A Haven for architects

The world’s most notable architects are found in Paris, Tokyo, New York and — perhaps most overlooked — right here in New Haven.

New Haven hosts an architectural community that is larger, more vibrant, and more widely recognized than those in other regions its size. Thanks in part to the Yale School of Architecture, that community continues to attract leading designers to its ranks.

Data listed by the Connecticut chapter of the American Institute of Architects indicates that there are 112 architecture firms in greater New Haven. The Hartford area has only 77, even though the populations of New Haven and Hartford are of similar size. Among the major forces behind the high concentration of architects in New Haven are the Architecture School’s graduates and the community’s efforts to keep them here after they have finished school.

“As a university town, it is intellectually very stimulating for an architect to live in and to practice,” said Herbert Newman of the architecture firm Herbert S. Newman and Partners.

One of the connections among architects in New Haven is the Alliance for Architecture, a division of the New Haven Arts Council. The alliance is a forum for designers and people interested in architecture to gather and discuss what is happening in the community in terms of design.

“The alliance is our way of telling the public, ‘Look what’s happening in New Haven, it’s pretty incredible,’” said Daniel Pardy, chairman of the Alliance for Architecture.

In recent years, the city has attracted a large number of practicing architects whose work can be seen both in New Haven and around the world. Newman’s firm, located on the walkway near Morse and Stiles colleges, was responsible for the design of Swing Space. Pardy said many of New Haven’s architects have moved here in the last two to seven years.

Those involved with architecture in New Haven agree that a main attraction to the location is the Yale School of Architecture.

“The School of Architecture is one of the most respected schools in the world,” said Jon Pickard ARC ’79 of the Pickard Chilton architecture firm. “It offers some of the finest intellectual resources available.”

Pickard’s notable work includes his contribution to the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — the world’s tallest skyscrapers. He worked on the project under Cesar Pelli, dean of the School of Architecture from 1977 until 1984, who also practices architecture in New Haven.

Newman said the quality and efforts of the school, combined with New Haven’s proximity to New York and Boston, helps to create a good environment for business.

“There are a high number of people interested in art and architecture here, which leads to a high number of available clients,” Newman said.

Robert Stern ARC ’65, dean of the Yale School of Architecture, described the relationship between the New Haven architectural community and the School of Architecture as symbiotic. Many students at the School of Architecture are able to work in New Haven and are then able to move on to have their own practices, Stern said. According to local practitioners, Yale attracts people who might not otherwise come to New Haven but who then stay because of the welcoming professional community.

Dana Gulling ARC ’03 said New Haven offers a lot of internship opportunities for architecture students. She said that while she interned at Herbert S. Newman and Partners, she was able to work on major projects such as the Pierson-Sage Garage.

“It was nice having a local setting and a link to Yale,” she said.

Newman said many graduates of the School of Architecture stay in New Haven because of the positive nature of their experiences in the city.

“The architecture school experience is a very meaningful one,” he said. “People who come here to study are often attracted to working in the environment where they were educated.”

Jay Brotman of Svigals Associates noted that his employees, as members of the local professional community, make use of the School of Architecture. In particular, he said, lectures at the school draw the attention of employees.

“The school brings into town many professors who teach and have a practice, and there are a lot of collaborative affairs,” Brotman said.

He also said the School of Architecture is a draw for firms because of the large pool of potential employees that it offers.

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