BAC fence makes good neighbors

Despite initial resentment, residents of the Cambridge Oxford apartment complex have no concerns about the surprise construction of a 150-foot fence across their backyard.

Typically, new construction projects at Yale are well-publicized. But the erection of a fence bordering the parking lot of the Yale Center for British Art and the Cambridge Oxford apartments on High Street was one exception — residents were not notified about its construction. Though this initially drew the ire of some residents living in the neighboring apartments, they soon appreciated its security benefits.

Kristie Tafel, the property manager of the Cambridge Oxford apartments, admitted that several residents, many of whom are Yale students, were frustrated that the fence obstructs access to the back of their apartment building through the British Art Center’s parking lot

“Many residents use the parking lot as a cut-through for convenience,” she said.

The metal fence, which is composed of individual green posts approximately 8 feet high and which stretches across the entire parking lot, was completed two weeks ago. It replaced the original fence which dated back to 1974, before the establishment of the Yale Center for British Art three years later.

Recently, the original fence had fallen into disrepair.

Eighteen months ago, the British Art Center sent a bid to replace the original fence with an exact replica. So meticulous was the restoration process that a conservator in a laboratory worked to match the green of the original fence, McDonald said.

Despite some initial resentment, tenants soon felt the fence was a net positive. One resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said the fence had minimal impact on her day-to-day activities.

Kristin Smith ’09, who lives in an apartment block overlooking the parking lot, said that if anything, the fence improved security for local residents.

“There were incidents of nonresidents accessing the apartments and parking on private residential space,” Smith said.

Amy McDonald, public relations and marketing manager for the British Art Center, further noted that no official complaints had been lodged against the fence.

The construction of the fence on High Street is part of ongoing restoration efforts by the British Art Center.

For the past six years, the Center has worked with Peter Inskip & Peter Jenkins Architects, a London-based firm, in an effort to study and conserve the British Art Center building, which was designed by renowned architect Louis Kahn.

The building received the 25-Year Award from the American Institute of Architects in 2005.


  • Josh

    I agree that the fence is very nice looking.

    But how did the author of the article possibly conclude that the residents of Cambridge-Oxford have "no concerns" about the fence?

    As a resident of the Cambridge, I think the fence is very troublesome. I used to always cut across the parking lot of the BAC to get home at night. Now with the fence there, I have to walk all the way down Chapel to High St and then down High Street to get home. This adds a good five minutes to my walk down some streets that are very scary in the dark. Because of this, I am afraid to walk home at night even though the library I work in is not particularly far away. This has had a significant negative impact on my quality of life.

    Also, I'm not sure if there's any "security benefits" to this. In addition to making our walks home much less safe, it has also the effect of turning our parking lot into a cage: if there were an attacker in the parking lot, there would be nowhere to run besides down the long alley towards high st.

    Bad move, Yale.