Studio Hillier

Studio Hillier

Princeton, NJ



Copperwood is a 153 unit rental apartment complex to be developed on a beautifully wooded site in the Princeton Township, surrounded by the 200-acre Princeton Ridge Preserve. The targeted market for this residential community is 55 and over age group, who plan to “downsize” into more manageable housing in close proximity to the amenities of downtown Princeton. Princeton has never had such housing.  Historically, couples who were life-long members of and contributors to the community would have to move away from town in order to downsize. The best illustration of the pent-up demand for this type of housing is the fact that the news stories from the Planning Board approval process alone have resulted in a waiting list of 115 people for the 153 units.  

Copperwood is sited on a 21 acre site on  Bunn Drive, on a gently sloping ground, adjacent to the public Hilltop Park. In order to preserve the site with its pristine  Beech tree landscape, the project footprint has been minimized with five apartment buildings tightly organized around piazzas, courtyards, and gardens and sitting atop a below grade garage. The carefully studied placement of the complex into the existing woods has minimized the site disturbance and tree removal and protected the existing specimen trees.

More than 17 acres of the 21 acre site is being  preserved as dedicated public open space giving the residents unobstructed views of the natural setting in all directions.  (This site design actually saved 487 trees more than a previously approved design by a national homebuilder and disturbs only 17% of the site versus the original 77%.)

A naturally ventilated garage, partially underground, sits beneath the entire complex, greatly reducing impervious coverage for the project, and eliminating the unsightly asphalt one usually finds surrounding such  housing projects.  Five lobbies within the garage provide elevator service up to the building for the residents. There is a public lobby to greet visitors that accesses the public entrances to each of the buildings at the plaza level.

 Natural, muted colors and materials conceal the exterior of the complex in the woods and the sunlit  internal courtyards are enlivened with a hint of light yellow. This coloration has been implemented  to respect the character of Princeton Ridge Preserve.  We believe that the context of the site is as important as the building being proposed.

With numerous energy efficient features using sustainable construction systems, the project is designed to a LEED silver standard.

Each of the buildings will have a green roof which reduces  storm water runoff and also protects and preserves the roof membrane, thus reducing the life cycle cost of the building.  Rainwater will be harvested, stored in underground cisterns, and then recycled as "grey water" within the building and as irrigation for the the landscaping on the plaza level. The reduced impervious coverage,  the harvesting of rainwater, and the use of bio-swales eliminated the need for a detention basin on site.  The grey water strategy plus the installation of water efficient fixtures will reduce water usage by  40%. 

In terms of  public transportation, the project will be served by three bus lines; New Jersey Transit, the Princeton "Freebie,", and the also free Princeton University "Tiger Transit" system.  Also, new bicycle and pedestrian paths accessing the project will connect the residents, without the need for a car, to the numerous amenities in Princeton. The Princeton Shopping Center is about half a mile away, accessible by an existing sidewalk.

The surrounding pathways from the woods are connected to the landscaped plaza which accesses the community amenities of the complex including the café/lounge, meeting room, and health club. The urban park character of the plaza is intended to encourage interaction among the residents and create a strong sense of community.

The variety of unit types ranging from 1,300 square foot, two bedroom luxurious units to 800 square foot one bedroom units. The project will provide 12 affordable units and 24 units designed to be affordable to the middle income wage earners such as teachers, librarians and policemen. 

We hope that the project will be exemplary for the future growth of New Jersey, where sustainable design enriches the living standard, and becomes a new identity of the community and the city at large. 

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Status: Built
Location: Princeton, NJ