Drawings give first look at new colleges

Updated Wednesday 8 p.m. Shortly after Yale selected Robert A.M. Stern ARC ’65 to be the architect for its two new residential colleges, the School of Architecture dean said that the buildings he was going to design would “look like Yale colleges.”

He wasn’t kidding.

The main courtyard of the north college is framed by a large tower.
The main courtyard of the north college is framed by a large tower.

Designs for the new colleges have not been unveiled to the public, but an artist commissioned by Stern’s architectural firm recently posted sketches of the project on his Web site. The pencil drawings show two colleges that will be built of brick with stone embellishments, will feature towers in various locations and, like all of Yale’s existing colleges, will be defined by their courtyards.

There will be no bridge linking the two colleges aboveground, as was once planned, but the new colleges will share a kitchen. The sketch of the south college’s dining hall shows a room that is a kind of hybrid of the eating spaces in Trumbull and Branford colleges, featuring Trumbull’s alcove eating area and Branford’s barrel vault ceiling.

Of course, the new colleges will be bigger than all of the ones designed by James Gamble Rogers 1889, because they will house students for all four years.

The new colleges seem to have less detailing than Yale’s existing colleges, which could be due either to cost-consciousness or incomplete renderings. But Stern’s colleges will clearly continue the tradition of having variously proportioned buildings; the renderings show that the colleges will sport soaring towers but will also include wings as low as two stories tall.

Stern has emphasized in recent interviews that the towers he is designing for the new colleges are crucial to the project, because they can serve as visual landmarks for the Prospect Street site, which some students have said is too far from the heart of campus.

The towers may also prove to be a useful fundraising tool. While naming rights for the colleges themselves will not be made available to donors, Yale’s wealthy alumni can pay for the names of towers, entryways, dining halls and even a walkway between the two colleges.

The renderings were drawn by Jeff Stikeman, whom Stern’s New York-based firm, Robert A.M. Stern Architects, hired for the project. Yale officials have shown some of the sketches — which Stikeman has now removed from his Web site — to top donors over the past month, Vice President for Development Inge Reichenbach said in a recent interview.

A University spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the authenticity of the sketches. But one of the donors who was shown the drawings confirmed that they matched what Yale officials had presented.

Since the announcement that Stern would design the colleges, there has been little doubt that the buildings would be of a traditional style. But the renderings do seem to reveal, once and for all, Yale’s plans to demolish the Seeley G. Mudd Library, built in 1982, and Hammond Hall, completed in 1904 and known primarily for its decorative, Beaux-Arts front.

Brewster Hall, home to the Political Science Department, will come down, too, though that is little surprise, given that Rosenkranz Hall, across Prospect Street from Brewster, is almost finished and has always been billed as a social sciences building.

And, while the economy had threatened to put planning for the colleges on hold, Stern’s firm will continue to flesh out its plans even further. Reichenbach said that a donor has provided funds to continue funding the design work for the new colleges even as planning for other University construction projects remains halted due to the recession.

But when the colleges will actually be built is another question. At its April meeting, the Yale Corporation reviewed plans for one, two and three year delays to the colleges, which were originally slated to open in 2013.

Click here to view a slideshow of the sketches.


  • Football fan

    They're beautiful!

  • '12

    Love it. This will probably face criticism for not being "innovative enough." I say better safe than sorry! The colleges look and feel like Yale… and they don't seem like a Morse/Stiles-type experiment gone wrong.

  • Anonymous

    stern-o came through!

  • anonymous

    love the tower in the north courtyard.

  • Anonymous

    two new faux-branfords! how quaint! how delightful!

    thanks, stern, for bolstering my squirrels' ego, and also for delivering a firm slap to saarinen's right-angle-less visage.

  • Alum '04.

    Safe is right, #3. They're safe. And bland: it's faux faux Gothic. I really hope that they add some unique touches in the detailing (and that there is some detailing at all). What makes Branford both interesting and beautiful are the little surprises throughout the college: the carved bosses, the figures in the windowpanes, the surprising small balconies, and the decorative niches. (This is also helps to explain why Sterling feels real and Bass seems slightly pre-fab).

    I really hope Stern will go a little wild in the details, as he's stayed well within the bounds with his broader strokes. And I also hope that the state of the economy won't hamper the construction plans: one of the reasons Morse and Stiles are considered failures by many (though not me) is because their budgets were cut throughout the project, and Saarinen's plans couldn't be implemented fully. Let's not have that happen again.

  • The Contrarian

    They're neither "safe" nor "bland" -- that would be Harvard's Houses built with Sterling money. At least one battle against the Modernist Barbarians has been won.
    Now if only Becton were torn down -- I'll donate money for that fund!

