Princeton University Stadium

Replacing the University’s beloved but crumbling Palmer Stadium with a new multi-sport and education facility was further justified by creating a new kind of covered public space under the bleachers, which can be enjoyed independently of sporting events.

Princeton University’s aspiration was to create the most distinguished, collegiate stadium in the United States and to replace the existing Palmer Memorial Stadium, which had deteriorated beyond repair. Princeton required that the stadium be flexible enough to accommodate the broadest range of sports events–football, soccer, lacrosse, and track and field–and to serve as a year-round facility.

The original stadium, surrounded by a chain-link fence, sat empty most of the year because Princeton typically previously scheduled only six football games a year. In addition, the underside of stadium seating is often a dark and unattractive area, cluttered with stadium service elements. In the new stadium, the space between the perimeter “wall building” and the gates for spectator seating area was designed so that it could become an attractive place for the university community throughout the year. By moving service functions into the “wall building,” introducing natural light into the circulation, and bringing extensive planting into the space, a new kind of covered public space was created, one that can be enjoyed independently from the sports events. It is also a multi-sport facility, used for the football, soccer, and lacrosse, with spectator seating for the adjacent track and field facility.

During the planning process, the physical, academic, and cultural contexts of the campus were analyzed in light of current and projected requirements. From this, 27 stadium designs in three site configurations were developed, analyzed, and discussed in detail with faculty, students and administrators. Based on these discussions, the 81 design alternatives were narrowed to 11 and then down to two designs. Construction was completed in August 1998 in time for the start of the football season.