Princeton Transit Hall and Market / Rick Joy Architects
Rick Joy Architects’ much anticipated first public project, Princeton Transit Hall and Market, at Princeton University, New Jersey, is a meditation in sensorial grandeur. Quiet architectonic moments reveal exquisitely crafted, simple details, whilst the rhythm of vertical mullions and columns celebrates the atmospheric East Coast light. The resultant architecture emerges sculpturally from the landscape, and is at once sublime and serene.
The Princeton Transit Hall and Market signals an important departure, for Tucson-based Rick Joy Architects, from the breathtaking ‘desert modernism’ that has earned them international acclaim. Yet, although the Princeton Transit Hall and Market is the studio’s first foray into public architecture, and a train-station at that, it manages to retain something of the modesty and intimacy, as well as the materiality and context-responsiveness, of the studio’s phenomenologically-lavish desert dwellings.
The program for the Princeton Transit Hall and Market includes a train station, an undercover canopy, marketplace, and bicycle storage. The outdoor plaza between the main buildings serves as a hub for circulation around and through the various programs, and is planted with trees to provide shade during warmer months. The standalone waiting room has a sculptural presence, characterized by its grand, plunging roofline and the careful calibration of large apertures connecting the interior spaces to Princeton’s luscious grounds and the newly constructed arts precinct. The waiting room offers a sense of calm and stillness, providing ample amenity whilst remaining uncluttered.
Rick Joy Architects’ Princeton Transit Hall and Market is situated immediately adjacent to Steven Holl’s recently completed ‘gateway space’, the Lewis Arts Complex. An elegant and unassuming neighbour, the Princeton Transit Hall and Market creates an interplay of interior and exterior environments through its use of concrete columns, of various heights and widths, which frame the natural sunlight and the views back across to Springdale Golf Course. The luminosity and loftiness of the interior spaces and colonnades gesture to the grandeur of the historic buildings that populate Princeton University.
Rick Joy is renowned for his use of rich, yet honest materials: black walnut benches, designed by the esteemed George Nakashima Woodworkers; white-oak framed windows; and, sandy-coloured concrete columns complete a living-picture of warmth and serenity. The acute peak of the waiting room, underscored by blackened steel, gestures upward towards the sky, whilst across the open plaza, tall triangulated columns in the same material form a colonnade, and seem to change in girth depending on the angle from which they are viewed.
The seemingly irregular pattern of ground-paving, a collaboration between Rick Joy Architects and Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates landscape designers, ties the two building volumes to the plaza. The spine of the design, a covered walkway, spans between the waiting room and the staunch, green-roofed building that houses the bathrooms and the Wawa convenience store. The walkway consists of smooth, grey concrete and blackened steel piers, whilst the low-profile of the green roof recedes against a backdrop of verdant foliage.
The completion of the Princeton Transit Hall and Market in 2018 coincided with the release of Rick Joy’s second monograph, Studio Joy Works, published to commemorate the practice’s 25th anniversary, and a much anticipated follow-up to his first monograph, Rick Joy: Desert Works from 2009. Featured in this latest publication, the Princeton Transit Hall and Market is a most-worthy addition to Rick Joy Architects’ revered oeuvre, expanding the vocabulary of public architecture with its alchemy of restrained materiality, sculptural grandeur, and quiet serenity.