In 2012, Princeton University got approvals to construct a new ‘Arts and Transit’ complex on Alexander St at University Place. Extremely controversial at the time, the plan called for moving Princeton rail station approximately 400-ft south, converting the existing rail station to restaurants, and building a big new Center for the Arts on the site of a bunch of old houses. The old ‘WaWa’ convenience store was also torn down, and replaced with a new one. For those of us who walk or jog around that side of town, the construction has been a big mess, but it is largely done, and although the Center isn’t open yet, the paths are in place, so we can check out what the new site looks like.
To get a sense of scale of the project, compare the photo at top to this photo, which we took at the time that the new Princeton rail station opened in September 2014:
Approached from the north (i.e. coming from downtown Princeton), the new development looks like this:
The landscaping is clearly not done yet, but it’s possible to access the interior of the complex, where there is a plaza that currently looks like this:
Viewed in ‘panorama view’, the Lewis Center looks as follows from inside the internal ‘plaza’ area:
The buildings aren’t open, but a glance in the windows reveals more contemporary stylings:
I don’t love the view from Alexander Street. Big blank walls greet anybody passing by.:
At the intersection of University Place and Alexander Street, there is a large buffer of landscaping, with some new trees and plantings:
Overall, it looks like this will be a high-quality addition to Princeton University campus. The new Arts Center could quickly become an amazing, original place where the University and local community can come together. The new paths are great, but there are quite a lot of steps that may pose an obstacle to people in wheelchairs or with strollers. The Center is scheduled to celebrate its grand opening with a ‘Festival of the Arts’ that will be open to members of the public, starting October 6. Tickets are available now through the University ticketing system.