  • roflcopter

    howard roark is displeased

  • yale11

    I was skeptical, but these sketches are beautiful. And Stern is brilliant for his comment about the towers being essential for landmarks on prospect. It will help them feel less far away.

    It does look a lot like Branford though.. BFA!

  • Terry Hughes

    Absolutely wonderful. The artist who did these drawings, Jeff Stikeman, makes very clear on his very interesting website that the drawings are low on detailing because he didn't have time to provide it. This is as good a start as one could possiblys hope for.

    Go Stern! Go Levin! Go Yale!

  • yalesnark

    I think that the plans are "pretty," in a costume drama sort of way, but hardly speak to Yale's international and cutting-edge ambitions. Although Morse and Stiles are hardly attractive, we Yalies really don't need to worry about buildings being built in that style, the style of Brutalism, anymore. Brutalism, which gave modern architecture a bad name, is very much over. No longer does architecture cultivate the big, hulky, and ugly as it did in the past.

    Don't get me wrong: I love Gothic Yale, But I also feel that, when we compare Gothic Yale to the real deal at Oxbridge, Yale cannot help but come up short.

    The great thing about Yale's modernist buildings, like the Kahn art galleries, is that they were what put Yale physically, intellectually, and aesthetically on the map. They did something new and beautiful that Oxbridge didn't have, and thus they told the world (and they still do) that Yale had found its own place, its own culture, its own personality. Yale had finally equalled, in terms of its campus, its old world rivals. Now Oxbridge has learned and only builds contemporary-looking architecture, too.

    I fear therefore that Stern's buildings in this retrograde style will consign Yale's new colleges to the dustbin of history, architecturally speaking. Yale could get a lot of attention--not to mention beauty and utility--out of building more interesting buildings. Need I add that Levin-- great president though he's been-- will be perpetually criticized for his own aesthetic naivete.

    If anyone here has spent more than a passing moment looking at works like those of Renzo Piano (e.g., Morgan Library, NYC, or Nasher Sculpture Gallery in Dallas), they will know that contemporary architecture can be a great deal more than what the stereotype seems to tell. Its all elegance and purity. Its often luxurious.

    Finally, does anyone think outside the conservative and aging cabal of Stern and Scully that revival styles have a solid place in future architectural practice? In most circles their line is entirely discredited. After all, you need only look at the new residential tower that Stern built on Central Park West, to see how maudlin his vision can be. The place is nice in terms of comfortable living space, but you then look at the stone-covered walls and see that he just didn't get things right. The stonework is badly done, and is very much plainer than the stonework of the past that one can see everywhere else in NYC. Indeed, rather than a tribute or extension of past architectural practice, the building is a bit of a letdown. Remember, there's no way of adequately and tastefully replicating the craftsmanship of the past. The masons and woodworkers are all dead now. People have moved on, and for better or worse, we should recognize this, lest our new colleges will look like half-baked fantasies of a bygone era. I

  • T.R

    Yes Howard Roark would seemed to be pleased. They do look like traditional ivy dorms not like that strip mall behind broadway. But in this economic time can that tower be built? Well if we are indeed in the 1930's perhaps they will try to pay similiar wages to mirror all the expansion that Yale completed in the 1930's. If not they'll be looking for a bail-out.

  • berkeleyite2011

    That "The main courtyard of the north college is framed by a large tower." looks suspiciously like South Court Berkeley as you look at the commonroom/dining hall area . . .

    to the contrarian: lets demolish kline biology tower too!

  • Branford alum

    I definitely did a double-take at that sketch of the dining hall. It's the Branford dining hall ceiling!

    I wonder whether part of why these sketches look so identical to existing Yale colleges is that the sketch artist was filling in some of the as-yet-undecided details with details from existing colleges. I am not an architect, but I strongly suspect that most of the work being done at this stage is the big stuff -- little things like the textures (which look so precisely like existing colleges in some of the drawings) might be decided later.

    Anyway, I agree with @6: I hope there are at least some details that are new. Too exact a copy would inevitably be inferior to the original.

  • Gareth Bronwyn

    Bravo! Bravo! "Lux" et "Veritas" would be perfect names for these gorgeous, majestic, respectful additions to an extraordinarily inspiring campus.

  • Another Branfordite

    When I visited the Oxbridge universities, my first thought was that Yale's buildings--particularly Branford College--were much more interesting and pleasing. The proposed colleges do look like Branford redux. The trick would be to keep the Branford resemblance, but add a new creative dimension. The analogy would be American Idol contestants who are advised not to mimic the original recordings, but to add something of their unique selves to the performance.

