Princeton Planning Board Reviews University’s QuantScience Institute Plans

The Princeton Planning Board convened on February 15, 2024, to review a series of proposals from the Trustees of Princeton University, most notably the conceptual plans for the new QuantScience Institute intended to be located at Fitz Randolph Road and Ivy Lane. The board approved a resolution related to the Health Services Building and the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Hall project, but the meeting’s focal point was the university’s strategic initiative championing the multidisciplinary field of Quantscience.

Ron McCoy, the university architect, and attorney Christopher DeGia presented the vision for the QuantScience Institute, detailing the project’s alignment with the university’s strategic planning framework. The conceptual review encompassed the institute’s proposed square footage and the broader planning strategies for campus integration and connectivity. Board members engaged in a constructive dialogue with university representatives, discussing the scope of the concept review and its potential implications for the surrounding neighborhood.

During the meeting, McCoy described the project’s core components, which include accommodating world-leading systems for QuantScience and creating a welcoming academic environment. He also presented the site’s boundaries and zoning conditions, including setbacks and height constraints. A voluntary 60-foot setback was proposed to respect neighboring buildings’ traditions. It also detailed vehicular circulation plans, including loading dock locations and access points.

Board members raised questions about the design’s technical aspects, including the building height, massing, and scale. The landscape design aimed at preserving tree-lined streets and enhancing habitats for wildlife, with a focus on native plants and green roof strategies for stormwater management. Conceptual massing and renderings were provided, offering comprehensive views from different angles.

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David Cohen, a board member, inquired about the project’s energy intensity, particularly for computer-intensive activities, and asked about measures to balance energy usage. McCoy expounded on the goal of reusing waste heat from the building’s systems and the broader campus-wide strategy for carbon neutrality. Additionally, Cohen sought clarification on the expected number of occupants and their impact on parking and transportation. McCoy projected an initial accommodation of 760 occupants with growth to 1,180 occupants by 2042.

Julie Capozzoli explored the accessibility concerns within the central courtyard, with McCoy affirming the goal of maintaining all ramps under a 5% slope for universal access. Owen O’Donnell’s questions about stormwater management led to McCoy explaining the need for an independent stormwater system that meets regulations projected for the year 2100.

Board members also addressed the project’s emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the design process, expressing interest in the initiative’s outcomes. They discussed the attractive inclusion of natural light in the design and its potential benefits for occupants and bird safety. The site plan, building height limitations, and storm water management were further technical aspects that the board interrogated, expressing concerns about the construction process’s impact on the surrounding neighborhood.

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The discussion extended to the construction materials, specifically the use of mass timber and steel framing, and their applicability to various building parts. The board also touched upon the integration of public art, with the university representatives referencing the existing campus-wide public art program.

A public comment highlighted the importance of incorporating solar energy to balance energy consumption and production, a sentiment appreciated by the board members and indicative of an area for future consideration. The meeting ended without any formal resolutions related to the QuantScience Institute’s conceptual review, which served as a platform for initial feedback and information exchange.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Mayor:
Mark Freda
Planning Board Officials:
Louise Wilson, Owen O’Donnell, David Cohen, Julie Capozzoli, Mia Sacks, Nat Bottigheimer, Fredi Pearlmutter, Alvin McGowen, Pallavi Nuka, John Taylor, Claudia Wilson Anderson, Kerry Philip (Planning Board Coordinator)

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