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Princeton University

Parking structure. Princeton, New Jersey 1989-1991

This 410-car parking structure is part of a comprehensive master plan that strategically integrates new parking structures at key points throughout the campus. As the first of many parking structures to occupy the campus, the University posed particular demands on a building type that is not commonly associated with high design standards, but one that is becoming more prevalent. Consequently, the parking structure addresses the precise architectural character of the Princeton campus. It is located within the School of Engineering Quadrangle on Prospect Avenue between Olden Street and Murray Place. The garage stands behind an existing garden wall, designed by McKim, Mead, and White in 1911. Twenty feet high and constructed of brick/masonry with limestone coping and statuary, the wall flanks either side of the ornate wrought iron gate.

The new parking structure wall extends the existing wall to the north and delineates the perimeter of the parking structure. Large openings within this new wall allow natural ventilation and light to enter the first two parking floors. Inside, parking is organized on five horizontal floor plates, connected by a centralized ramp. The garage is constructed of a galvanized steel frame with poured-in-place concrete slabs. The elevator core and the stairs are positioned with respect to the east-west pedestrian paths leading to the main campus.

In accordance with the garden-like character of the surroundings, the three floors of the structure above the brick wall are wrapped by a double lattice screen made of bronze. Its cornice, supports, and arcaded condition along the north wall reinforce the intention of the project to produce an architecturalized infrastructure. Between the existing wall and the parking structure, a new garden is created, making the south side of the building a veritable garden front. Cladding this side of the parking structure is a color-galvanized steel screen on which ivy will climb, turning, in due time, into a truly topiary structure. Along the north side of the garage, the screen pulls free from the brick wall, creating an arcade that accommodates one of the east-west campus paths and directing pedestrians to the main entrance.

The Princeton parking garage won a 1993 National Honor Award from the National Association of the American Institute of Architects.

Noted Quotes

[Machado and Silvetti] has built a few exquisitely crafted works, most memorably a jewel-like Princeton University parking garage wrapped in bronze netting that lets in fresh air and flares outward at the roof line to form a wisp of a cornice.

Eve M. Kahn
Architecture Critic
The Wall Street Journal