Princeton University 2026 Campus Plan

Overview of the physical campus

EVOLUTION OF CAMPUS
SURROUNDING CAMPUS CONTEXT


 

The Princeton campus provides students, faculty and staff with an enriching setting for academic pursuits and community engagement. The main campus supports a mix of academic, research, residential, administrative and athletic uses covering approximately 500 acres, and 180 buildings containing approximately 9 million gross square feet of floor space. In addition to the main campus, the Campus Plan is studying Princeton’s land holdings in West Windsor south of Lake Carnegie, the northern portion of the Sarnoff property, and the Forrestal Campus. The University also leases administrative office space at 701 Carnegie Center. These peripheral properties account for 1,640 acres of University-owned or occupied land. Combined, Princeton’s main campus and peripheral lands provide opportunities for campus evolution over the coming decades, and are addressed in greater detail later in this section.

(left) Central Campus, (right) Lakeside Graduate housing (Credit: Princeton University)

(left) Central Campus, (right) Lakeside graduate housing (Credit: Princeton University)

(left) Forrestal Campus (Credit: Hatzel and Buehler), (right) 701 Carnegie Center (Credit: Princeton University)

(left) Forrestal Campus (Credit: Hatzel and Buehler), (right) 701 Carnegie Center (Credit: Princeton University)

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Evolution of campus

Princeton’s campus has been continuously evolving since the construction of Nassau Hall was completed in 1756.  Over time the campus has grown significantly, with each stage of growth adding new buildings and landscapes that reflected the changing needs of the institution and contemporary approaches to architecture and campus design.

Princeton’s early campus growth was gradual, with buildings arranged symmetrically around greens. By the late-nineteenth century, the second wave of campus growth established a Victorian style and landscaped park setting. By the turn of the century, the development of campus continued in a compact manner, but Collegiate Gothic was established as the new architectural style, which persists to this day as a defining element of Princeton’s campus. These early periods of campus building largely shaped the beloved setting of Princeton’s historic campus core, characterized by a series of enclosed open spaces knit together by a network of intertwining walkways.

In the period following the Second World War, the campus expanded significantly, as a result of increased student enrollment and growth in research, the sciences and engineering. Campus building continued the character of earlier periods until the introduction of the modern architectural style at the end of the Second World War. The modern buildings contrasted with the historic buildings and often placed less emphasis on their campus context. During this period, the Forrestal Research Center, a satellite campus in nearby Plainsboro, was established to accommodate the expansion of research. The role of Forrestal has changed since this time as the University gradually decommissioned a number of laboratories.

Following Princeton’s modern architecture era, campus growth continued at the edges of campus and reflected a variety of styles. The resulting buildings and landscape south of the historic campus core and east of Washington Road are more dispersed and characterized by larger buildings and open spaces, athletics facilities and parking lots. Taken individually, many of these components display the character and high quality typical of the Princeton campus, but the overall experience is more fragmented and less pedestrian in scale.

The campus contains a variety of architectural styles and landscape settings, spanning centuries of campus development reflecting multiple visions

The campus contains a variety of architectural styles and landscape settings, spanning centuries of campus development reflecting multiple visions

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Surrounding campus context

Princeton is located at the southern edge of Princeton, New Jersey. The small town of 30,000 residents surrounds the main campus to the north, east and west. The campus’s physical relationship to the surrounding town varies along each of these edges.

To the north, Nassau Street is the University’s most prominent edge and demonstrates a front-to-front relationship. Nassau Street provides a well-defined boundary and complementary transition between the campus and the downtown area. Nassau Street also connects the campus to the retailers and services of the business district and historic downtown.

The Lake Carnegie landscape defines the south edge of the central campus. It provides a natural boundary as well as a significant environmental and recreational amenity. Beyond Lake Carnegie, Princeton University owns a large area of land within the Township of West Windsor. The West Windsor lands and Lake Carnegie landscape both contribute to the iconic experience of arrival to Princeton. Traveling north from Route 1 on Washington Road, attendees and visitors to Princeton first drive through the famous allée of elm trees in the West Windsor lands, cross the bridge over Lake Carnegie,  view the boat house and finally travel up the wooded hill into the heart of campus.

Lake Carnegie defines the southern edge of the main campus

Lake Carnegie defines the southern edge of the main campus

More information about Princeton’s campus, people, programs, and residences can be found in the Princeton Profile at: http://www.princeton.edu/pub/profile/

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