Gordon Wu Hall
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Architect Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, VSBA
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Location Princeton, New Jersey   map
Date 1983   timeline
Building Type academic
 Construction System brick masonry
Climate temperate
Context campus
Style Post-Modern
Notes Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, VSBA. Bleechers staircase. Princeton University campus.




Elevation Drawing

Plan Drawing

Plan Drawing

Discussion Gordon Wu Hall Commentary

"The interior of the building was planned not only to create a series of spaces to accommodate the social and dining activities of 500 students, but also to provide opportunities for informal, intimate and spontaneous social interaction. The long dining room with a tall bay window at its end provides a sense of grandeur and recalls Princeton's Neo-Gothic dining halls; but low ceilings, large windows and natural wood furnishings create another scale of intimacy and comfort that allows the large room to become a pleasing cross between a cafe and a grand dining commons. At the entry lobby a stairway leads past another large bay window to a lounge, administrative offices and library on the upper floor. The first flight of stairs unexpectedly extends to one side to form bleacher-like risers suitable for sitting. The extended stairwell suggests a grand stair sweeping upward, but serves informally as a spontaneous waiting and gathering place. On special occasions it becomes an indoor amphitheater."

— from Stephen Prokopoff. Venturi, Rauch and Scott Brown: A Generation of Architecture. p36.

"In Guild House, as even more in Venturi's later buildings such as Wu Hall at Princeton, we are presented with an architecture that perhaps more than any other of our time attempts to accommodate itself to preexisting conditions. For that reason, it seems, it has come to rely more and more on explicit historical details and references. And so Venturi's architecture ultimately raises a fundamental question of our times: Is it not inevitable that modern architecture must return to the use of historical form in order to relate to what is around it? In Wu Hall, the keystones, the heraldic pattern over the entrance, the gentle Tudor-Gothic bay windows, as well as the stone balls at the base of the steps all seem naturally to define a set of paths through the Princeton campus that no previous modern building was able to do...."

— Christopher Mead, ed. and introduction. The Architecture of Robert Venturi. excerpt from Neil Levine 'The Return of Historicism.' p65.

The Creator's Words

"...Venturi profoundly rationalized and civilized the profession. Rational discourse, though rare, now became possible as it replaced the crude, shouted slogans of the recent past. Even disagreement could be imagined. When asked about some students at Princeton University who had criticized his work, Venturi said in effect,'Sure, why not. It's only architecture, not religion.' "

— Robert Venturi. from Vincent Scully 'Venturi's Gentle Architecture.' from Christopher Mead, ed. and introduction.The Architecture of Robert Venturi. p15.

"The problem lay in creating a new center for Butler College. The architects write: 'The building's design takes important cues from what is around it, but it promotes also an identity of its own. Its long shape and central position make it a visual hyphen that connects the dormitoreis and unites them. The brick, limestone trim, and strip windows adhere to the entrance, set off-center and broadside in the building, is marked by a bold marble and gray granite panel recalling early Renaissance ornament and symbolizing the entrance to the College as a whole as well as to the building itself.' "

— Robert Venturi. from Neil Levine 'The Return of Historicism.' from Christopher Mead, ed. and introduction. The Architecture of Robert Venturi. p65.

Sources on Gordon Wu Hall

"VSBA Exhibition", by Diane M. Fiske , ArchitectureWeek No. 56, 2001.0627, pN1-1.

Christopher Mead, ed. The Architecture of Robert Venturi: excerpt from Vincent Scully, 'Robert Venturi's Gentle Architecture.' Albuquerque, New Mexico: University of New Mexico Press, 1989. ISBN 0-8263-1120-2. LC 88-33889. NA737.V45A84 1989. discussion, p15.

Stanislaus von Moos. Venturi, Rauch & Scott Brown: Buildings and Projects. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1987. ISBN 0-8478-0743-6. LC 86-42713. NA737.V45M6 1987. discussion, p202-204. color photo of entrance, p203. color photo of second floor sitting room, p206. color photo of view from the west, p207.

Stephen Prokopoff. Venturi, Rauch and Scott Brown: A Generation of Architecture. Urbana-Champaign: Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, 1984. NA737.V46K724 1984. discussion, p36. Color photo of exterior, p37.

A. Sanmart’n, ed. Venturi, Rauch & Scott Brown. London: Academy Editions, 1986. color photo of interior of dining room, p122. Bottom half of page.

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at Amazon.com

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