Hillier Architecture has worked closely with the Lawrenceville School for over ten years. During these years, Hillier has completed a series of plans for many buildings located around the 33-acre campus in New Jersey.
One of the projects Hillier designed is Memorial Hall. This was the School’s original classroom space and has undergone several modifications which now houses the English Department. It is also the location for the weekly all-school faculty meetings in the Heely Room.
The Mackenzie Building, designed by the New York firm of Delano and Aldrich in 1937, serves as the main administrative hub on the Lawrenceville campus. Housing the Headmaster’s offices, Dean of Students, Dean of Faculty, College Guidance Office and the Office of Admission, the building has the atmosphere of a small transportation terminal. Although the building tolerated a mixture of students, faculty and prospective candidates in the main rotunda of the building for years, the increase in admission activities began to hamper the function of the space; with so much cross-traffic, students, families and administrators frequently congested the two-story waiting area.
The Lawrenceville School commissioned Hillier for a feasibility study to assess the viability of updating and renovating its Noyes Building into a state-of-the-art science facility. The study determined that in order for Lawrenceville to remain competitive with other schools and offer an improved science curriculum, a new facility would be better suited for the science program.
Lawrenceville School Masterplan
Lawrenceville, NJ 2000
Lawrenceville School Masterplan
Master Plan/ Education
The Campus Center houses the cafeteria and ties the knot between the two discreet buildings that once framed the “great lawn”; the vestigial gesture of the corporate campus. To counterpose the original idea of separation between working classes, the lawn and the eventual campus center became the symbol of a new, unified collaborative workforce.
The location is a corporate campus and the site is a prominent ceremonial lawn framed by the two massive masonry office buildings. The CEO imagined a new campus center as the virtual knot that would join the two stand-alone office buildings and unify the campus of executive management and technical staff. A cafeteria serves as social glue in realizing the objectives for loosening the aseptic culture, the sum of which translated into a re-contextualized built form.
The notion of occupying open space without compromising its openness was a compelling dialectic that bled into other dichotomous ideas of organic/synthetic, object/void, earth/roof. A process of understanding these currents took shape through models and sketches that in some cases were literally translated into the reality we see. The result is an asymmetrical composition of polygons shaped by the program and by the site contours; a complicated set of coordinates that allow the x, y and z dimensions to occur in a seeming random fashion.
Absent a front door, access into the campus center is through the grass-roofed connectors. The building as seen from the entry road is a variant of the great lawn, retained by a discontinuous folded plane that reveals a glassy slot: a point of access on a need-to-know basis. The concrete retaining walls and sod-covered roof bend and break to define the interior spatial hierarchy that is more about catering to attitudes that to function. A new typology emerges more fitting to the contemporary work culture.
A south-facing dining terrace is a metaphor for entry yet access is exclusively through the connecting concourses. Two central site walls shape and bifurcate the spaces and like the existing buildings they attempt to unite, never complete into a single closed object. Instead, they construct a light-filled figural void that indexes the contours of the circulation below and the sloping /folding of the roof plane above. What begins as a narrow slot of daylight morphs into a continuous surface of glass with a seventy-foot span.