  • Hieronymus

    Mmm… I would think *students* would be pleased! Let's see how many Morsels and Stilesions (j/k: some of my best friends are Stilesians!) seek to transfer, for example.

    Fits in. Mighty nice. Courtyard looks like an idealized Silliman; agree with those who note (and, I assume, appreciate) the Branford dining-hall ceiling…

    Imagine a faux gothic Yale without drafts, floods, or physical plant failures: heaven!

  • Anonymous

    @#14 Branford alum: I agree - Branford dining hall ceiling with Trumbull's archways on the side. deja vu all over again?

  • Charybdis

    The details on this are largely adapted, often without finesse, from existing Yale buildings -- the Branford dining hall and Berkely college, as noted above. The "Large Tower" looks to me like a slimmed-down Bingham tower. In another photo, the lower parts of one of the Branford college wings facing Library street is placed under a crude, too-wide gable (J.G.R. subtly disguised the width of his buildings by narrowing the width of their gables).

    In short, nice, but not good enough. I still doubt that RAMSA has the chops to pull off convincing neo-gothic on this scale.

  • SayWhat?

    Everyone has forgotten to mention that Saybrook also has said ceiling.

  • Historian

    The comment from the dissenter "Yalesnark" is penetrating. It represents with articulateness a “counter” view, one we will hear A LOT. He is not incorrect in what he says. But his commentary has a major flaw.

    He states:

    “I think that the plans are "pretty," in a costume drama sort of way, but hardly speak to Yale's international and cutting-edge ambitions”

    Point taken. I might be on board with this if we were not talking about a residence, But we are. With all the palaver about how contemporary buildings can be comfortable and luxurious, I am the guy from Missouri: show me. Where? Where is there a large scale university RESIDENCE that gives you the living experience of our 1930s colleges? Might we be able to build a successful contemporary college? It is nice to be bold and to risk. It is even an important part of stewardship of an architectural heritage. But to take the chance on these residences? mmm . . . think I’ll pass on that one.

    “The great thing about Yale's modernist buildings, like the Kahn art galleries, is that they were what put Yale physically, intellectually, and aesthetically on the map.”

    Very very true. But they were not residences.

    “Yale could get a lot of attention--not to mention beauty and utility--out of building more interesting buildings”

    Sure – but would anyone want to live in them?

    “If anyone here has spent more than a passing moment looking at works like those of Renzo Piano (e.g., Morgan Library, NYC, or Nasher Sculpture Gallery in Dallas), they will know that contemporary architecture can be a great deal more than what the stereotype seems to tell. Its all elegance and purity. Its often luxurious.”

    Right: a library and a sculpture garden. mmhmmm.

    Is Yale chicken? Looking towards the past? Maybe. But is it ensuring the continuity and desirability of its undergraduate housing stock at a very challenging location? Yup. Here's where Scully and Stern are ageless: they understand that architecture bears some relationship to people, to life. I’ll go with them and take the chance of being named a dinosaur on this one . . .
    We'll see if RAMSA has the chops (and the $$$ since the chops may be dependent on the dough) to pull this off - not saying they do - but as for the approach: Sign me up


  • Anonymous

    This is a joke.
    I certainly understand that people aren't excited about living in the kind of hard core mid-twentieth century modernist buildings like Ezra Stiles, but this is beyond ridiculous.
    To believe that you need to build pseudo-pseudo-pseudo-pseudo Gothic buildings in order to create a pleasant space is an utter defeat of architecture. I think Stern should resign the head of the School of Architecture.

  • anon

    Yale is probably hopping mad about Stikeman publicizing these images without Yale's say-so. But the fact is that Yale put pictures of Stern's model, as well as a large slice of the rendering of the large tower, up on its own website weeks ago.

    See http://yaletomorrow.yale.edu/news/ccmeetingspring2009.html

  • Yale'59

    I agree with yalesnark-- this is Kinkade architecture!

  • TD04

    Hmm. yalesnark and Historian make compelling cases and countercases. What to conclude? Well, for me, it's a visceral thing: I understand Historian's reasoning, but my first reaction was still that they are not what I had hoped. So there aren't any Renzo-esque buildings used as residences? Doesn't mean there can't ever be.

  • Charybdis

    The problem with RAMSA, and with a lot of modern-trained architects trying to do traditional architecture, is that their buildings start as very simple geometric shapes onto which they hang some texture or detailing. Proper traditional architecture is more organic -- the shape and the detail are crafted together.

    These drawings reveal this process -- my guess is the drafter was given some rough building footprints and volumes, and then told to apply some Yale-style gothic detail. This is exactly how you wind up with dead, fake-looking results.

