Space frees up in Grove Street area

Planning is underway for a new University social science building on Prospect Street that could potentially free up space for additional residential colleges.

The facility, which would stand adjacent to Luce Hall, will be home to the Political Science Department and the MacMillan Center for Area and International Studies. When the new building opens, the Political Science Department will vacate Brewster Hall, which is located in the heart of the Grove Street Cemetery area where Yale administrators may be considering building two new residential colleges.

At the same time, the fate of several other Yale buildings near Brewster Hall, including the School of Management’s Donaldson Commons and the School of Art’s Hammond Hall, seems in doubt — making the area appear ideally suited for a large-scale development.

Plans for the new Political Science Department building are a “done deal,” department chair Peter Swenson said. The department could move out of Brewster by 2008 or 2009, he said. Deputy Provost for Undergraduate and Graduate Programs Lloyd Suttle, who oversees campus facilities projects, confirmed that planning for the new building is underway.

The building will also house the MacMillan Center, which has grown over the last few years and needs more working space than Luce Hall can offer, Suttle said. The building’s construction schedule has not been formalized, he said, and he is not sure when building may begin.

Swenson said he did not know what would become of Brewster Hall after the Political Science Department moves out, and Suttle declined to comment on that issue. But Sociology Department chair Karl Mayer said his department has planned since as early as 2002 to move into Brewster Hall if the Political Science Department received a new facility. Mayer said he has recently contacted University administrators about the pending construction projects and is still waiting to hear if Brewster’s fate has changed.

None of the other three large buildings standing in the Brewster Hall area — Suttle Hall, the Political Science trailer at 8 Prospect Pl.; Hammond Hall, home to the Yale School of Art’s sculpture department; and Donaldson Commons, the Yale School of Management’s cafeteria — seem to be in the University’s long-term plans.

Plans for a new SOM facility on a four-acre site between 155 and 175 Whitney Ave. could render the business school’s cafeteria at Donaldson Commons obsolete.

“Something is going to happen because the School of Management is going to have a new campus,” Mayer said. “They probably won’t keep [Donaldson Commons].”

Tabitha Wilde, an SOM spokeswoman, said she did not know about the future of Donaldson Commons but did confirm that the SOM’s new campus would have its own dining facility.

Hammond Hall, located west of Brewster Hall, also may not factor into the University’s future plans. The century-old building has been home to the Yale School of Art’s sculpture program for more than three decades, but a new facility for the department is currently under construction on Park Street across from Pierson College, as part of a $53 million project that includes a parking garage and gallery.

The sculpture program is slated to move into the facility in mid-2008, according to the Yale Facilities Office.

Meanwhile, the temporary political science trailer on Prospect Place will not be needed once the department’s new building is complete, Swenson said, as the prefabricated building was never meant as a permanent construction.

The University’s 2000 study “A Framework for Campus Planning” proposes that the region north of Grove Street Cemetery be used as a residential area. In the report, the area between Canal and Sachem streets is divided into two parcels — each large enough to accommodate a residential college — split by a pedestrian corridor from Hillhouse Avenue to Canal Street.

The development of the cemetery area is one of 19 initiatives suggested in the report, and one of six labeled as having “special significance” to Yale’s campus.

The University has already taken steps to expand into the cemetery area and the adjacent Dixwell neighborhood. Last year, Yale opened the Rose Center, a community center and the new headquarters of the Yale Police Department, at 101 Ashmun St., while the new home of University Health Services is planned for the corner of Canal Street and Lock Street

In August, the city announced a plan to cede three dead-end streets in the area — Prospect Place as well as parts of Mansfield Street and Sachem Street — to the University in return for $10 million in local infrastructure improvements.

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