Princeton University: materials and surface treatment

At the Princeton University Campus (New Jersey, USA), the Lewis Center for the Arts stands out. It is a modern building completely covered in Pietra di Lecce, which has been designed by the studio Steven Holl Architects based in New York.

The project

The Italian influence in this project (and many others ones) comes from the passion for made in Italy of the Architect since the beginning of his career in the 70s, after attending a post-graduate specialization school in Rome. In that period, he had the opportunity to deepen the knowledge of Italian natural stones and their beauty.

Winner of several gold medals, Steve Holl always stood out for his disruptive and outside the box projects such as the HORIZONTAL SKYSCRAPER in Shenzen and the Finnish museum of modern art KIASMA in Helsinki. Even in the Princeton University project, Steve Holl stood out for its originality.

The complex includes three separate buildings that are connected below ground with a collection space of 8,000 square feet above which there is an outdoor square with a reflecting pool that presents skylights that filter natural light in the forum below. Designed as an “open call to the public”, this gateway space aims to connect the local community with the University.

The largest of the three buildings of the area is dedicated to dance. It contains a steel theater and smaller dance halls lined with foamed aluminum, whitened oak and concrete panels.

The building dedicated to music is based on the idea of “suspension”: above the large hall for the orchestral rehearsals, the classrooms for the exercises are covered with wood, being a natural acoustic insulator; they are suspended on steel supports. Finally, the “tower of the arts” in Lecce stone follows the proportions of the historical Princeton arch. The external structure has a harmonious and modern look in which the Lecce stone blends with glass.

Materials and surface treatment

PI.MAR, manufacturing company of Lecce stone, chose FILA as technical partner in order to preserve over time the majestic beauty of the building. After a research on the material, HYDROREP ECO was chosen as an innovative and ecological product to be applied vertically on the covering of the Lewis Center for the Arts. Specialized personnel has applied the treatment with an airless pump at a height.

The external stone has been entirely treated with HYDROREP ECO (a water-based water-repellent), which is the most suitable product for this type of stone; it ensures the maximum protection besides respecting the environment as set by the project.

HYDROREP ECO avoids the absorption of water, humidity, thus slowing down the formation of blackening, moss and lichens (an anti-vegetative barrier certified by tests carried out according to the method UNI EN ISO 846: 1999), and defending the Lecce stone from weathering.

HYDROREP ECO is perfect for the protection of external walls, it is efflorescence preventing, resistant to UV rays; moreover, it can be applied on surfaces with residual moisture, drastically reducing working time.