    The best of the James Gamble Rodgers work is remarkable for a number of reasons: it is very sensitive to distributing sunlight -- building heights and roof pitches are designed to fill the courtyards with the maximum amount of sunlight; the building shapes are sculptural, breaking up straight walls and varying roofscapes; and the level of detail is very fine indeed.

    Bob Stern's heart is in the right place -- and I agree with Historian that the highest priority for these buildings is the living experience they give their students (and that it probably takes "traditional" architecture to do that). But if these new colleges are to provide anything near the rich architectural experience to their inhabitants that Yale's 1920s and 1930s residential buildings do, I think that RAMSA may need to find a real architect and job the project out to them. Yale will also need to ensure that it spends enough money for the highest level of detail. Otherwise the new colleges may just be plain concrete boxes with pastry-tube architectural detail applied to them.

  • yblue

    I suspect that many people on this list either (1) don't have a good sense of contemporary architecture or (2) haven't seen Stern's work in person. If they knew contemporary architecture, they wouldn't talk continuously about Morse and Stiles. If they knew Stern's work in person, they would be horrified.

    Unfortunately, I live right next to one of Stern's buildings in New York City, and it's a disaster. Doesn't look anything like what it's supposed to imitate. They detail is sloppy, and the whole thing looks fake.

    Yale can do better.

  • T.R

    Hey if money becomes a problem perhaps they could keep the large tower by incorporating a Disney type ride with in the tower charge addmission and restore the endowment.

  • ew

    these are super-boring!!!

    gag me with a spoon.

  • Anonymous

    To those who suggest that anyone who properly understands modern architecture should appreciate it… take your elitist attitude and shove it. If someone makes a reasonable critique of something like modern architecture (of which there are many), then saying "oh you don't understand it well enough, I don't have to give you a thoughtful response," is an elitist cop out. Saarinen was not a genius, just ask the myriad of dissatisfied residents in his "innovative" buildings. There is a reason that buildings have been built largely the same way for so long… the design works. These builds are beautiful, functional, and innovative applications of new technology to old aesthetics (did you get that modernists? You can innovate with new technology to create beautiful renditions of traditional architectural forms?)

    Way to go Stern and Yale. My opinion of both has just risen dramatically.

  • Anonymous

    In an attempt to compare apples to apples: The massing in these renderings seems far superior to that at Whitman College at Princeton, designed by Demetri Porphyrios.

    Look at this tower at Whitman -- the least convincing attempt at a Gothic tower imaginable.


  • Justin

    I think this is what we call architectural plagiarism. The new colleges look like cheap imitations of older Yale buildings that are themselves Walt Disney versions of Oxbridge.

  • Anonymous

    As a current Yalie (in Berkeley) I have to say to all of those that critique the design for being to "safe" and not "innovative" or "groundbreaking" enough that there are places in Yale (or any institution) for that type of avant-garde architecture --the colleges aren't such a place. (so i agree with #21 Historian)

    Seriously, although some of my best friends are in Morse and Stiles, very few of them (and even fewer of us in other colleges) would want to live there; and many of us crossed our fingers as new admits that we wouldn't be in Morse or Stiles and have to live there.

    So basically, critique the architecture all you want, and it could certainly be more modern if that was the goal, but the point of these new colleges is to feel like a traditional home to thousands of future Yalies…

    if they were too different from the other older colleges, I believe it would only further differentiate them from the other colleges and further upset those that get put in those colleges. Their location is enough of a detractor without adding controversial architecture. This design further unifies them with the majority of the other colleges, despite their distance.

    And the design is just pretty.

    Good choice Yale.

  • AddItUp

    Either architecture is delightful or it isn't. Either it has historical association or it doesn't. Using traditional modes is not a failure. It is a valid and serious option. In the 1920s the JG Rogers architecture got the same "faux" criticism as these are getting… and now we think Branford is acceptable. There is nothing magic about innovation and the indistrial aestheitc as a marker of cultural progress, just as there is nothing magic about using tradition. Stern is innovating beautiofully within the tradition, and people will love it…except the die-hard Hegelians.

  • Anonymous

    Justin: Isn't Richard Meier a plagiarist from Mies and early Corbu? Everyone has their model from history. Let's be honest: it's about the industrial aesthetic or it isn't. And there is no reason to make a college look like factory or half-factory.

  • shallow pockets

    I dunno, Justin. They look extremely expensive to me.

    As for whether they are innovative: Ask the students at MIT whether they like their new dorm, Simmons Hall. Or whether they like the Gehry-designed Stata Center, which sparked a lawsuit.

  • Saybrook Alum '85

    Could someone please tell me why this location was chosen? Do students really want to walk by and around a graveyard every day? And what does this mean for science hill?

