The campus master plan currently being developed with Sasaki, an internationally recognized planning and design firm, addresses a number of practical and philosophical issues of significance to the Lawrenceville campus and community, but perhaps the most essential among these is the consideration of a carless campus core.
A carless core is not a new concept for Lawrenceville, but the planned construction of a combined athletic and dining complex opens the door to a timely reconsideration of campus roadways. Last year’s conversion of the Crescent Road to Corrente Walk was a baby step in the process, with an immediate positive impact on student life. Crescent housemasters praise the transformation, citing a new aesthetic on the Crescent and a deeper connection to the campus as a whole.
Calling Corrente Walk “phase one A,” Head Master Steve Murray H’55 ’65 ’16 P’16 ’21 says a “ring road” would be the logical next step, aligned with the siting and orientation of the athletic and dining complex. “Certainly, as we create a construction entrance for the new facility, this will likely trace the path of a new entrance to Lawrenceville,” he predicts.
The ring road from a new entrance would follow the outer circumference of the built campus, keeping much of the daily traffic away from student houses and academic buildings. The next likely step, according to Murray, would be to take the Bowl carless (see image), a move he says would create a very different feel for the campus. “We hope this will inspire further funding to extend the concept,” he says.
“At the heart of this concept is a return to what might be called the original vision for the School,” he adds. “Certainly Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed the Circle as a pastoral break from the demands of School life, never imagined cars parked on every surface. We’re fairly clogged with traffic, and it changes the character of the campus.
“Our lives are so jammed with information that slowing down the campus and returning it to a pedestrian space is a way to allow students’ minds to rest as they move between classes and activities,” Murray says. “We’re trying to make traversing the campus a contemplative experience rather than an additional challenge.”