Skip to content

Combining dining and athletics under one roof to create a welcoming space for the entire academic community

The Lawrenceville School Tsai Commons and Field House

The Lawrenceville School
Lawrenceville, NJ
253,000 GSF | 23 acre site
Jeremy Bittermann
Additional Services
Civil Engineering
Landscape Architecture
Planning and Urban Design
Phase 2 Completed 2024
The Architect’s Newspaper, Best of Design Awards, Honorable Mention, Unbuilt – Education category

Anchoring the second phase of implementation of the Lawrenceville School master plan, the Tsai Field House repositions student life for the school by bringing together recreation, wellness, athletics, and dining into one interconnected environment.

Sasaki recently completed Phase I, which encompasses the new dining room, pool, ice rink, and fitness center, along with the back of house and locker rooms associated with these programs. Phase II includes the lobby and the basketball courts, two multipurpose rooms, and all the renovations to the existing historic Fieldhouse, completed in 2024.

Design approach to scale and roofscapes

Sports buildings are usually large volumes that if designed as a collection of venues, while encompassing the needed programs, would disrupt the lower scale of the Campus and most of the buildings at The Lawrenceville School. Therefore, the approach to keep the new Field House at a comparable height was a key parameter for design, especially because of its closeness to the student houses and the Kirby Science building. The large volumes for the pool, ice, and basketball are depressed and buried at a lower level, taking advantage of the height difference of the site in section, and leaving the upper floor as a concourse level from which the spectator can look down into all the venues.

The curved roofscapes unify and break down the scale of the building. The historic Field House has beautiful curved structural frames, and the new Field House echoes the fillet curved profile and gives the building its special character by joining two straight sections with a curved peak. This simple move of concave ceilings creates a unique curved profile that allows for lateral light through the clerestories at the dining space and hides mechanical rooms, bringing volume to the pool and ice rink while breaking down the scale of this large facility. 

Design approach to circulation

This project merges the general student with the athlete student, by including the dining component under the same roof. This important decision, driven by the school to ensure that the building belongs to everyone, has a great impact on the everyday life on campus, as it becomes the every day center where students meet for multiple activities throughout the day. 

The new dining facility accommodates over 500 students, staff and faculty daily. The design includes a mezzanine dedicated to first year students as a way to create a sense of belonging and community.

The circulation plan creates a clean separation of users, but also helps to create a simple wayfinding strategy by allocating main users to each floor. The upper floor acts as a concourse level, overlooking the venues and connecting them all at the same floor level. The large community and gathering spaces are the dining and the upper lobby, acting as anchors for the common spaces, which then dissipate throughout the building, linking all the programs. 

The lower floor is designed to be the athletes’ level, as it brings all the students from the fields across the road, the guests arriving for competitions, and the students accessing locker rooms to enter their respective sports, either coming from the main campus from the north, or from the fields across the creek and the south loop road. 

For more information contact Vinicius Gorgati or Marta Guerra-Pastrián.

Sasaki colorful logo Sasaki 中文