215 Park Avenue South, 1901
New York, NY 10003
212 962 6307

Hobson College

Princeton, NJ


Residential College


Princeton University


Programming/AOR: Hanbury

Interiors: JSA/Mix Design

Structure: Thornton Tomasetti

MEP/FP/IT: Buro Happold

Civil: Langan

Landscape: James Corner Field Operations

Sustainability: Atelier Ten

Lighting: Fisher Marantz Stone

Graphics and Wayfinding: Pentagram

Acoustics: Cerami & Associates

Food Service: Ricca Design Studios

Code: Jensen Hughes

Cost Estimation: Dharam Consulting


Site: Approximately 5 acres
Building: 273,000 GSF
Number of Student Rooms: 510



Residential colleges form the core of the undergraduate experience at Princeton University. They are home and community for their residents, where students gather to collaborate, learn, socialize, and dine, forming supportive networks that extend well past graduation. After vetting a number of leading global architecture firms, PAU was selected to design the latest college in this system in the heart of Princeton’s historic campus. Hobson College—named by a generous gift from Mellody Hobson, making it the first college at Princeton named for a person of color—will replace the 1960’s era First College (formerly Wilson College). Hobson College has a mandate to both reflect and welcome the university’s increasingly diverse student body as it strives to build a more inclusive future.

Princeton is famed for a network of gothic revival courtyards that form the heart of the campus grounds. PAU approached the enhancement of this network as an urban challenge by embracing the University’s campus plan vision to create a new east-west campus connection through the Hobson site as well as a series of distinct new courtyards, all of which could be activated by locating college program on the ground floor of the new structure. Noting the well-used pedestrian circulation through the site, and its position proximate to the heart of campus—PAU envisioned the new college as a village center: both as a thoroughfare and a destination. To accomplish this while meeting program requirements, PAU wove over 270,000 square feet of new student living and learning spaces in arms that embrace Hobson College’s collegiate gothic neighbors. By weaving the new program betwixt and between the existing buildings, the new college is able to remain scale-appropriate and efficient while navigating a steep grade change. The site plan extends and engages the adjacent buildings to define a number of outdoor rooms, programmed for both active and passive uses. This strategy builds on the Princetonian tradition of episodic courtyards, while the linkages between these spaces maintain student desire lines across the site, reinforcing Hobson College’s site “at the crossroads” of the campus.

PAU’s design process for Hobson College embraced the historic palimpsest of Princeton’s campus, celebrating the lyricism of the existing. Looking to the texture and temperament of the neighboring buildings, PAU mined the campus context to recast meaning, massing, and masonry; putting time-honored techniques in service of a design that is unquestionably of our time. PAU’s design for Hobson College employs contemporary interpretations of Princeton’s canonical gabled roofs, the rhythm of the dormers, the gracious breezeways that frame destinations across campus, and the ever-present, steely Lockatong argillite—a façade material so ubiquitous on campus that it is colloquially known as “Princeton stone.” These nodding references position Hobson College as a respectful yet refreshing neighbor, evoking a comfortable familiarity without succumbing to deference or pastiche.

Read More