Rubenstein Commons – Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ, USA

Rubenstein Commons – Institute for Advanced Study

The new Rubenstein Commons Building is to support community and academic life on the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) Campus close to Princeton University. The IAS was established in 1930 and was Albert Einstein’s academic home where he spent the latter part of his career.

Transsolar developed the overall energy and comfort concept, which provides a communal and flexible gathering place for the Institute’s research community.

Its remarkable prismatic glass façade intertwines science, physics, humanities, and art – corresponding with the Institute’s mission. Its horizontal orientation, which is based on Transsolar’s guidance, not only breaks direct light into the color spectrum energizing the interior, it also maximizes daylight harvesting with seasonal control of solar heat gains.

One key strategy during the design was to separate ventilation for air quality and dehumidification from space heating and cooling. A dedicated outside air system provides fresh air based on CO2-level monitoring to all spaces, supplied as low-velocity displacement ventilation. This strategy offers better air quality by reducing duct sizes and first costs.Windows in all spaces make use of natural ventilation throughout the year.

Space heating and cooling to ensure maximum thermal comfort is provided by a radiant floor to heat/cool the structure of the building as well as in-floor fan coil units that perform as a fast reacting system for any sudden loads, without disrupting the interior design of the spaces.

A ground source heat pump connected with a vertical closed loop geothermal field offsets the entire heating and cooling load of the building. The heating system is designed for low temperature heating (max. 104 °F / 40°C), which allows high efficiency heat pump performance. Photovoltaics was part of the concept but unfortunately not implemented.