Sculpture building opens for Architecture Sch.

With regard to construction around campus, the University is playing a “large game of dominos,” according to School of Architecture Dean Robert Stern.

As new facilities open up, programs are rotated around campus to allow for other buildings to be renovated or demolished. The new Sculpture Building and Garage, which opened this semester on Edgewood Avenue, one block west of Pierson College, is one of these dominos.

Students walk up to the New Sculpture Building and Garage on Edgewood Avenue, currently serving as headquarters for the School of Architecture until summer 2008.
Salvador Andrade
Students walk up to the New Sculpture Building and Garage on Edgewood Avenue, currently serving as headquarters for the School of Architecture until summer 2008.

The building will be a “swing space” for the Architecture Department while the Art & Architecture Building is under renovation, so sculpture students and faculty will not move in until 2008. Sculpture’s eventual move to Edgewood Avenue will in turn make it possible to demolish Hammond Hall, the Sculpture department’s current home, to make way for the proposed two new residential colleges.

Beyond its university-wide implications, the new Sculpture Building will bring changes to the art scene at Yale.

The building offers individual and group studios, as well as a large gallery space and a conference room to be used for lectures and exhibitions. It meets the specific needs of graduate sculpture students — of which there are currently 19 — with its workshops for metalworking, woodworking, casting and finishing plastics.

But its open-air sculpture courtyard promises to provide a haven for all overworked Yalies, and restaurants and shops for the public will eventually occupy the ground floor of its parking garage.

Another benefit of the new building is its close proximity to other Art School sites, as opposed to Hammond Hall, which is located on the other side of campus off Prospect Street, said Joseph Scanlan, an assistant professor of sculpture at the School of Art.

“The new building will also help to solidify the cohesiveness of the School of Art,” Scanlan said in an e-mail.

Felisa Funes ART ’08 said this proximity will increase synergy within the School.

“The move will make art at Yale more interdisciplinary as interaction between different departments becomes more accessible,” Funes said.

But the opening of the new building has not gone off without a hitch. Undergraduate architecture majors are using the storage space in the basement for their studios and classrooms, and many complained of a lack of light and ventilation, as well as leaky pipes.

“One day when I came into the basement to work on my project, I found drips from a pipe labelled ‘sanitation’ forming a little puddle,” said Terrence Ho ’09, an architecture major. “We all joked that though we didn’t have access to air or light in the basement, we at least had running water.”

Some sculpture students also expressed reservations about moving into the new building. They said they think the austere atmosphere of a new, pristine building may be more restrictive than that of Hammond Hall, an older building with a “warehouse feel” that allowed them to take certain liberties with the space.

The sculpture building is a landmark piece in terms of Yale’s environmental agenda. Johann Mordhorst, one of the architects at Kieran Timberlake Associates who worked on the new building, said it was designed with sustainability in mind.

“The greatest challenge was balancing energy performance with the transparency of the building,” Mordhorst said.

During construction, priority was given to locally manufactured materials, and the building is fitted with innovative devices such as Nanogel, a type of translucent panel, in order to reduce energy loss.

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