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 paw.princeton.edu, or write to us at 194 Nassau St., Suite 38, Princeton, N.J., 08542.Marilyn H. Marks *86