Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Institute’s agreement with the Civil War Trust, announced in 2016?
As part of a compromise agreement that will enable IAS to build housing for its Faculty adjacent to its existing campus, the Institute has agreed to sell to the Civil War Trust 14.85 acres of land associated with the 1777 battle of Princeton. This includes approximately 66 percent (13.73 acres) of the 21-acre Maxwell’s Field property, and an additional 1.12 acre tract adjacent to Maxwell’s Field. In addition, the Institute has agreed to a new plan that calls for eight additional townhouses, instead of seven single-family homes, which in turn preserves more land without compromising housing options.
A scenic buffer will be installed between the IAS townhouse development and the preserved lands; the .6-acre buffer will be protected with a conservation easement.
In exchange, the Trust will support the new plan and pay $4 million (including $2.6 million for the land, and $1.4 million for restoration of the property and some reconstruction of the existing development plan). The land aquired by the trust will eventually be transferred to the State of New Jersey for eventual incorporation into the existing Princeton Battlefield State Park.
The agreement between IAS and the Trust is contingent on review and approval by the Princeton Planning Commission and the Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission. As part of the compromise agreement, the Princeton Battlefield Society and other plaintiffs in existing legal challenges have agreed to suspend litigation until the Civil War Trust formally takes ownership of the properties. Upon closing, the Society and plaintiffs will abandon all legal challenges associated with the IAS development. Closing is scheduled for June 30, 2017.
After closing, the Civil War Trust will work with IAS, Princeton Battlefield State Park and the Princeton Battlefield Society to interpret the property and restore it to its wartime appearance. The Trust intends to work with the state park to open up the newly preserved lands and create a seamless experience for park visitors.
The Civil War Trust is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving America’s historic battlefields. Although primarily focused on the protection of Civil War battlefields, through its Campaign 1776 initiative, the Trust also seeks to save the battlefields connected to the Revolutionary War and War of 1812. The Trust announced Campaign 1776 during a news conference in Princeton on Veteran’s Day 2014. To date, the Trust has preserved more than 43,000 acres of battlefield land in 23 states.
The Battle of Princeton, fought January 3, 1777, was one of the most decisive battles of the American Revolution. It was the culmination of an audacious, 10-day campaign that began with George Washington’s famous crossing of the Delaware on Christmas Day 1776. In a series of daring maneuvers, Washington succeeded in attacking isolated elements of the British army. His decisive counterattack at Princeton marked his first victory over British regulars in the field, and revitalized the cause of American independence.
What has IAS done for the preservation of the Princeton Battlefield State Park?
The Institute for Advanced Study supports the preservation of the Princeton Battlefield and honors those who fought and died there. The Institute has been an engaged and committed citizen since its campus opened in Princeton Township in 1939, and cares deeply about the surrounding neighborhood and environment. 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 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.
In 2016, the Institute announced an agreement to sell 14.85 acres of land to the Civil War Trust, which will be conveyed to the State of New Jersey as an addition to the existing Princeton Battlefield State Park. Combined with the 32 acres conveyed in 1973, the Institute will have provided a total of 47 acres to the park, nearly half of its 95 total acres.
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.
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. The 16 townhouses will be located east of Gödel Lane, the entrance road located on Maxwell’s Field, providing walkable access to the campus. The townhouses are designed with a low profile and exteriors in natural materials, and will be screened from the campus, the Institute Woods, and the Princeton Battlefield National Historic Landmark with a 200-foot scenic buffer composed of trees native to the region.
Why does IAS need additional housing now? Where do current IAS Faculty live?
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.
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. Of the twenty-eight current members of the Faculty, only ten live in houses in the neighborhood. 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.
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.
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 a 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 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.