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Oct.8, 2008

Vol. 109, No. 2

from the editor

From the Editor

Published in the October8, 2008, issue

PAW’s Dec. 18, 2002, cover photo of a model of the Lewis Library.
Gehry Partners LLP
PAW’s Dec. 18, 2002, cover photo of a model of the Lewis Library.

The Dec. 18, 2002, cover of PAW contrasted Princeton’s two high-profile construction projects, which could not have been more different: Demetri Porphyrios *80’s collegiate gothic Whitman College, and Frank Gehry’s new science library, which then appeared, as PAW contributor Fred Bernstein ’77 wrote, as a “shimmering assemblage of glass and steel.”

Most of the readers who have written to PAW about the buildings in the years since have admired the Porphyrios design. And Gehry’s plan for the Lewis Library? Well, not so much.

“It looks like the remnant of a metal packing container from which the contents had to be forcibly extracted,” wrote Patricia R.F. Danielson *76 of the initial design. Peter Ambler ’56 wrote last December that the building, then under construction, still reminded him of “a tractor-trailer accident.”

Gehry’s design has changed since that 2002 cover appeared. Brick replaced much of the stainless steel. The building flows more easily into Fine Hall, next door. Stanley Allen *88, dean of the architecture school, calls the finished product “more disciplined.”

W. Barksdale Maynard *88 offers his take on the just-opened Lewis Library here, beginning on page 20. “A sure cure for lingering aesthetic doubt was a trip to the fourth floor,” Maynard writes, with “the soaring ceilings, the maze-like plan full of surprises, the whimsical plywood furniture, and best of all, the view through giant windows of the rest of this strange building.”

Maynard likes the building — a lot. Do you? Let us know. Post comments at PAW Online at, or write to us at 194 Nassau St., Suite 38, Princeton, N.J., 08542.

Marilyn H. Marks *86
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1 Response to From the Editor

Patricia R.F. Danielson *76 Says:

2008-12-29 11:22:49

Now that the Lewis Library is "finished," I am still as appalled as I was when I first saw the plans, and wrote, in PAW online, that "the building looks like a crushed metal container from which the contents have been forcibly extracted." That opinion still holds. The only comfort I got was when I complained to one of the workmen on site prior to the building's completion. When I told him I thought the building would be a blot on the Princeton landscape for generations, or, worse, forever. The contractor replied: "Don't worry, lady, this building ain't going to last very long; the design flaws, and quality of the materials and construction will assure that the building will not last for even one generation." Small confort. In the meanwhile, I avert my eyes when I ride up Washington Road. I hate what the Lewis Building has done to our beautiful campus. And for sure, I will NEVER buy any product from Progressive! Patricia R.F. Danielson *76 Masters in Urban Studies
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