  • Branford Alum '83

    I understand the desire to play to Yale's heritage (and strength) with regards to the Oxford-gothic motif, but can't we jazz things up just a bit from our British cousins?
    Moreover, how do these buildings integrate with their surrounding area, particularly with regards to the plans for Science Hill?

  • Anonymous

    37: Can you suggest a better location? This location was identified several years ago in a planning report. At least the neighborhood will be quiet.

    37 & 38: The whole point is that if Yale needs to extend the undergraduate College geographically, it would be best to extend it towards Science Hill, which needs to be integrated better with the rest of campus.

    So I'm not sure what your concerns are.

  • Anonymous

    Um…did the artist forget to include the, soon to be complete, YUHS buidling?? In case you don't know it's just behind the cemetery.

  • Yalesnark+historian = success

    I think there should be some compromise between Historian and Yalesnark's points. It would be easy to maintain the traditional presentation (with additional details please - we do not want to end up with Princeton's Whitman) while inserting some modern aesthetics that wouldnt completely muddle the overall impression.

    For example, some eco-friendly additions could be made like a glass ceiling for the pictured dining-hall = both modern and maintains the traditional aesthetic of the building. Or one wing of the new colleges could be passionately modern as a nod to the fact that we have evolved since 1930's.

    Those who counter that modern architecture has not been implemented by any of the ivies as residential space are limiting themselves and Yale - we can lead on some things cant we?

    Furthermore, I agree that any contemporary architecture (whether integrated with the designs or added anew) should be of the conservative, useful type. So please stop making the jump that anything that is not traditional/faux Gothic will automatically be the new-age Morse and Styles!!!!!!!!!!

  • Look at the Map
  • Trumbull Alum '83

    To anonymous #39:
    My concerns are that the plans for these new colleges seem to be happening in isolation, with little regard to the surrounding area. Have you seen the plans for Science Hill? If so, perhaps you would care to share them with the rest of us? You were obviously not a science major at Yale, for if you had been, you would be wondering how these gothic inspired buildings will mesh with such "iconic" Yale structures as Kline Biology Tower (which drearily looms over the neighborhood). Have you even been up to that area lately? The courtyard around Kline is a disgrace. There is no Sterling Library on Science Hill.

  • Saybrook Alum '85

    It is interesting to see that Yale still suffers from a severe case of Morse-Stiles PTSD. But let's not use that institutional experience as an excuse to disregard any consideration of modern design.

  • anonymous 39

    To Trumbull Alum '83:

    No, I'm not a Yale employee, student, alum, or contractor, so I have not been up to Science Hill lately. And the only knowledge I have as to what Yale is planning for Science Hill is what I see on the web.

    And there's actually a fair amount. There's a planning framework from 2000, there's stuff on the Yale Tomorrow pages about the new colleges in the context of Science Hill, and the Study Group's report on the new colleges put a lot of thought into how the new colleges could help integrate Science Hill into the rest of the campus.

    Have you read these documents, which are publicly available? They make it clear that the new colleges have been planned with regard for context, including Science Hill. One can argue legitimately with the resulting approach (as some have above), but to say that the planning has been done "in isolation" is wildly inaccurate.

    You seem to have two concerns:

    1. You believe that Science Hill has been poorly planned and designed. Well, judging from the coverage of Kroon Hall, which has been portrayed as an improvement on a relatively blighted area, Yale seems conscious of this problem. But surely any design problems on Science Hill militate in favor of the new colleges being the best that they can be. Or is your real issue the allocation of resources? (Do you work on Science Hill?)

    2. You seem worried about architectural discontinuity: that bringing grand Gothic closer to Science Hill will only make Science Hill's architectural poverty more obvious. Well, if you remain traumatized today by a few undergraduate years on Science Hill, then you are Exhibit A for Historian's argument (and Stern's). So why would you want the new colleges to "mesh" with design approaches that you seem to abhor? If you like Sterling Library, what is wrong with putting similarly designed buildings closer to Science Hill?

    There are magnificent ways to reconcile modern architecture with traditional Gothic. The new music library is an example. The new SOM building offers some promise. And I would hope that future construction on Science Hill will make further progress.

    Certainly Kroon has elements of the cloister, the great hall, and the quadrangle -- Gothic elements that the new colleges will repeat.

  • anonymous 39

    Sorry to double post, but speaking of what is publicly available on the web . . . lo and behold, a site about planning for Science Hill.


    And it includes a description of a new Yale Biology Building to be designed by . . . Cesar Pelli. He will integrate modern and Gothic superbly.

