Design Awards Highlights – Part 4

September 10, 2012

The 2012 Design Awards will be announced later this week at the Design Conference in Asbury Park.  Continuing our series highlighting last years winners is the Frick Chemistry Laboratory in Princeton New Jersey –

Payette Architects, in Collaboration with Hopkins Architects, Receives AIA-NJ Design Award For Princeton University’s New Frick Chemistry Laboratory

Boston-based Payette Architects, in collaboration with London-based Hopkins Architects, has been awarded a non-residential Merit Award by the AIA-NJ for Princeton University’s new Frick Chemistry Laboratory, a 265,000-square-foot building equipped with cutting-edge and sustainable amenities that will fully integrate Princeton’s teaching and research programs.


“We are honored to recognize Payette Architects and Hopkins Architectsfor this building, which moves the entire Department of Chemistry at Princeton from the nation’s oldest chemistry laboratory to a new state-of-the-science facility,” said Laurence E. Parisi, AIA, president of AIA-NJ. “This extraordinary building will set a new standard for chemistry research and education in the United States.”


The building is organized around the Taylor Commons, a central, light-filled atrium, with research labs on the east side connected by pedestrian bridges to office, conference and break-out spaces on the west. The atrium functions as the social hub joining teaching, research and administration and functioning as gathering space, café, reading room and study hall. Up to 30 faculty members, 30 staff, 250 to 300 graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and research staff, and several hundred undergraduates will regularly use the building.


Gazing skyward from the first floor of the four-story atrium, visitors observe reflections of light playing with shadow. Filtering the light are 216 photovoltaic panels that shield the glass roof. Casting the shadows are pedestrian bridges that span the 27-foot-wide space between two wings at three locations and at three levels. Glass covers much of the inside façade of the building. Two open curved stairwells with glass railings bow into the linear wall scheme on the west wing.

Suspended from the ceiling is a sculpture consisting of multiple ovoid forms covered red in semitransparent white cloth. The artwork, called “Resonance,” is by Richmond, Va., artist Kendall Buster, who studied microbiology before pursuing an education in art. It was commissioned specifically for the new building and was inspired by models employed to represent molecular structures.


In the west wing, will be faculty and administrative offices in three interconnecting “pods” arranged by research area. Social spaces between the pods on upper levels are intended as interaction zones for faculty and students. Each floor also will have two conference rooms that will seat 20 to 25 people. The senior faculty offices look out over the woodlands and include a private space and an adjacent “group room” for researchers connected by an interior door.
The concept was to create a stimulating environment for teaching and research by putting chemistry on display. “We reinterpreted the typical lab layout to achieve transparency right across the building so that the write-up areas, laboratories, group rooms and offices are all visibly linked across the width of the building,” said Michael Hopkins, founding partner of Hopkins Architects. “We hope this focus will bring everyone together, help integrate general teaching and high-level research and enhance collaboration and creativity.”

“The scientists are now going to be working in this remarkable glass loft, and they’re going to have views through the building, creating a sense of openness,” said Princeton University Architect Ron McCoy. “The way that the sense of openness captures the spirit of collaboration is hugely important.”


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