Cap & Gown to build 1,770-square-foot addition

Its consultant won exemptions from zoning rules, but now the club can’t increase its membership

The Princeton Planning Board on Thursday approved the Cap & Gown Club’s request to build a 1,770-square-foot addition. The new pavilion and basement will include a 900-square-foot study lounge and overflow dining for house parties.

Karl Pettit, a member of the Class of 1967 who serves on the Club’s House Committee, explained that Cap currently erects outdoor tents for house parties — a stopgap that worked well until changes in fire code required the tents to stand apart from the clubhouse. The new space can hold 96 seats for dining.

When not used for dining, the pavilion will function as a study lounge. Michael Farewell, the project’s architect and a member of the Class of 1978, told the Planning Board that Cap students today are more studious than they were in his time at Princeton — so studious, in fact, that the study lounge was the most-requested feature in a poll of current members. Mr. Farewell was the architect for Cap’s 5,000-square-foot addition in 2009.

The approval came with the restriction that Cap may not increase its membership without authorization from the Board, due to concern that the club’s small parking lot may not be able to accommodate more members. Cap currently has 15 parking spaces, where zoning rules require it to have 46. The Board exempted the club from the parking requirement in 2009.

Elizabeth McKenzie, the president of a planning consulting firm who represented Cap before the Board, scored another exemption for the club. Whereas zoning requirements had barred Cap from building within 25 feet of the road on its west side, the club now has approval to build within two feet of Roper Lane.

The current Cap & Gown clubhouse was built in 1908 under architect Raleigh Gildersleeve, who also oversaw the construction of McCosh Hall and Lower Pyne.

Princeton University