Faculty Housing Plans
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does IAS need additional housing now? Where do current IAS Faculty live?
Historically, many of the houses in the immediate neighborhood of the Institute, between Mercer Road and Springdale Avenue, have been too large to be affordable for Institute Faculty, and, as real estate prices escalated rapidly in Princeton over the past twenty-five years, many of those more appropriately scaled have become unaffordable. The absence of suitable local housing is far more acute now than it was thirty-five years ago, when 55 to 60 percent of the current Faculty lived in neighborhood houses.
Where are the new housing units going to be located on the IAS campus? Will anything be visible from the Princeton Battlefield State Park?
The Faculty housing project site lies directly between existing faculty houses and the Institute’s main campus. In 2018, the Institute for Advanced Study and the American Battlefield Trust closed on the Trust’s $4 million purchase of 14.85 acres, adjacent to the current Princeton Battlefield State Park. The land will be preserved while enabling the Institute to complete construction of new housing for its faculty on its campus. The newly acquired land, which will eventually be conveyed to New Jersey as an addition to the existing Princeton Battlefield State Park, includes approximately two-thirds of the Maxwell’s Field property, along with an additional 1.12-acre tract north of the property. To make the acquisition possible, the Institute reduced the footprint of its housing project by substituting a new plan to build 16 townhomes for its original proposal to subdivide lots for seven single-family houses and eight townhouses.
Has IAS considered off-campus housing?
The Institute for Advanced Study exists as a strongly residential community of scholars, where Faculty and the visiting scholars who visit each year live on or very close to campus. Easy walking distance to the Institute’s academic campus is essential in sustaining the Institute’s existence as a true community of scholars. North of the Stony Brook, except on its western side, the Institute’s land is surrounded by developed neighborhoods. More than 75 percent of the Institute’s own land is protected from development by the Green Acres easement, covering 589 acres. Outside these protected acres, the planned site is the only one not intruding on the central axis of the academic campus that can accommodate the number of units needed. As for existing local housing stock, house prices in the Institute’s immediate neighborhood are well above the average price of a home in Princeton, and over time the increasing prices have made them less affordable for faculty.
In the age of the internet, email, and teleconferencing, isn’t the residential community of scholars an anachronism?
Absolutely not. One of the defining characteristics of the Institute is its residential existence, where Faculty and visiting scholars live on or very close to campus, and have frequent opportunities to personally interact—either intentionally or by chance—resulting in highly productive and stimulating environment. Such interactions are the basis of the scholarly activities at IAS, and they foster a sense of community and collaboration, leading to progress in the sciences and humanities pursued at IAS. This factor is essential to the Institute’s success and to its existence as one of the world's leading centers for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry.
What has IAS done for the preservation of the Park?
The Institute for Advanced Study supports the preservation of the Princeton Battlefield and honors those who fought and died there. It is committed to the appropriate preservation of this part of Princeton, which has been home to the Institute since its campus was established in 1939, and it welcomes working in partnership with the State to enhance scholarly and public knowledge of the Battlefield.
The Battlefield Park would not exist on anything like its present scale, or within the appropriate context of the adjacent woods and farmlands, were it not for the Institute’s willingness to work to meet its needs for Faculty housing in ways that have enabled major amenities to be created for the benefit of the public.
In 1959, the Institute donated the former Mercer Manor monumental portico that now stands on the Battlefield north of Mercer Road, commemorating the common grave of unknown American and British soldiers killed in the Battle of Princeton in 1777.
In 1973, the Institute conveyed to the State of New Jersey 32 acres, increasing the size of the Battlefield Park by 60 percent. This sale was made on the basis of a specific commitment by the State in 1971 that the Institute’s field east of the new Battlefield Park boundary could be used as the site for new Faculty housing.
The Institute’s preservation via the 1997 Green Acres easement of the 589 acres of woods, farmlands, and surrounding lands unified nearby preserved lands, further protecting a fifty-six-mile-long greenway network through central New Jersey that is critical for the feeding and nesting of two hundred species of birds on the Atlantic flyway. The Institute funds the maintenance of the Institute Woods and farmlands, which are utilized year-round by bird-watchers, walkers, runners, and cross-country skiers and have provided a place for contemplation and discussion for generations of Institute scholars, from Einstein onward.
What have been the findings of the historical and archaeological consultants who reviewed the building site?
The Berger Group’s report, produced in 2007, concluded that it is very unlikely that any concentrations of additional artifacts of the Battle of Princeton may be found on the building site. The report also concluded that the level of military activity in the project area was very limited, and that the major engagements of the battle, which over the course of that day traversed much of Princeton, took place outside of the project area. At the same time, it has always been understood that it is likely that there were troop movements across the project site, as there were over other parts of the Institute’s campus and the whole area from the Institute up to and including the original University campus. For more information, click here.
Is it possible for the IAS and its Faculty to coexist with the Princeton Battlefield?
Yes. The Institute has been an engaged and committed citizen since its campus opened in Princeton Township in 1939. The Institute cares deeply about the surrounding neighborhood and environment, and its efforts to preserve lands are a significant part of its institutional history. The Institute helped to create and enlarge the Princeton Battlefield State Park, and believes in the appropriate commemoration of the Battle of Princeton. The Faculty housing project is a natural extension of the Institute’s existing campus and housing areas, and is sited on private land specifically designated for the purpose by the State of New Jersey in 1971. The Institute has acted in a sensitive and responsible manner in bringing its housing plans to fruition and is committed to continuing its role as a partner in the community.