Award Winner - May 2012
Find a printable version here

Cordish Family Pavilion, Lenz Tennis Center,
Princeton University

Princeton, New Jersey

S U B M I T T E D    B Y

Dattner Architects in New York

Size: 7,500 square feet

Quick Tour:

  • Covered viewing platform
  • Meeting room
  • Coach offices
  • Kitchenette
  • Locker rooms
  • Storage room

Small, but striking is how the new Princeton University Tennis Pavilion in New Jersey is described. The 7,500-square-foot, two-level facility transforms the eight varsity competition courts into a space with its own identity, replacing a much smaller, 1,500-square-foot facility. Together with the adjacent bleachers, the pavilion creates a unified public space.

This pivotal new centerpiece of the Lenz Tennis Center boasts as its central feature a 3,700-square-foot covered observation deck that hovers over the ground and provides a space to watch matches. This deck is an extension of the main meeting room for the tennis players and coaches, as well as an extension of the public bleachers for students and fans during events. The deck provides protection from the sun for spectators, as well as a vantage point from which to view the surrounding campus.

To illustrate more of the intricate details of the pavilion, its overhanging zinc roof slopes back and folds down to become the rear wall, wrapping the wood interior. Moreover, the structure is held up by slender steel columns, and the volume of the facility seems to hover over the tennis courts. Other fine points of the new pavilion include the fact that finely detailed and exposed gusset plates complement the warm tone of the wood, along with a cool industrial accent. Meanwhile, the tennis pavilion, as well as its ramps and stairs, are lined with steel cable railings. This helps to maintain open views and a sense of lightness.

The pavilion's upper level houses the varsity coaches' offices, as well as a glass-enclosed team meeting room, both of which provide views of the tennis courts below. Meanwhile, a masonry enclosure on the lower level burrows into a small hill and accommodates men's and women's locker rooms, mechanical systems and storage space. Also, an external stair and ramp, in company with handicapped accessible paths, are integrated into the landscape and connect the upper and lower levels of the pavilion.

Besides the simple, precise lines of the pavilion, the main amenities of the facility comprise a covered viewing platform, a meeting room, coach offices, kitchenette, locker rooms and a storage room. The project, which was funded through alumni donations, opened in September 2011.

As much an indoor space as an outdoor space, the new pavilion was designed in the spirit of tennis. Its simple, precise lines reflect the geometries of the courts, and the elegance of the game.


W H A T   T H E   J U D G E S   S A I D

"It's refreshing to see a simple program like that of the tennis pavilion, transformed into a jewel of a building. Building organization, choice of materials and elegant detailing combine to turn a simple program into a center court centerpiece."

Reed Voorhees

"A simple and elegant use of line, material and form in a small assignment turned big. A testament to the notion that clean need not be mundane or sterile."

David Sprague

"Simple, clean and functional. An ace!"

Scott Ferrell

"Simple and straightforward, this structure uses the warm wood structure and materials well, which balances nicely with the zinc roof and back wall."

Howard Blaisdell

A S S O C I A T E D    F I R M S

Civil Engineer: Van Note Harvey

General Contractor: Michael Riesz and Co.

Lighting Design: Domingo Gonzalez Associates

MEP Engineer: Dagher Engineering

Structural Engineer: Severud Associates

More award winners…