Studio Hillier

Studio Hillier

Princeton, NJ


Peddie School Athletic Center

Constructed in 1975, the concrete block field house at the far end of the football field was designed for basketball, indoor track, wrestling and volleyball.  Over the next three decades, the school added a swimming pool, ice hockey rink, weight training and fitness center. By far, the most significant impact to the building was the addition of girls to the enrollment.

The Head of School, AD and Board of Trustees determined that a new natatorium was the first priority, to be followed by the complete renovation of the existing athletic center, design of two new turf fields, a new campus entrance and parking area. The programming and planning for this project included field research of other similarly sized athletic centers, consultation with team coaches, interviews with student athletes, and community members.

Initial concepts tackled the logistics of circulation: pedestrian safety, parking, loading/unloading and access to and from the buildings. The new turf fields, in a triangulated relationship with parking and the existing locker rooms, opened the possibility of creating a linear concourse that could negotiate between sport venues as well as floor levels.  We pursued the concourse as a bridge between the new natatorium and the existing athletic center and as a ramp to create a safe and efficient way for athletes to reach the lockers and equipment cage located one floor below.  To complete the programmatic and functional diagram, we proposed a dramatic redefinition of the basement by removing the retaining wall and reshaping the sloping earth away from the building.  The effect is a two-story glass enclosed space with the main entrance on axis with football field.

The natatorium design was conceived as a heat sink, a light filled box that could store and recycle radiant energy for use in heating the pool water to 84 degrees. The, eight lane 35 meter competition pool uses Ultra Violet systems instead of chlorination for maintaining the hygiene of the water. Specially designed Light Pipe systems are used to illuminate the natatorium.

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Status: Built
Location: Hightstown, NJ, US
Firm Role: Architect