  • Justin

    To Anonymous #35 and #36:
    I don't believe I suggested any particular type of architecture or any particular architect for the new colleges. My own view is that Kroon Hall, rather than say Pelli's engineering building, offers the ideal starting point for thinking about the architecture of the new colleges. I think all architects stand on the shoulders of giants and that Dean Stern has a strong sense of architectural history. That said, the proposed designs appear to be ersatz versions of older architecture rather than new architecture that was inspired by traditional styles or even by Yale's varied architectural history. The only thing new about the proposed colleges is the absence of the fine craftsmanship and eccentric details that give the old colleges their character (I can't say this for sure, but this seems a reasonable assumption based on Stern's earlier work).

    I would add that the failures of Morse and Stiles shouldn't be used as an excuse to abandon architectural innovation. Rather, the mistakes of the past ought to establish the principles by which the new colleges are built--practical spaces, student comfort, and aesthetic sensibility. Those principles are evident in Stern's design, but his design also represents the least creative, most unimaginative approach to the lessons of the past. That choice is, I think, highly unfortunate for an institution that prides itself on both artistic and intellectual leadership.

  • Y06

    Bravo! Except for the common room, which looks terribly boring. Love the inspiration from Bingham/Palmer-Schreiber Library in that tower.

    I do hope they'll throw in a few "easter eggs" in the architecture; you know, extraneous hidden rooms and such. It wouldn't be Yale otherwise.

  • alum

    That SHP website is really out of date now.

  • dportohsix

    eh, why not make another 'swing space' for the 14th college, and use the existing one as the 13th…? it was terrific fun to seemingly live in a courtyard marriott for a year of my life. and it fits right in with that ugly police station on canal.

  • JohnF

    Bravo to the new colleges! Although I share a lot of concerns about the detailing and stonework, I agree that the proportions are much better. I don't know why everyone is insisting that EVERY new building on campus be innovative and modern. We have plenty of projects right now that will grace Yale with several lovely new modern buildings. What's the problem with having a few historicist ones? Donors and alumni like them, (most) students seem to too. In general it seems to me that the AVERAGE person out there prefers historicizing architecture to modern. Why should architects get to override popular taste and opinion in designing architecture? I think the architectural community like many others is very much out of touch with what the average person wants to see in a building. On a side note though, is anyone concerned with the existing historic buildings in that area? I mean a couple of the houses are from the early 19th century and in pretty nice condition. Maybe Yale should consider moving them either to provide pleasant streetscapes opposite the new colleges or to fill gaps in the streetscape of New Haven. In either case, it seems a shame to demolish the nice houses which are there.

  • Trumbull Alum '83

    To Anonymous #39;
    Thank you for informing us of the vast amount of work which has been done with regards to the "Science Hill Plan". Unfortunately, when I visited the web site you mentioned in your second posting, I couldn't help but notice that the information posted therein is at least several years old. Perhaps there is a new plan? Or perhaps even an update? If so, could you please share it with the rest of us? Yes, I do like Sterling Library--but cutting and pasting Gothic inspired colleges to the Science Hill area does not solve the underlying problem. Please do yourself a favor and take an hour to walk through, in and around Science Hill and its buildings. Until you do, your views are nothing more than well intentioned opinions. Sorry, but one thing I learned during my time on Science Hill is the power of primary research. And Yale cannot and will not be a premier university in the 21st century without top tier science facilities. (And FYI, I do not work on Science Hill).

  • Calhoun '92

    I agree with the Trumbull '83 alum!

    I was also a science major at Yale and while I received an excellent education there with some terrific professors, the facilities were very sub-standard and not at all representative of Yale. Ever notice how the admissions office doesn't show Science Hill during the campus tours? I visited the Physics building last year after the H-Y game and it is still a DISGRACE! How can we expect to compete with the likes of Princeton, Stanford and MIT with such lousy science facilities?? Even my son was shocked at the broken down courtyard of Kline Biology Tower and the beaten up entryway at Kline Geology Labs. As concerned alums, we should demand to know much more about how these new residential colleges will impact and improve Science Hill (if at all). Frankly, right now, it's the proverbial "perfume on a pig".

  • Anonymous 39

    At least Trumbull '83 is now clear about the "underlying problem": a lack of "top-tier science facilities" on Science Hill.

    What this "underlying problem" means for the new colleges is unclear. Trumbull '83 (abetted by Calhoun '92) seems to want the new colleges to work some fairy-godmother transformation upon Science Hill as a whole.

    It's not clear how this might happen -- unless Trumbull's real plea is for Yale to abandon the new colleges altogether (or downsize that initiative) and to shift some of the resulting resources to science-facility renovation or construction.

    That's a legitimate position. But it ignores the possibility that Stern's designs for the new colleges might generate funding that modern plans for science labs would not generate. Most funding for new construction is raised special-purpose.

