The Department of Astrophysics at Princeton University had outgrown the building designed for it more than 40 years ago by World Trade Center architect, Minoru Yamasaki.
The architect was asked to explore how the department could improve and expand its facilities within the footprint of the building and develop a master plan to FEATURED IN2011 Educational InteriorsINTERIOR CATEGORYInterior RenovationSUB CATEGORYRenovation the nearly 35,000-square-foot building. In summer 2008, phase one of the project converted two underutilized spaces, a library and an unused observation dome into program space for the department.
The former library was converted to a two-story common area with 10 offices and two small meeting rooms ringing the perimeter. The open space is illuminated from a large skylight, introducing light into the surrounding spaces through etched glass in the offices and transparent walkways on the second floor.
The observation dome was adapted into a state-of-the-art meeting room with a large flat-panel monitor for presentations and videoconferencing. The space was fully conditioned and a skylight installed in the dome where it once had opened for the telescope. An antique telescope, refurbished by the department, now is suspended above the conference table.
Because of the department’s shift from laboratory-based study to theoretical study and computer-based observation, the department members often work in teams and require spaces that would enable them to gather and interact in a variety of settings. By reconfiguring the interior of the building, these light-filled meeting spaces and offices fulfill the department’s needs, create a sense of community within the building, and enliven the department’s day-to-day interactions.