Silliman to renovate in summer

In a departure from Yale’s typical 15-month residential college renovation schedule, officials have approved a proposal allowing for preliminary construction work on Silliman College during the next two summers. The summer construction will precede the college’s complete renovation during the 2006-2007 school year.

Yale University Planner Pamela Delphenich said Friday that the summer “enabling projects” should allow Yale to shut down Silliman — the University’s largest residential college in terms of population and physical size — for only one year. Without the summer construction, Yale would have been forced to spend two years on the project, renovating half of the college each year.

If officials had decided to adopt the two-year plan, half of the college’s students both years would have had to move into alternative housing while the other half remained in Silliman.

“We want to keep the college intact,” Delphenich said.

Silliman Master Judith Krauss said builders will take on free standing projects during both summers and there should be no effect on students moving back into the college for the fall of each year.

This summer, Krauss said, Yale may replace the slates on the college’s roofs.

Construction crews are currently working on Pierson College. Work will begin on Davenport College in 2004-2005 and Trumbull College in 2005-2006.

Unlike other colleges, the number of beds in Silliman will probably not increase, Krauss said, because she and Silliman Dean Hugh Flick wanted to keep the number of students at a “manageable size.”

Silliman is so large already, in fact, that the University has not yet determined how its students will be housed for the renovation year. Krauss said the all of the college’s students would barely fit in the Swing Space temporary residence hall, and they would only fit in that building if housed four to a room. Krauss said housing freshmen on Old Campus is also not a very viable option.

Other temporary rooming solutions include giving upperclassmen sufficient warning to find alternative housing or looking for additional annex space, Krauss said.

Planners have conceived a “dramatic entrance” for Byers Hall, the part of the college which contains Silliman’s common room and dining hall. Krauss said the current plan is to bring the building’s front door out to the end of the archway and open up the walls so students will be able see through glass into the college’s basement area.

Also planned is the relocation of Silliflicks, the college’s basement movie theater, which will be graded to produce a theatrical seating effect and may contain more seats.

The college’s activity space — which consists of a basement climbing wall, basketball courts, music rooms, darkroom, bindery and computer cluster — will also be reconfigured. Of these, any combination of the squash court, bindery and darkroom may not survive renovations, Krauss said, depending on student interest.

One other large project may involve Silliman’s extensive tunnel system. Tunnels connect the relatively newer parts of the residential college to Byers Hall and the Master’s House. But these tunnels do not connect to the older Sheffield Scientific School buildings, which are the stone part of Silliman.

Krauss said builders have considered connecting the Sheffield buildings to the tunnel system. But digging could be difficult because Silliman is a major conduit for phone, electrical and computer cables, she said.

“They’re still exploring whether they can excavate sufficiently and at a reasonable cost to connect us all around,” Krauss said.

At the very least, Krauss said, Silliman’s “tower” will be connected to Byers Hall.

Officials have approved preliminary construction work on Silliman College during the next two summers. This construction will precede the complete renovation in 2006-2007.
Nathan Francis
Officials have approved preliminary construction work on Silliman College during the next two summers. This construction will precede the complete renovation in 2006-2007.

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