    Furthermore, nowhere in Trumbull's posts is there any acknowledgment that in the summer of 2007, Yale spent $109 million to acquire an entirely new campus for its science and medical programs. These 136 acres have been described as a "blank canvas" for Yale science and medicine. Trumbull, has your "primary research" included a visit to the West Campus?

    Perhaps that potentially epochal purchase has caused Yale to go back to the science-planning drawing board. Certainly more planning would be not only powerful, but also responsible. Planning takes time, especially in uncertain economic circumstances.

    And no, Trumbull: Like I said the first time, no matter how much you stamp your feet, I don't a plan up my own sleeve. Sorry.

    The West Campus is not Science Hill. But if the desire is for Yale to transform its science facilities in order to remain a "premier university," that transformation might be about to happen. Just not where Trumbull wants. (Perhaps he *lives* on Science Hill.)

  • henrycl

    Some people will be dead set against it here, but I think Yale is wasting a big opportunity here. Levin has been president for a long time now, and he's built a lot of buildings. None of them that has been built, as far as I can tell, will be considered memorable or historically important. In other words, Yale will have spent billions of dollars during a moment of considerable creativity in the history of architecture without showing much in the way of results. What a wasted opportunity!

    And guess what, everyone? This is another missed opportunity to educate. You put current Yalies in old-fashioned buildings, and they'll never learn to see what everybody else in the world with ambition is building these days. We'll keep replicating ourselves Yes, Yale will be a comfortable and comfortable place, but the reality is architecture, like everything else, is different. Yale, I thought, had moved passed the stage of being merely a preppy wasp camp (as it was for me in my day) and into the global 21st century. Everybody from Berlin to Beijing is building exciting new buildings, and we at Yale are building outdated crap that will probably not live up to the gems of the 30's that we already have. This is a real shame.

  • NotImpressed

    Looks like a copy + paste job to me. A little modernity and innovation wouldnt hurt.

  • Anonymous

    55, I guess it depends on what you think Yale is missing.

    Norman Foster? Yale is getting some.

    Peter Eisenman? No thank you!

  • BR'11

    As a current Yale undergraduate, I think these designs are gorgeous. And I was proud to see hints of Branford in them.

    To everyone complaining about the lack of innovation in the designs, I think it is important to realize that when pre-frosh visit campus they are blown away by the Gothic residences of Branford, Trumbull, Berkeley, etc. etc. I cannot emphasize enough how much pure JOY I get waking up every morning and looking out on my beautiful castle-like courtyard, climbing stone spiral-staircases to and from my room, and just pure aesthetic wonder my friends and I receive gazing at our college.

    These colleges may not be as 'sophisticated' as they could be, but they still serve a purpose. Provided they are done well, and not like Whitman at Princeton, these colleges have the potential to invoke awe in both pre-frosh and students alike. As an admittedly architecturally uneducated student, I am thrilled.

  • BR '73

    The need for refurbishing the Science Hill complex is a separate issue from the need for new residential colleges. I can believe the former is needed but don't stop the latter because of that need. Yale and the country needs Yale to grow its undergraduate population. Therefore new residential colleges are needed. The locations selected, as the study reports show, are the closest footprints available which are big enough…unless you're going to tear down the Hall of Graduate Studies completely and build a new HGS somewhere else. No one could seriously consider moving Grove Street Cemetery, despite the old joke that the engraved statement above the cemetery gate, "The Dead Shall Be Raised", should be completed with the phrase, "When Yale Needs the Land."

  • Pierson '97

    BR '73 brings up an interesting point.
    Why can't we move the Grove Street Cemetery? Has anyone even looked into this possibility? Coming back from late night hockey games, we used to talk about what Yale could do with that land. Cemeteries are moved much more often than one might think (one was recently relocated in my town to make way for a new elementary school). Moreover, its the 21st century and more people are being cremated (has anyone even been buried at Grove Street Cemetery in the last ten years?) Imagine that prime piece of real estate housing two new beautiful colleges! Yale has probably been too afraid to even broach this topic.

  • Trumbull '83

    To Anonymous #39:

    Unfortunately, if anyone believes in "fairy god-mothers" it is you when you state
    "the possibility that Stern's designs for the new colleges might generate funding that modern plans for science labs would not generate".
    That seems like very wishful thinking. All I (and others as judged by the comments on this site) are asking for is that the design of these colleges be considered in relation to their surrounding environment (which currently needs some major improvements).
    Otherwise, the whole thing could look very nice from inside the new college courtyards but as soon as one steps outside and onto the street, it could appear as some crude "cut and paste" job which happened to land amidst floundering science facilities.
    No, I have not been to the new West campus (I believe you are referring to the former Bayer buildings). Are you insinuating that somehow Science Hill (or many of its functions) will be transplanted there? If so, that is a major development and one which I have not heard from the administration.
    You seem to have some type of fixation with regards to where I domicile. To alleviate your angst, I can tell you that while I love the new New Haven, I don't live in Connecticut.

