Renovation and Expansion Dillon Gym, Princeton, NJ, USA

Renovation and Expansion Dillon Gym

The renovation and expansion of the current Dillon gymnasium envisions a centralized recreational facility for Princeton University’s campus, responding to Princeton’s growing population. One of the goals for the project is to deliver a future-minded, sustainable, and resilient facility, tackling topics such as carbon emissions reduction (for construction and operation), water and waste management, user-centric design, biophilic design, and social and economic sustainability. Only a holistic design process can lead to a sustainable building.

For this reason, Princeton’s Facilities Organization committed to a true integrated design process, which requires all stakeholders to be involved in design decisions from the onset of the project. The most important outcome of early design workshops with stakeholders was a Project Charter, which envisioned the new Dillon REC center as inclusive, accessible, flexible, intuitive, visible, a demonstration of Princeton’s ethos of sustainability, and LEED Gold certified.

In parallel and equally important, it was determined that sustainability solutions must be cost effective and their impact evaluated on a campus scale. Additionally, one essential outcome from conceptual design was to renovate the existing building rather than build a larger addition, to reduce the building’s overall embodied carbon.

Dillon Gym includes two main design features that demonstrate Princeton’s ethos of sustainability: the green roof on the new addition and its timber construction. The roof supports the overall water management strategy of the campus, while reducing its embodied carbon for the building. Together with its timber exposed structure and visibility from inside and outside of the building, the green roof serves as a tangible and visible manifesto of Princeton’s commitment to sustainability and biophilic design.

The new façade of the addition incorporates into the exterior design and aesthetics significant shading elements like the south overhang and east/west vertical fins. In addition, air movement by ceiling fans will be provided to decrease the perceived temperatures and allow for a relaxation of the maximum interior relative humidity. This will lead to a drastic reduction of the carbon emissions for the operation of the building. The façade has been designed to maximize visual connection between inside and outside, as well as to maximize glare-free natural daylight penetration. Parallel windows can be opened to allow for periods of fan-assisted natural ventilation.