Princeton University Art Center
The project includes the restoration, renovation, and adaptive reuse of Bainbridge House, one of the oldest surviving buildings in Princeton and among the area’s best preserved examples of Georgian architecture. Built in 1766 by Job Stockton, the house served generations of his family, and lodged members of the Continental Congress in 1783. The house was expanded in the 19th century, when it boarded Princeton students. In the 20th century, Bainbridge House was home to the Princeton Public Library for fifty years, and subsequently to the Historical Society of Princeton from 1967 until 2015, when MBB was commissioned to restore, renovate and repurpose the building as an Arts Center. Located at the northern edge of Princeton’s campus on Nassau Street—the veritable divide between campus and town—Bainbridge House will be used by the University for both public and institutional purposes, serving as a gateway to the arts on the adjacent campus.
MBB’s scope of work includes restoring the building’s exterior—including cleaning, repairing, and replacement in-kind of brickwork, windows, shutters, and roofing—and upgrading the thermal performance of the building envelope. A low bluestone wall wraps the front and side of the building, providing outdoor gathering spaces and seating for visitors to the art center and neighboring theater. The building’s outmoded infrastructural systems, including mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, and security, will be replaced with new sustainable state-of-the-art systems seamlessly retrofitted into its historic fabric.
The renovation and adaptive reuse of the building include making it universally accessible, and repurposing its interiors to provide public space on the first floor—with gathering space, exhibits, information, shop, ticketing, and information—and offices for Princeton University Art Museum’s Education Department on the second and third floors. Underlying MBB’s restoration work and design approach is their aim to make the house more accessible, welcoming and open, while maintaining its historic architectural integrity.