It is time to take a bow, as the Breen Performing Arts Center and DAYLO STEM Center have officially debuted at The Hun School of Princeton. The $9 million project transformed the western wing of the Chesebro Academic Center with eye-catching aesthetics and state-of-the-art technology. A grand opening celebration for project donors was held on September 30th.
The 13,500-square-foot STEM Center and Theatre underwent a complete reconstruction beginning in winter 2019 with the intention of modernizing the facilities and outfitting them with the tools and technologies of contemporary working labs and performance venues. Both spaces facilitate flexible, collaborative, and hands-on learning, all integral to the School’s mission of preparing students to thrive in an ever-changing world.
“These new campus landmarks are not only beautiful, but they will also become lively centers of campus life and provide our students and teachers important new vehicles for the dynamic, experiential development that are so essential in the Performing Arts and STEM fields," says Head of School Jonathan G. Brougham.
Architect Diego Samuel was inspired to design the spaces to transform learning. “I find it powerful that architecture can influence pedagogy,” explains Diego Samuel, design principal at HDR, a world-renowned campus architecture firm. “I believe it can, if you do it the right way.”
In the theatre, reconfigured seating, changing rooms, a scene shop, a new sound and lighting booth, and improvements to the rigging and acoustics are among the highlights, while state-of-the-art technology, a living laboratory, collaboration spaces, and flexible design stand out in the STEM Center. Outside, the project boasts a two-story courtyard, electric car-charging stations, and an improved driving and parking configuration.
Mr. Samuel’s team, along with Hun’s Director of Operations J. Michael Chaykowsky ’80, Chief Financial and Operations Officer Stefanie Connell, and the Board of Trustees, conducted extensive research to design and reconfigure the spaces for the dynamic needs of faculty and students. In addition to on-campus research, the team visited professional labs and performance venues, and consulted experts in a variety of fields, including alumna Laura Carlson ’84, who designs laboratories at Princeton University in their Office of Capital Projects.
BREEN PERFORMING ARTS CENTER FEATURES:
A stunning new entrance and lobby provide an elevated identity for the theatre and rear audience entry.
Stippled glass, automatic blinds, and a sculpted walnut wood wall create drama and UV protection.
Set designers have new rigging and a dedicated scene shop to bring their visions to life.
Two new dressing rooms have been added with costume storage and lighted dressing mirrors.
Reconfigured seats create a new center aisle and more performance options.
SOUND & LIGHTING
A technical booth, rigging, lighting, and special finishes improve the audio/ visual experience.
Longtime Hun School supporters Ed and Lynn Breen generously donated $5 million, the single largest gift in the School’s history, in support of the project. “Although our children graduated years ago, we will always be grateful for their Hun School education and experience, and its continuing influence in their lives," said Mr. and Mrs. Breen. "Hun is an outstanding school, and we are both deeply committed to supporting its vital mission and bright future.”
The DAYLO STEM Center, which stands for “Dreaming Alongside Your Loved Ones,” was made possible through a $1 million leadership gift from Danna and Ben Weiss. “We believe in the power of collaboration and hands-on learning to help students broaden their knowledge. The new DAYLO STEM Center will be a wonderful resource to put these principles into practice. We're honored to be part of the future of The Hun School and can’t wait to see students using the Center to take important steps in their educational journeys," said Mr. and Mrs. Weiss.
Performing Arts Department Chair Deborah Watts also echoes that sentiment. “The newly renovated Breen Performing Arts Center enriches the artistic lives of our students, and offers them the opportunity to learn, collaborate, and create music, dance, and theatre in a modern performance venue. Working with the tools of today's arts professionals, students will have authentic performance experiences and use modern tools to create and perform.”
Consulting with Starlite Audio and Visual, The Hun School installed all new rigging and soft-goods in the the theatre. In addition, an enclosed control room was added at the rear of the theatre, from which performance-grade lighting and sound are controlled.
DAYLO STEM CENTER FEATURES:
Across two stories, the four new STEM labs and three Co-Lab spaces (two indoor and one outdoor courtyard) were designed specifically for interdisciplinary collaboration.
From high-tech hoods and lab quest interfaces to DTEN Conferencing Systems and a hydroponic garden, the labs feature premium equipment.
Moveable tables, retractable ceiling-mounted services, and wide doorways make the classrooms nimble workspaces for faculty and students.
The labs have a shared prep room outfitted with state-of-the-art technology.