Renovations will create new art district

The University is in the midst of creating a new “art district” near Chapel and York streets — which it will do by renovating old arts buildings and creating new ones — that will likely be completed within the next decade at a cost of approximately $300 million, Yale President Richard Levin said.

The anticipated refurbishings will impact the Schools of Music, Drama, Art, and Architecture as well as the Yale Center for British Art and the Yale University Art Gallery. While the four graduate schools will have to meet 50 percent of the cost through fund raising, the center and the gallery will have to provide 100 percent of financial support, YUAG Director Jock Reynolds said.

One of the first projects that will be constructed is a new sculpture building that will be used in 2007-08 as a swing space for the School of Architecture while the school’s building undergoes renovations, and an adjacent building for the History of Art Department is constructed, Levin said.

“Our plan is to go ahead with construction of the sculpture building this summer and have it completed by the following summer,” Levin said.

Meanwhile, several projects included in the plan have already been completed. The School of Art moved into the newly constructed Green Hall during the 2000-01 school year, Reynolds said. In the coming years, a building adjacent to the British Art Center now used by several departments will be rebuilt to make more room for museum collections, art conservation, and teaching, he said. Reynolds said the School of Drama will also be able to look forward to a new home for the Yale Repertory Theater.

The administration will have to determine where the schools will move while they are being renovated, Reynolds said.

“There’s a whole set of dominoes here, which requires all of the directors and deans to think together not just about the space they need, but where they need them,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds said fund raising is progressing smoothly and that the University is in full financial support of the art district plan. Last year, there were delays to the renovations to the Art and Architecture building and concerns about fund raising.

Renovations to the Art Gallery’s Louis Kahn building are ongoing and are part of the art district plan. Additionally, the art gallery plans to extend into Street Hall, the current home of the History of Art Department and the location of the first arts school in the country, Deputy Provost Lloyd Suttle said.

Several students said they are pleased with the proposed project.

“It’s important that Yale helps to nurture this creativity rather than just focus on academics, because arts is just as important as any other academic subject,” Kathy Tran ’09 said. “So many Yalies who aren’t directly involved will still see the shows, so it’ll help everyone, even the community.”

Alina Liao ’09 said she thinks the initiative will promote awareness of art at Yale.

“I like the idea of more exposure and openness to arts at Yale,” she said.

But Tran said that although the project is worthwhile, she thinks the cost is “a bit much” and that students might be annoyed by the surrounding construction.

“Construction is going to go on forever because it’s such a massive project,” she said. “But that part of town needs some happiness.”

The art district master plan is being developed with the architecture firm Polshek Partnership in New York, Reynolds said.

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