Opening its doors last fall, Princeton University's Lewis Arts Complex by Steven Holl Architects and BNIM created a new campus gateway and state-of-the-art facilities for the arts. Expanding performance, rehearsal and teaching spaces, the complex has now been featured in a video directed by Spirit of Space. The footage shows how the building was designed to shape campus space while maximizing porosity and movement. Welcoming its second year of students, the complex is made to take the arts at Princeton to even greater heights.
The Lewis Center brings together programs in Dance, Theater, Music Theater, and the Princeton Atelier. The project also expands the Department of Music’s instructional and research facilities. Sited on the south edge of campus, adjacent to McCarter Theatre Center, the complex comprises the Wallace Dance Building and Theater; the Arts Tower, which includes the Hurley Gallery, administrative offices and additional studios; and the New Music Building.
The three buildings are integrated below ground in the Forum, an 8,000 square-foot open indoor gathering space that serves the various arts venues in the complex. Above the Forum is an outdoor plaza with a reflecting pool. Skylights in the pool filter natural light into the Forum below. Encouraging curiosity and interaction, the new arts plaza overlooks views into the dance and theater practice spaces and the orchestral rehearsal space.
As an open public invitation, this gateway space aims to connect the local community to the University. The Wallace Dance Building and Theater is developed according to the idea of a “thing within a thing.” The black-box theatre is composed of steel, while the dance theaters are foamed aluminum, white washed wood and board formed concrete. A “dancing stair” connects all levels. Likewise, the Arts Tower is developed with an “embedded” concept, its stone tower connecting to the proportions of Princeton’s historic Blair Arch.
The New Music Building is developed according to an idea of “suspension.”Above the large orchestral rehearsal room individual practice rooms are suspended on steel rods. Acoustically separate, these individual wooden chambers have a resonant quality. The concrete structure of all three buildings is faced in thick 21-million-year-old Lecce Stone quarried in Lecce, Italy.