Princeton University Campus

Princeton University Campus has had a long-standing tradition in Neo-Gothic architecture. Many of the older buildings are constructed of cut stone with high-pointed archways. In the late nineteenth century, Princeton’s Board of Trustees ordained that only Collegiate Gothic buildings should be constructed.(1) After World War II, the Neo-Gothic vernacular was continued with the construction of Firestone Library that also contained some hints of a new Modern language. The library served as the last breath for of the Neo-Gothic style on the campus for after its completion the University deemed that Gothic construction was no longer economically feasible.(1)

The campus is now dotted with a mixture of Gothic, collegiate Federalist-style, Modern, and contemporary architecture making an interesting and diverse campus. Looking to update the campus, major architects like Minoru Yamasaki and I.M. Pei were invited to design modern buildings. The stark white structures that the two architects designed are now integrated into the campus but at first would have seemed incredibly out-of-place. The development of a Modern dialogue put Princeton on the map for progressive architecture and has spurred the invitation of many other architects such as Frank Gehry, Cesar Pelli, Michael Graves and Robert Venturi.

(1) Cotton, Dale. Princeton Modern, Highlights of Campus Architecture from the 1960s to the Present. Princeton, NJ: Office of Communications, The Trustees of Princeton University, 2010. Print, 36-37.

(2) Greiff, Constance M., Mary W. Gibbons, Elizabeth G. G. Menzies. Princeton Architecture, A Pictoral History of the Town and Campus. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1967. 178.


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