Renovation of Center Minimizes Energy Use and Reduces Maintenance Needs

The architecture and design firm JZA+D has completed a renovation and refurbishment of Princeton University’s Center for Jewish Life, a multipurpose facility originally designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects in 1993.

The Center for Jewish Life is a home-away-from-home for students.
The Center for Jewish Life is a home-away-from-home for students.

This building, which houses assembly, education, and office functions has been popular with students ever since opening, resulting in understandable wear-and-tear on surfaces and furnishings. According to Joshua Zinder, AIA, founding principal of JZA+D, the facility has now been refreshed with new finishes, furnishing and fixtures, while its mechanical systems and exterior building envelope including windows and front doors have been upgraded to minimize energy use and reduce future maintenance. About 17,800 square feet of building area has been improved in the process, based on the architect’s recommendations. The scope of work included removing some walls to open up spaces, and updating the security process at the entrance to the building.

“Today, students and other users of the Center for Jewish Life experience better organized interiors, new signage and wayfinding. Also, improved lighting and artwork help bring the Center for Jewish Life up to the high standards that Princeton University consistently offers in all its campus facilities,” says Zinder, vice president-elect of AIA New Jersey. JZA+D also recently completed a welcome center for Rutgers-Camden.   

Improvements to the center include new finishes, furnishing, fixtures, windows and doors.
Improvements to the center include new finishes, furnishing, fixtures, windows and doors.

To organize the project, the JZA+D team including Zinder, senior designer Ashley Servis, and architect Benjamin Grace analyzed the facility challenges and produced tiered recommendations along with associated budget impacts. Firm partner Mark A. Sullivan developed phased scheduling, so that the renovations could be carried out without impeding continuous occupancy of the building. Says Servis, “This center is a home-away-from-home for students, so we have tried to make it lighter, brighter and more welcoming for them.”

To celebrate the completed work, the Center for Jewish Life has rededicated the newly named Mandelbaum Family Lounge and thanked the donors who helped support these renovations. Future improvements of the kitchen, servery and dining areas at the center are also anticipated.

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