Studio Hillier is honored to receive the NJ Business & Industry Association Award for Excellence in Community Service for companies committed to leadership in finding solutions to social or economic challenges. The award recognizes Studio Hillier’s community service in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Outstanding community service is rooted in the ethos of Studio Hillier and is a regular practice for the firm, yet Studio Hillier’s dedication to the public during the global pandemic extended far beyond our usual scope. With the Covid-19 pandemic, Studio Hillier used our resources and expertise to find solutions to address the struggles of food insecure residents in the local Princeton community and the shortage of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for healthcare workers in New Jersey and neighboring states.
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Studio Hillier opened our doors for Mr. Rogers’ Neighbors Kindness Project to run a free food store out of our office space for food insecure Princeton residents. This also helped struggling local businesses since patrons of local restaurants and retail shops could add an extra meal to their phone or online order. These meals were then distributed out of Studio Hillier’s office on Witherspoon St. every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Tens of thousands of goods were donated, and, on average, almost 100 people lined up around the block each day to benefit from the Free Store in Studio Hillier’s office.
Upon reading an article on the shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline Covid-19 healthcare workers, Studio Hillier controller, Jerilyn Angotti, recognized the potential of the firm’s 3D printer. Within one day of reading the article, the Studio Hillier team, led by architects Dustin Bailey, Tsvetelina Churalska, and Felix Heidgen began 3D printing Verkstan face shield masks around the clock. Studio Hillier donated 2,800 face shields which were delivered to 21 healthcare facilities and nonprofit organizations.
Most notable was the community response. Dr. Joseph Hancock, Medical Director at Princeton Anesthesiology Services & Princeton Medical Center, said “I literally teared up after I opened the box and saw all you accomplished for us. Thank you so much for doing this. It fulfilled 2 needs for my colleagues: PPE; And demonstrating that our community cares, they are thinking about us, and they want to help. The latter is so important right now.”
To maximize the production of face shield masks, Studio Hillier, with Princeton University School of Architecture and STEAM Works Studio, established the Princeton PPE Collective which worked collaboratively to 3D print and donate PPE to hospitals and organizations in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.
Studio Hillier’s commitment to giving back to the local community is exemplified by our contribution and support for the Witherspoon-Jackson Historical and Cultural Society. The entire Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood, originally a segregated self-sufficient African American community, has been designated Princeton’s 20th historic district to honor the African American contribution to Princeton. As part of our commitment to this unique neighborhood, Studio Hillier has designed a self-directed “Heritage Tour” marked by plaques at 29 historic sites within the neighborhood. In addition, Studio Hillier has designed the Witherspoon-Jackson Historical and Cultural Society’s Newsletter and Website.
Studio Hillier’s commitment to the Joint Effort Safe Streets Program highlights our focus on addressing contemporary social challenges in our community. The Joint Effort Safe Streets Program, an annual program that celebrates the black history and community of Witherspoon-Jackson, celebrates past and present residents while also providing educational lectures and conversations on critical issues surrounding race, housing, and the future of Princeton. For years, Studio Hillier has opened our doors to host the kickoff celebration events and has been a proud sponsor of the program. Last summer, Studio Hillier once again hosted the Joint Effort Safe Streets kickoff reception with discussions on new visions for Witherspoon St, the main avenue of the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood.
Studio Hillier’s work with NAMI Mercer Walks, an annual event that aims to raise mental health awareness in Mercer County, underlines our commitment to mental health advocacy.
In celebration of Hillier’s 55th Anniversary on April 1, Studio Hillier hosted a virtual Anniversary Trivia Night Fundraiser benefiting NAMI Walks. This year Studio Hillier graciously hosted NAMI Mercer’s beach-themed kickoff event for Walk Team Captains. After Team Captains came to pick up their program folders, there was a 30-minute presentation via Zoom.
As part of NAMI Walks, the Studio Hillier team walked around the Princeton University campus and explored some of its most significant buildings. The team walked to not only develop awareness of mental health but also to celebrate the architectural importance of the buildings. The tour included seeing over 40 buildings starting with Nassau Hall, to Prospect House, to Frank Gehry’s Lewis Library, Minoru Yamasaki’s Robertson Hall, the Hillier Group’s Bowen Hall. The Studio Hillier Team has raised $5,270 for NAMI Walks and was voted Top Creative Team in 2020 for producing a video to promote the walk.
Studio Hillier also has a keen interest in making architectural education available to talented students in need. In addition to supporting the Robert and Barbara Hillier College of Architecture and Design at NJIT, Studio Hillier contributes in excess of $50,000 per year in student scholarships. Studio Hillier has always striven to use our resources as architects to address pressing local issues in Princeton, NJ. As a firm, Studio Hillier is in the business of architecture not only to design buildings but to serve the community in any way possible. That dedication continues year after year!