Noted alum to design new SOM campus

Famed architect Lord Norman Foster ARC ’62 has been selected to design the Yale School of Management’s new campus on Whitney Avenue, Yale President Richard Levin confirmed Monday night.

Foster — who also designed the Hearst Tower in New York City, the Beijing Capital International Airport, and the Millennium Bridge in London — is famous for his sophisticated, modern style of architecture. Yale administrators held an international design competition to choose an architect for SOM, narrowing the submissions down to four finalists before deciding to implement the design submitted by Foster + Partners.

Levin said Foster’s concept for the new SOM campus was typical of the architect’s style.

“It’s very open with a lot of glass, but also very traditional Yale,” Levin said. “I think he will design something that is at once contemporary in feel and at the same time echoes those things that are most characteristic of Yale buildings.”

Foster said he considers his time at Yale to have been a formative period in his development as an architect.

“It is an honor to be able to work once again in this context and to contribute to Yale University’s continuing tradition of excellence and innovation,” Foster said in a statement.

This is not the first time that Yale has sought the help of a famous architect in designing plans for construction around campus. The Yale University Art Gallery and the Center for British Art were both designed by famed architect Louis Kahn, while Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen designed Ingalls Rink, Ezra Stiles and Morse colleges. The Art & Architecture Building was designed by renowned American architect and former School of Architecture Dean Paul Rudolph.

School of Architecture professor Kent Bloomer said he has not yet seen the plans for the new project but is not surprised by the selection of Foster in light of Yale’s previous architectural endeavors.

“Yale is outstanding in its insistence on having major architects design its buildings, and he’s an absolutely superb architect,” Bloomer said. “This is not a University that suddenly becomes pragmatic and does something because it’s inexpensive or easy. They go out of their way to pick people of great accomplishment, and it seems that they’re doing that again here.”

Levin said he was pleased to announce Foster’s selection as the architect for the new campus and to commended him on a brilliant and beautiful design.

“Lord Foster is one of the most well-respected graduates of the School of Architecture and a very devoted citizen of Yale,” Levin said in a statement. “We are confident that in its new home, the Yale School of Management will continue to attract and educate leaders of business and society for generations to come.”

Most SOM students were able to see a preview of Foster’s design on Sept. 4 at a welcome back event for management students. Angela Li SOM ’08 said administrators walked the students through the final design selection process and assured them that the building would be constructed to meet standards of sustainable design.

“It’s very modern and sleek in its concept,” Li said of Foster’s design. “There’s a lot of light inside and a lot of open space for people to gather.”

The new building will be located on the four-acre plot between 155 and 175 Whitney Avenue designated for SOM’s new campus and will include a courtyard space, which Levin said was required in order to preserve the sense of a “Yale building.” Foster’s design will double the footprint of the campus from its current 110,000 square feet to approximately 230,000 square feet.

The new SOM building is currently set to be completed by fall 2011, but no official start date for construction has been set at this time.

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