Fellows’ Housing for the Institute for Advanced Study

Architect: Marcel Breuer

Date of Construction: 1958

Materials: brick, wood, glass

Floors: 2

Use: residence

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The Fellows’ Housing project was one of the first large-scale Modern projects undertaken in Princeton beginning in 1958.  The commission was given to Marcel Breuer, a European architect who studied at the Bauhaus and later moved to the United States in the 1930’s. Breuer brought a plethora of modern idioms to the United States and to Princeton.(1) The housing complex is made up of eighteen rectangular garden apartments with its facade reduced to its architectural necessities, forming a pattern. Each unit is made up of repeating modules, allowing for different quantities of apartments and varying sizes of each unit. This permits each unit to be flexible in its size but still be cohesive in design with the rest of the complex.(2)

The entry to each unit is made of a red brick base with white wood trim and the second floor is made of the white washed wood. Two apartments are stacked upon each other and then connected to its neighbor with an elevated catwalk.  Angular outdoor stairs allow access to the top floor and create an unusual shape when juxtaposed to the rectangular units. The entrance sides of the units act as the service portion of the unit: the windows are small, the facade is straight and undecorated with over hanging eve dotted with skylights. The architecture comes alive, however, once the garden side of the units becomes visible. Huge windows take advantage of park-like setting while small patios on the ground level allow for the visiting fellows to enjoy the landscape. The rectangular shape breaks with alternations of projecting and recessing bays creating a fluid Modern facade.

The housing complex was expanded in 1966-69 by Thaddeus Longstreth and in 1973 and minor changes were made in response to criticisms.(3)

(1) Greiff, Constance M., Mary W. Gibbons, Elizabeth G. G. Menzies. Princeton Architecture. “A Pictorial History of the Town and Campus”. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1967. Print.  183.

(2) Greiff, Constance M.. 179.

(3) Kaysen, Carl.  ”Report of the Director, 1966-1976″. The Institute for Advanced Study. 1976. Print and Web. 30 March, 2011.

Please visit HMR-architects to see modern renderings of the Fellows’ Housing.

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