Page B1.1 . 05 December 2001                     
ArchitectureWeek - Building Department
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    Renewing American Gothic

    by Mark Thaler, AIA and Jonathan Hastings

    First occupied in 1897, Blair & Buyers Hall was the first residence hall of the collegiate Gothic style at Princeton University. Designed by the firm of Cope and Stewardson Architects, it is considered to be one of Princeton's most architecturally significant buildings. Now, a major renovation has brought it up to 21st-century standards without harming its historic charm.

    The campus community has always loved the residence hall, but after more than a century of undergraduate living, the building was desperately in need of restoration. On the exterior, stonework needed repointing, chimneys were crumbling, windows were in poor condition, and the 100-year-old slate roof finally needed replacement.

    The interior was in even worse shape. The mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems had long outlived their expected life. Piping and conduit were exposed throughout the building, creating a haphazard atmosphere. The fire alarm system was antiquated, and the building was not sprinklered, posing a potential risk to the safety of students. The building also lacked the wiring required for today's technological campus.

    Not only did the building systems require replacement, but this four-story building was inaccessible to the handicapped, the lighting was poor, and most bathrooms were located in the basement. Cosmetically, the trim, plaster, and floors needed extensive repair or replacement.

    Modernity Confronts History

    Princeton chose our firm, Einhorn Yaffee Prescott, Architecture & Engineering, P.C., to lead the restoration and renovation process. Early on, the owners and designers needed to decide how much history could be saved. Without question, the exterior would be authentically restored to its original 1890s character.   >>>



    ArchWeek Image

    Designed as a major campus entryway, the Gothic Blair & Buyers Hall at Princeton University was recently renovated to 21st-century standards.
    Photo: Chun Y. Lai Photography

    ArchWeek Image

    The renovation project respected the historic integrity of the original building while improving amenities for resident students.
    Photo: Chun Y. Lai Photography


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