Whitman Master’s House

Princeton University has a tradition of housing students in small residential colleges to give students’ a sense of community while away from home.  At the heart of the residential college system is a faculty master who lives on campus with the students.  When the University built a new residential college several years ago, they needed to build a new master’s house for the college. 

The master’s house needs to be able to function both as a home for the faculty master’s family and as a social center for the residential college.  This particular challenge inspired the proposed solution of a three story structure with the entire ground floor dedicated to the social calendar with a large kitchen, dining room and gracious living room.  The second floor becomes a transition space between the college and the family with an office for the faculty master and a large living space solely for the family.  Finally, the third floor is the private part of the house with bedrooms and bathrooms for the family.

While the new residential college dormitory was to be built in the Collegiate Gothic style, the University was determined that the accompanying house should reflect a more Modernist disposition.  In order to maintain a connection to the new college without repeating its pitched roofs, turrets and archways, we borrowed from the building’s material palette.  The slate roof of the dormitory became the siding of the house while the stone base was used to articulate retaining walls and the mass of the kitchen.  The resulting home both reflects the strength and enduring nature of the college while embracing change and progress.

Undertaken with Architecture Research Office