope is that, when the University builds a new residential college, they move Wilson students into that college before increasing the size of the student body. While the Wilson students inhabit the new college, renovation can be done on the current site (hopefully a complete reconstruction with an aesthetic as thoughtful as the plans for the new Arts & Transit Center). That way, rebuilding Wilson, creating a new residential college, and increasing student enrollment would happen seamlessly, in stages over a few years.

        Without such a drastic plan, I see the likelihood of Wilson being redone being low, since improving aesthetics comes second to increasing enrollment. I would caution that increasing the quality of student life at Princeton by creating a stronger community for more students should be the goal of the campus plan well before we plan an bringing more students into Princeton.

        Wilson is not just ugly. It poses a far more concerning problem, which is that it lacks any sense of community, which is a problem I see as directly related to the layout of the college: few communal spaces for zee groups or the general college community and disjointed buildings.

        Thank you for your considerations!

        – Joe Redmond ’18

        1. Urban Strategies Blog Moderator

          Thanks for your comment Joe. Your suggestion is helpful. The sense of community of Princeton’s residential colleges is a unique and defining part of the campus’s identity. Improving the quality of facilities and the overall student experience of is one of the key consideration for the Campus Planning Team. As the Campus Plan is developed we will carefully consider the phasing of new projects in order to accommodate existing needs, as well as future growth.

  11. […] campus planning team is excited to hear your thoughts and feedback. Join the conversation (by clicking here) and let us know what you […]

  12. […] campus planning team is excited to hear your thoughts and feedback. Join the conversation here and let us know what you […]

  13. Zach Horton

    I would echo Nicholas’s remarks. In addition, I think it is of utmost importance to preserve and promote beauty in campus architecture and landscaping. Whitman College aside, campus architecture of the last few decades has overlooked that critical criterion, resulting in universally disliked eyesores to the likes of New South and, ironically, the Architecture Building. Architecture should not be an insular discipline driven by experts in pursuit of new esoteric modes of building. University architecture is for the campus community to use day in and day out. How we see and interact with the buildings matters. And, as is well known, alumni and students prize Holder Tower, say, much more than Wu Hall as emblematic of Princeton. Living beneath Gothic spires enlivens the soul. There is something human about continuity with longstanding tradition that is distinctly lacking in the modular, prefabricated designs of modernism. My suggestion, therefore, is that the campus plan reflect the human need for beauty and tradition.

    1. Urban Strategies Blog Moderator

      Hi Zach, thanks for your post. We completely agree that campus architecture is about use by the campus community, and that buildings must relate well to each other and to the overall campus landscape and setting. The question of Princeton’s essential scale and character is really central to our planning process. While this 2026 Campus Plan won’t include specific building designs, we will provide broader design guidelines to ensure that future development and campus change create the types of buildings and spaces that enliven the campus. The team that will develop these guidelines includes planners, urban designers, architects, and landscape architects, so the recommendations will be based on a holistic consideration of what makes a successful campus setting. The idea is that with the right planning framework, there will be continuity of the best aspects of Princeton’s architecture while providing room for architectural expression.

    2. Vidushi Sharma

      I think Zach put this beautifully and is representative of the thoughts of many of my friends. I also want to stress the importance of having open space. I’ve spoken to professors and students who’ve been dismayed at the various sculptures put up around campus and aesthetically displeasing buildings that have replaced open areas of land. (E.g, the sculpture behind Lewis Library, where there were once trees and professors taught math classes outdoors!) The Whitman area also used to be two prized spots on campus for enjoying a game of frisbee or laying in the grass. Please consider carefully whether impinging on open space is necessary. If so, I would like to see it proceed with a more traditional aesthetic than most of our new buildings.

      1. Urban Strategies Blog Moderator

        Hi Vidushi,

        Thanks for joining the conversation. The campus planning team has heard from many people at Princeton that open spaces are very important on campus, and we agree. Working on campus we have been struck by how fluid and cohesive the landscape and open space system is, particularly in the older areas of campus but also in areas that have evolved more recently like the restored stream corridor along Washington. So a key consideration for us is not only how to respect the open spaces on campus as the University evolves, but also how to enhance them, whether through new spaces or improvements to existing spaces. We’ll develop these strategies over the next two phases of work. We’d love to hear from you and your colleagues which open spaces are most important to you and areas where you think there should be open space improvements. Please feel free to post again here or share your thoughts through the Campus Compass tool that will be online on this blog for the next few weeks.

  14. Nicholas Fernandez

    Hello! I have two initial thoughts I’d like to share with you all.

    The first is a hope that consideration is more for the “hardscape” of campus. While many areas, particularly in the upper campus, are particularly attractive with a variety of pavers and slate tiles, many sidewalk and plaza surfaces elsewhere are currently a patchwork of asphalt and concrete. Are there any considerations being made for the phased improvement of sidewalk and outdoor area surfaces to promote greater cohesion or generally more attractive walkable areas? This being said, there are also several areas, particularly around parking lots among residential buildings, and the service zones such as the space between Patton-Wright and the Walker/Wu Wilcox, for example, that could use some visual improvement. Certainly, access to service and transportation is key, but will the campus plan look at addressing the less attractive ‘utilitarian’ areas, and making them more friendly to a cohesive campus experience?

    Another remark I might make echoes those of Professor Maynard who expressed concern for our older structures amid the planning process which will most certainly target which parts of the core campus can be considered for future development when space is already quite tight. I support the need to delineate our standards for building preservation, and hope you will keep the integrity of the architectural, historic fabric at the forefront of this larger process. I might suggest taking a look at the Campus Plan for the University of Notre Dame which specifically states categories of campus buildings. There are those that they will preserve in perpetuity regardless of function (like their Main Building, which is an iconic and irreplaceable fixture of campus) vs. buildings that will be preserved as long as they’re functional, all the way to those structures which have no architectural/historical significance and can easily be demolished when necessary. While this may seem somewhat limiting at the moment, I think it will be a validation of our campus’ worth as one of our greatest assets, and will set a standard for what actions can be deemed acceptable or out of the question over the next few decades.

    I hope this all helps. Please reach out if you have additional questions.

    -Nicholas ’18

    1. Urban Strategies Blog Moderator

      Thanks for posting! You touched on many important issues that we’re considering in the campus planning process. There is definitely an opportunity to improve the hardscape in some parts of campus. The 2026 Campus Plan will cover this in a general sense in that it will provide design guidelines for new and renewed areas of campus. We also have civil engineers on our consulting team who are considering hardscape from the perspective of storm water management, and landscape architects who will consider how hardscaped walkways interact with buildings and green space. We read Professor Maynard’s article and thought he brought up excellent points. The campus planning team is currently reviewing heritage assets on campus (building and places) and the Plan will include guidelines for treating significant buildings and areas as campus evolves. Thanks for pointing us to Notre Dame’s Campus Plan—we always like to consider best practices at other universities. We’re looking forward to sharing our work with you and we hope you’ll keep sharing your ideas with us.

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