Recent letters critical of the art museum expansion did me good but can’t undo Princeton’s blunder. On a recent visit to campus, I stood between Dod and Brown, struck dumb by the monolith glowering over what had been open space. It’s profoundly disappointing that the University allowed this graceless intrusion. Reminding me of a monster truck, the new construction is “in your face”: aggressive, boastful, and consumptive.
Princeton’s old campus is sacred not only to alumni but also to countless others who have felt their spirits rise as they move through its generous spaces framed by handsome, well-made buildings and beautiful trees and plants. Protecting the integrity of the old campus should always be a priority. There are plenty of modern looks in never-ending, new campus construction.
As a senior living in Brown, I loved looking down on the lawn, where there was almost always something going on–touch football, romancing, homework, sunbathing, snow angels, the hoagie man’s call. This space under the sky brimmed with joy.
Princeton’s old campus is steeped in beauty because visionary architects, landscape architects, and gardeners recognized that an inspiring place to learn needs open spaces with grass and trees as well as good buildings. The rhythmic relationship between them creates an experience much like a wonderful piece of music. The art museum expansion is utterly tone-deaf, and it breaks my heart.