Regarding the new University Art Museum, I am overcome with admiration for Sir David Adjaye and Dr. James Steward. The new museum complex will be the best addition to Princeton in a hundred years. It will become a destination for students, professors, and tourists alike. With its long, covered enfilades, sensitive appreciation of natural light, engaging horizontality, and Gothic-referential verticality, the new museum complex takes command of the campus with confidence and humility, two attributes that rarely go hand in hand in great architecture. Moreover, it provides a nucleus to a campus that despite its many physical virtues — beautiful trees and flowers, lovely climate, manageable scale, cute little town — always felt haphazard.
As an undergraduate in the early 1970s I spent lots of time walking to and fro, as one does, but I never found a spot in which I felt comfortable to stop, a place of relaxed congregation. The campus simply had no center, and that deficiency was genuinely alienating. The museum will become the heart and heartbeat of the school.
To my eye the true virtuosity in the buildings is their elegant functionality, their refusal to insist on the architect’s personal statement. The stone exteriors will become tranquil backdrops to Princeton’s thrilling trees and storybook Neo-Gothic.
I was particularly pleased to see the interior wood beams and broken-up ceilings that should provide nicely muffled acoustics. Inside and out, the museum will be a place to walk and to think. Isn’t that what a campus is for?