Princeton planners begin review of Butler dorm plan

Targeted for destruction, 1960s-era modernist buildings said to be despised by students

By: David Campbell
   The Regional Planning Board of Princeton reviewed a concept plan by Princeton University on Thursday night that calls for five dormitories of Butler College to be demolished and replaced with a slightly larger two-building dormitory as part of a major reorganization of Princeton’s residential college system.
   University Architect Jon Hlafter said the 1960s-era modernist buildings to be demolished are looked upon as undesirable by students and parents, and are "not respected" on campus. He said the planned new residences, which will house undergraduates from all four classes, will be a "very desirable place to live" when they come online in fall 2009.
   The university’s application is classified as a minor site plan and will next go before the Site Plan Review Advisory Board for review.
   At the Planning Board meeting Thursday, advisory board Chairman William Wolfe asked how the university planned to handle the issue of tearing down buildings that have been named by donors.
   Mr. Hlafter said the university is reaching out to donors and that their gifts will be commemorated at the new buildings. He suggested that some class donors were pleased to learn that the buildings would be replaced with ones that are gentler on the eyes.
   Expressing a similar sentiment, Board member Yina Moore said she resided in Lourie-Love Hall when she was a student at Princeton and said she will be glad to see the building demolished.
   The university plans to replace five of the seven buildings that comprise Butler College, which is one of the five existing two-year residential colleges at Princeton, located on campus across Elm Drive from the lower end of the new Whitman College now under construction between Baker Rink and Dillon Gymnasium.
   In addition to Lourie-Love, the existing Butler dorms to be torn down are 1922 Hall, 1940 Hall, 1941 Hall and 1942 Hall. The five dorms were built in 1964.
   The other two Butler College buildings — 1915 Hall and Wu Hall, which were built in 1949 and 1983 respectively — will remain. The buildings slated for demolition currently house about 375 freshman and sophomore students.
   The five buildings comprise about 100,125 square feet. Princeton is proposing to replace the buildings with a 112,000-square-foot dormitory that would house about 289 undergraduate students.
   The Butler College revamp and the new Whitman complex, to be Princeton’s sixth residential college and scheduled to be completed for the opening of the 2007 academic year, are part of a major reorganization of Princeton’s residential college system.
   The reorganization, meant to enhance undergraduate life, also will help make possible an increase of Princeton’s undergraduate population from about 4,700 to 5,200 students by fall 2012.
   Princeton currently has a system of five two-year residential colleges. Under the new system, three of the six colleges — Whitman, Mathey and Butler — will house undergraduates from all four classes. Each of the other three two-year colleges — Forbes, Rockefeller and Wilson — will be paired with a four-year college. All the colleges will include graduate students in residence.
   The five Butler College buildings are scheduled to be razed starting in the summer of 2007. Bloomberg Hall, currently an upperclass dormitory, will become part of Butler College in 2009, the university said.