Hoyt Laboratory

Architect: Davis Brody & Associates, New York

Date of Construction: 1977-1979

Materials: reinforced concrete

Floors: 3

Uses: Science Building, biochemistry laboratory

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hoyt Laboratory was commissioned in 1977 to Davis Brody & Associates and completed in 1979. The building is very simple in form and materials: there is a complete lack of external ornamentation and is built of machine-made concrete and glass. The building is a modified square with some rounded corners and some architectural elements that jut out from the facade plane. Although the building is reduced to its necessary elements, it is not simple by any means and no side of the building is identical. The three floors of the building are made distinct by three sets of ribbon windows that wrap around the corners allowing for a fluid transition between sides and access to more natural light.

The Williams Street side of the building is composed of one three-story bay that projects outward toward the street. The bay’s rounded corners have huge bow-shaped windows that are connected by a small ribbon window that the ceiling level of each story. The ground floor vestibule has its corners cut out and is almost floor to ceiling glass.  The bay is flanked by walls of solid concrete. Only at the corners of this side are the beginnings of the ribbon windows that wrap the rest of the building.

To the right side of the Williams Street facade is a sky bridge that connects Hoyt Laboratory to Frick Laboratory.(1) The reduced gothic-modern sky bridge not only allows for a physical pathway between both buildings but also an architectural connection. The ground floor offers a modified gothic archway that gives access to the back courtyard. The upper two floors each consist of two large square windows that are underscored by a smaller window.

The most interesting architectural element is on the courtyard side of the building. A curved service portion of the building is slightly separated and a couple of feet taller than the laboratory and only has one clerestory ribbon window. The tower serves as a “pie-shaped” fire escape stairwell. The interior of the tower shows concentric patterns of the wedge-shaped stairs. Dale Cotton, author of Princeton Modern, comments that Brody took advantage of “more stringent fire code regulations have inspired contemporary architecture to use [the codes as an] advantage, creating fire escapes that are prominently featured in their designs”(2).  The slight separation of the tower and its unique shape alleviates the overwhelming square-shape of the building and creates an interesting ornamental note to an otherwise pared-down design.


(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, 40-41.

(2) Cotton, Dale.

*Image of the “pie-shaped” stairwell found on the Princeton University Website advertising for Dale Cotton’s Princeton Modern Book Release, 2010.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: