Pace increases for renovations

The academic year may be coming to a close, but the work of the University’s construction crews is only accelerating as Yale enters what officials call its most intensive construction period in recent history.

In addition to what officials called “phenomenal progress” in both ongoing and upcoming renovations to Yale’s residential colleges, architects and work teams have been tapped for several new projects pending funding appropriations by the Yale Corporation at its meeting this weekend, Vice President for Finance and Administration John Pepper said. The Fence Club building on York Street will receive the most comprehensive reworking over the summer and through the fall, and the Hall of Graduate Studies and Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall will undergo minor renovations, officials said.

The Corporation, the University’s highest decision-making body, will review a status report on the new Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology building to be built on Science Hill and is expected to authorize funding for the building in June, Pepper said. Pepper said the fact that he did not yet know the full status of all the campus building projects — which he estimated to be a dozen or more — was evidence of the extent of the construction and renovation programs.

“We really haven’t, I don’t think, had more activity than we have today,” Pepper said.

Lloyd Suttle ’69, the deputy provost for undergraduate and graduate programs, said the renovations to SSS will consist mostly of simple window repairs and replacements, but more work will need to be done to repair some of the bathrooms in HGS, more than 40 of which were damaged during a flood when one of the building’s pipes burst in January. But he said only the Fence Club will require a longer renovations process than the summer months can provide.

“We will convert what was the Fence Club into a new headquarters for the Theater Studies Department,” Suttle said. “That means bringing it up to code, with more bathrooms and handicapped access. It will become a much-needed home for the Theater Studies Department, which lost its space for the renovation of Davenport College.”

Renovations to Fence will begin right after final exams, Suttle said, but they will not be completed by the fall. The building is scheduled to reopen next January with refurbished classrooms as well as administrative space for Theater Studies, he said.

The Yale University Art Gallery is also slated for completion at the end of this year and will feature a separate and secure entrance to its lecture hall space, which Suttle said previously required a walk through the galleries themselves. He said this renovation was the first step towards a larger reworking of the University’s art space.

“Eventually we will build a new building for the Art History Department, and the art galleries will expand through [the Kahn Building] and the old art gallery and through Street Hall,” Suttle said.

Before the summer is over, however, Suttle said renovations to Leigh Hall — a faculty and teaching space for the Music Department — and construction on the new Class of ’54 Chemistry Research Building will be completed. He said Leigh Hall will serve much the same function as it did before, though now with soundproof walls, and the new chemistry building will be dedicated primarily to research work rather than teaching laboratories.

“It’s designed for truly state-of-the-art research,” Suttle said. “Undergraduates will be in it to the extent that they work directly with the faculty, and that happens quite a bit at Yale, but teaching labs will not meet there per se.”

University Planner Pamela Delphenich said renovations to Stoeckel Hall and Hendrie Hall, both primarily music buildings, are also in the planning stages, though construction will most likely not begin within the next year. Other projects in the planning stages include renovations to the Rudolph Art and Architecture Building, the Afro-American Cultural Center and the Whitney Avenue Anthropology building, as well as a new Political Science building planned for construction on Prospect Street.

Still, as an alumnus who spent three years in Ezra Stiles College, Suttle said the residential colleges remain his first priority.

“I’m a product of the residential college system, and I think the residential college system is the most important thing keeping Yale in the premier position it’s in,” Suttle said.

Trumbull is the next residential college slated for renovations, set to begin following this year’s commencement ceremonies. Silliman College will undergo preliminary external refurbishment this summer and will renovated more extensively beginning in May 2006, followed by Jonathan Edwards College in May 2007. Since renovations to Calhoun, Morse and Ezra Stiles colleges will not be as extensive as with the other colleges, Suttle said students in those colleges will not be moved to Swing Space.

Plans for the new Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology building on Science Hill will be reviewed by the Yale Corporation this weekend.
Kari Rittenbach
Plans for the new Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology building on Science Hill will be reviewed by the Yale Corporation this weekend.

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