Planning for new colleges continues

Despite the delay of the two new residential colleges, the New Colleges Advisory Committee met Monday for the first time since the economy went south.

The meeting, which was convened on relatively short notice, covered little new business. But it signals that although construction of the colleges has been tabled, design work and planning are still moving ahead.

“We are authorized to continue work on the designs,” said Robert A.M. Stern, the dean of the School of Architecture whose New York-based firm is designing the two new colleges. “We will continue with the drawings and once we are done, things will be better. We will then have more support from alumni and donors.”

Deputy Provost Lloyd Suttle, who also sits on the committee, said there would be an upcoming announcement on plans for the colleges.

Monday’s meeting mostly consisted of a report on the decisions that the Yale Corporation and the officers of the University had made so far, said Silliman Master Judith Krauss, who chairs the committee. Its members, which include eight students, were invited to weigh in on the balance of singles in suites, the program spaces in the basement and the size of the dining halls, she said.

The discussions of the committee are confidential.

The committee was created by the Yale College Council in November to give students a venue to review design and programming aspects of the two new residential colleges. The committee can make recommendations but has no decision-making power.

The body met twice before University President Richard Levin said in February the construction of the two new residential colleges will be delayed, along with almost all other construction projects.

Even though construction is no longer on course to start on time in 2011, designs and drawings for the project may be complete by late 2010 so that the project will be shovel-ready as soon as the economy improves.

The initial planning phase — deciding on the scope of the project, such as how many dorm rooms to build, and approximating the cost — is already finished.

Robert A.M. Stern Architects, the New York-based firm that is designing the new colleges, has moved on to the second phase of accounting for code requirements and details such as entryway locations and dorm layouts. Yale has already raised enough money to finish this phase, which will be completed by the summer, Levin said.

The next stage is to make final decisions about layout, size and appearance. But Yale does not yet have the money to pay for this work, Levin said.

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