Simons Center for Systems Biology / Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects

© Brian Rose © Brian Rose
  • Architects: Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects
  • Location: Princeton, NJ, United States
  • Lead Architects: Rafael Pelli, David Hess, Magdalena Kowalska
  • Design Team Leader: David Hess, AIA, LEED AP BD+C
  • Senior Design Principal: Rafael Pelli, FAIA, LEED AP
  • Project Architect: Magdalena Kowalska, LEED AP BD+C
  • Area: 13740.0 ft2
  • Project Year: 2007
  • Photographs: Brian Rose
  • General Contractor: Barr & Barr Inc.
  • Civil Engineering: Van Note-Harvey Associates, P.C.
  • Cost Consulting: Vermeulens
  • Geotechnical Engineering: Melick-Tully and Associates
  • Graphics/Signage Design: Architectural Sign Associates
  • Landscape Architecture: Coen + Partners
  • Lighting Design: Filament 33
  • Mep Engineering: Princeton Engineering Group LLC
  • Structural Engineering: Robert Silman Associates
  • Traffic, Transportation, And Parking Planning: BFJ Planning
  • Client: Institute for Advanced Study
© Brian Rose © Brian Rose

Text description provided by the architects. The new home for the Simons Center for Systems Biology at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), designed as an addition, seamlessly integrates with the existing three-storey Bloomberg Hall. Configured to eliminate corridors, the building has offices for faculty members, visiting scholars, and administrative staff as well as formal and informal meetings spaces.  The programmatically distinct lower floor contains the campus wide IAS computer center.

Context Plan Context Plan
Ground floor plan Ground floor plan

The majority of rooms in the Simons Center surround a double height space. The combined lobby, library and stair hall encourages the kind of interactions crucial to the interdisciplinary mission of the Center. Meeting spaces strategically located around this core draw occupants towards daylight and landscape views. A large terrace overlooks a new courtyard featuring a sculpture by artist Richard Long, and creates a protected, intimate and sunlit outdoor meeting area.

© Brian Rose © Brian Rose

The Simons Center incorporates many sustainable design features and strategies to reduce the overall environmental impact. These include: the first green roof in Princeton Township providing storm water management without adding new storm water structures or retention ponds; all interior building materials selected for low or no volatile organic compounds; an innovative mechanical system developed to optimize energy use by re-using waste heat from the computing center; occupancy sensors for lighting, temperature, and fresh air levels.

Diagram Ventilation Diagram Ventilation

The Simons Center reinterprets the proportions and details of the original IAS pavilions, and takes advantage of its sloped site to create a courtyard connection to the existing Bloomberg Hall.

© Brian Rose © Brian Rose

At the heart of the complex is the large proscenium theater residing off the main street lobby, which allows for accommodation of the backstage and other support spaces off Regent Street. This makes the tall lobby space highly visible to the street, creating an active urban presence. Site specific public artwork helps to energize the space. The theater itself recalls the terraced Utah landscape, a composition of warm colored panels, gold-toned perforated metal, and points of light that make the space sparkle. The ceiling looks like the night sky with tiny, star-like lights seemingly suspended in dark, acoustic material that conceals the banks of stage lighting and mechanical equipment above.