Simons Center for Systems Biology, Institute for Advanced Study

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Princeton, New Jersey, USA
13,000 square feet / 1,000 square meters

Conceived as a laboratory for ideas, the Simons Center for Systems Biology supports scholars conducting theoretical research. As a wing of Bloomberg Hall, home to the School of Natural Sciences, the Simons Center provides faculty and staff with offices and meeting spaces. The ground floor contains the Institute’s computer center.

The Simons Center emulates the sensibility of the Institute’s oldest buildings, stately brick structures from the 1930s. A terra-cotta tile wall with high-performance aluminum windows recalls the brick walls and punched wood windows of these original structures.

Most of the Simons Center’s rooms are arranged in a ring around a double-height space that functions as lobby, library, and stair hall. The Simons Center is configured to eliminate corridors. Within the central space, a wood-clad steel staircase with painted steel metal guiderails connects the building’s two upper floors. The central space is an active hub, encouraging the interactions that are at the heart of interdisciplinary study. Meeting spaces are located strategically at the end of pathways. As people enter the building, they move toward light and views out to the landscape and a large terrace overlooking a new courtyard.

A protected and intimate outdoor space with southern exposure to sunlight, the courtyard includes a sculpture by artist Richard Long. The sculpture, Slate Oasis, is a composition of standing slates on a flat ground of gray limestone chips.

The Simons Center incorporates many sustainable design strategies. The green roof adds insulation to reduce the cooling demands and energy consumption and contributes to stormwater management. The interior systems optimize energy use by capturing and reusing waste heat. Intelligent controls adjust lighting and temperature levels based on occupancy for minimal energy waste and maximum comfort.