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SPRAB reviews plans for a new Princeton University Health Services building

Princeton University undergraduate classes to be entirely remote for fall semester of 2020.

Princeton University has proposed a project that would construct a more than 76,000-square-foot University Health Services building on campus.

The university presented plans for the proposed project to Princeton’s Site Plan Review Advisory Board (SPRAB) on July 14.

SPRAB Chair Louisa Clayton, Vice Chair Lisa Levine, Councilman David Cohen, Ingela Kostenbader, and Anne Soos voted “yes” to move the proposed plan forward in the municipal process.

Barbara Vadnais was the sole dissenting vote.

A new Health Services building would replace McCosh Health Center, which is currently more than 35,000 square feet in size.

According to Princeton University’s presentation, the existing McCosh infirmary will be repopulated or renovated in anticipation of having the facility continue to serve campus life at Princeton.

A need for a new Heath Services building comes as the university seeks to grow the undergraduate student body population over the coming years. The proposed project for Health Services would keep pace with the growth of the university’s undergraduate population.

“You will remember that the very first project in this generation of projects we brought to SPRAB and to Planning Board is for two new residential colleges. Those colleges will allow the expansion of 500 students,” Princeton University architect Ron McCoy said. “One of those two colleges is for the expansion and as we have explained the other college helps us manage shifting some of the student body population around, so we can do renovations and other things.”

The new residential college will grow the undergraduate student body population to 5,700 students, he added.

“That growth will begin when we open the building in Fall of 2022 and in that year we will increase the size of the incoming graduate class by 120 students and will continue with 120 students per year for the next four years,” McCoy said.

As part of the university’s 2026 Campus Master Plan, the proposed three-story Health Services building is part of the university’s Central Campus projects and initiatives.

The project would be constructed on the current site of Eno Hall after the relocation of environmental studies to its new building that is set to be part of the university’s East Campus, according to the university’s 2026 Campus Plan.

The three-story building with a basement level will be located southwest of the existing McCosh Health Center to the north of Goheen Walk. The site is also adjacent to Guyot Hall and is to the west of Washington Road.

The university will demolish 1938 Hall, a dormitory part of First College, and Rock Magnetism Lab, a small underground structure used to store rocks for the Earth Sciences Department, according to application documents.

The project retains Eno Hall and incorporate Eno Hall into the new facility. Eno Hall would be renovated as part of the new facility. Eno Hall itself is a two-story building that is 13,454 square feet and also has a basement. The addition on the south side of Eno Hall is 63,004 square feet for the new UHS building.

Emergency vehicles would enter off of Washington Road to reach the new Health Services building.

There are currently 96 full-time equivalent individuals working for health services at the university. McCoy said they are not all in the building at the same time.

With the university expansion of the student body population, Princeton University expects seven full-time equivalent employees to be added to health services.

The basement level of Eno Hall will be used for services. The new addition’s lower level (Level A) will consist of diagnostic services, occupational health services, and space for outpatient medical clinics.

“When you get to level one, this has an entrance from the north to Eno Hall and we have some of health promotion and TigerWell programs that service students. The atrium connects the existing Eno Hall to different wings of the addition and the wings,” McCoy said.

Entering the building, the rest of level one contains wings for counseling and psychological services, space for a main reception area, and outpatient medical urgent care.

The second level of Eno Hall will be an administrative wing, and the second level of the addition is set to have a wing for an administrative suite, staff lounge area, and another level for counseling and psychological services.

The third level contains an infirmary.

“The facility has an infirmary which is an important part of the programming and health services provided to the students,” McCoy said. “I think we have 12 beds, and have some other suites that are flexible for gurneys or beds, and we have two parent apartments at the southwest of the facility, so parents can visit and stay here if their children happen to be in the infirmary.”

A longer discussion took place between members of SPRAB, staff professionals and university representatives when the presentation reached the stormwater design and runoff from the site.

Runoff from the project site itself is going through a water quality unit and then through a drain pipe to Poe Field, where there is a large infiltration and detention system that will be provided and will store water.

The proposed design is going to capture the flow from the UHS project and some future projects and bring that down a storm drain pipe (38-inch pipe) and capture that stormwater and treat it and promote the infiltration and open bottom system. Then, it will release water, slowing back into a 48-inch drain line and sending it back into the Washington Road stream.

Cohen said, “When the water is getting discharged from this detention system what I understand from what you are saying is that it is going to be retained for some period of time and will be discharged after the peak of the storm event and should not be contributing to flooding.”

Marc Gabriel from Nitsch Engineering for the the university responded, “Correct, it is not contributing to the flooding, because we are taking flow that goes there today, we are cleaning and retaining it onsite, promoting infiltration and slowing it down and sending it to the Washington Road stream when it is done.”

One concern raised by Clayton was centered on the water discharge entering Lake Carnegie.

“What is it going to do when all of this water then gets shot into the lake? What is it going to do to the lake and the properties along the lake?” she asked.

Gabriel said, “This system is designed to mitigate that flow so we don’t have it shot back down to the lake and create an erosive condition. We, of course, do not want to do that and that is why this system is as large as it is in this type of soil condition.”

Township Engineer Jim Purcell voiced frustration with the university about not knowing what is going into Lake Carnegie at the discharge point.

“This is the first I’m hearing this system in Poe Field is actually going to be managing other stormwater,” he said. “We have dealt with the art museum, now this project, and we will have two more projects in this area and we cannot get a good handle on the stormwater management of the entire system.”

Purcell requested that university officials look at stormwater management holistically and not project by project.

“We need to sit down and talk with university’s engineers about this. I am at a lost at understanding how much runoff and how much water quality is being done for this entire system,” he said.

Representative for the university agreed to meet with Purcell and other township professionals to look at stormwater management on campus holistically and the projects the university has underway.

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