Paul Robeson Center for the Arts

Princeton, New Jersey

Building community through the arts

Princeton, New Jersey

Arts Council of Princeton

Completion Date

8,700 SF renovation, 8,040 SF Expansion

Project Type
Renovation, Addition, Arts Center, Galleries, Art Studios, Theater

Arts for all

When the Arts Council of Princeton outgrew its 1939 WPA-era facility, we crafted a renovation and expansion strategy that resolved accessibility and climate control, improved connections with the community, and provided art and dance studios, a multi-use loft theater, public gallery, visiting artist’s suite, and offices. Named for Paul Robeson, the renowned singer and actor who grew up in the adjoining neighborhood, the project signifies the importance of the arts in uniting a community of people of all ages and walks of life.

Anchoring an important downtown site

While the site is an important intersection on axis with Princeton University’s main gates, the corner was a parking lot and the original building was elevated above the street, giving the impression of aloofness. By occupying the corner at grade, we resolved both physical and perceptual accessibility. The distinctive two-story entrance rotunda contains the Communiversity Room on the second floor, donated by the University and named for an annual spring arts festival co-sponsored by the Arts Council and University students.

Partnership in fundraising

Non-profits— especially arts organizations — have always occupied a prominent place among our clientele. While we are naturally sympathetic to the arts because they are so core to our discipline, we also recognize how important they are in building community. In designing the Paul Robeson Center, we researched what facilities would best serve the community and what messages would resonate with potential donors. We became the Arts Council’s partner in actively raising funds for the building and programs.

Tom Rowe, AIA

Principal, Design Practice Leader
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Karen Nichols, FAIA

Principal, Design Practice Leader
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