City Plan Commission mulls Morse, Stiles renovations

While the future of Yale’s two new residential colleges becomes increasingly certain, it was the future of Yale’s two most recently built residential colleges — Morse and Ezra Stiles colleges — that were a subject of discussion at Wednesday’s meeting of the New Haven City Plan Commission.

The team of designers responsible for the Morse and Ezra Stiles renovation projects — set to take place during the 2009-’10 and 2010-’11 academic years, respectively — met with the Commission to seek approval for work this summer to prepare for the proposed underground additions to the colleges during renovation. Their plan, which the commissioners passed unanimously, details a new “program space” that will be situated beneath the “crescent” of grass that separates Morse and Ezra Stiles from Tower Parkway.

Michael Morand, associate vice president of New Haven and State Affairs, and the City Plan Commission discuss logistics required for Morse and Stiles colleges' renovations.
Dounia Bredes
Michael Morand, associate vice president of New Haven and State Affairs, and the City Plan Commission discuss logistics required for Morse and Stiles colleges' renovations.

But before the construction gets underway, the set of utilities that currently inhabits the underground space, including electric and telecommunication lines as well as pipes for water and sewage, must to be transplanted. Under the management of KieranTimberlake Associates — the architectural firm responsible for Pierson and Davenport colleges’ renovations and the construction of the Sculpture Building — the project will begin this summer and will continue into the fall.

Michael Morand ’87 DIV ’93, Yale’s associate vice president of New Haven and State Affairs, said the expansion is part of a plan to satisfy students’ request for more common space in the two colleges.

“The project here is to bring these colleges — that were built most recently but are still decades old — up to code and to give them interiors more like those of other colleges,” he said during the presentation, referencing the unique qualities original architect Eero Saarinen ARC ’34 designed for the two colleges.

Added Morand: “There is not as much common space in the colleges, which the underground additions provide.”

One concern raised by Patricia King, the Commission’s chair, was whether the construction would impede traffic on Tower Parkway this summer.

David Yager, a senior architect and planner with Yale’s Office of Facilities who will be covering the day-to-day operations of the utilities transfers, indicated that there would be at least one lane obstructed, but told the Commission he does not think there will be a major problem.

“We have traffic relocation plans and the project will only last until the early fall,” he said.

A temporary pedestrian walkway in the area has also stipulated in these plans.

Among other proposals put before the Commission, Yale-New Haven Hospital sought and garnered approval for adding and upgrading signs.

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