  • alum

    Pierson '97 -

    It is not worth broaching the topic of moving Grove Street Cemetery, and thank goodness nobody in the Yale administration lacks that much sense and sensitivity! Such a request would be almost indescribably inflammatory to town-gown relations and do far worse than fail.

    Further, the Grove Street Cemetery is a designated National Historic Landmark. It is also private (managed by Camco Cemetery Management), and members of the board that governs Grove Street Cemetery would rather have themselves placed in it immediately than consent to moving it. In fact, Grove Street was the world's FIRST private, nonprofit cemetery, and it was one of the earliest burial grounds to have a planned layout, with family owned plots, a structured arrangement of ornamental plantings, and paved and named streets.

    Its historical significance elevates far beyond a typical memorial park! It was organized in 1796, replacing the crowded burial ground on the New Haven Green, but is not yet full. Important Yale, New Haven and national luminaries are buried there, including fourteen Yale presidents. But it has always been open to all.

    In short: Don't even think about broaching the subject of moving Grove Street Cemetery. If you hear anyone starting to do it, gently but firmly put your hand on his or her mouth until they return to their senses.

    Now, opening another gateway in the cemetery walls so Yale students can walk to the new colleges through the gorgeous Grove Street grounds is quite another story. But Grove Street's board has shown no sympathy even to that modest and very constructive request, at least so far.

  • BR '04

    Pierson '97, have you ever been in Grove Street Cemetery? (I am going to try to respond to this comment rationally rather than simply in disbelief.)

    First, yes, it's an active graveyard, with new headstones and even a few empty plots.

    Second, it's as much a part of Yale and New Haven's history as any place on campus; I am sure that a college would be great at the site of SML, but no one in their right mind would actually suggest that (and if you don't think the attendant costs of moving GSC would be high, you're not factoring in the costs of legal battles, the razing of a plot somewhere else, and the exhumation cost of thousands of bodies). If you can't imagine moving a dictionary, you probably shouldn't imagine moving the body of Noah Webster.

    Third, the entire site is a landmark, and thus can't be altered substantially without significant planning permission, which Yale would never get.

    Fourth--and here I'm straying into the realm of disbelief--are you actually serious? Grove Street Cemetery is home to hundreds of Yale's most dedicated students, professors and administrators. And even if it were not, the callousness of suggesting that hundreds of years of history and thousands of graves be moved simply for convenience is pretty appalling.

    I doubt Yale is too afraid to broach this topic. Instead, I think they're too sensible and sensitive to suggest something so idiotic and tasteless.

  • John D.

    Moving the Grove Street Cemetery is really not a possibility. The cemetery is probably one of the most important historical sites in New Haven, and is an important national historical landmark. The landscaping of the cemetery and its current layout are all integral parts of what makes it a very important historical site and an important monument of cemetery planning. I think were stuck with it being there. Plus, some of the most important historical figures having to do with Yale and New Haven are buried there. The presence of the cemetery next to campus allows Yale students to get a view of the university and the city's history by looking through its monuments. What I really hope does not happen is that a new entrance is created on the other side. Cemeteries all over the country suffer from terrible vandalism, often at the hands of college students. Without someone to watch over the entrance as we have now, I think the delicate markers (esp. the 18th c ones) will suffer.

  • Recent Alum

    If Yale builds the two new colleges on the New Haven Green, then there would be no need to move the Grove Street Cemetery. What many skeptics don't seem to understand is that building the two new colleges wouldn't even affect most of the Green; there is enough space for two colleges in the north-east part of the Green and the south and middle parts (as well as all the eastern half) would not be need to be touched. The churches on the south could stay there as well. There is simply no reason to deprive hundreds of Yalies from the opportunity to live near everyone else when there is space available right next to Old Campus. Yale needs to buy land on the New Haven Green now.

  • @#65

    Great idea… except for the 5,000 to 10,000 people still buried underneath the Green. A lot of tombstones were moved to Grove Cemetery, but the bodies remain below the Green. But you know… minor details.

  • anonymous 39

    Trumbull, you're still not making any sense. That is why I have been assuming that you have a more personal stake in Science Hill than you are letting on.

    I would think that two new residential colleges would count as major improvements to their "surrounding environment." Can we agree on that point? Or would you prefer the status quo?

    Next, what exactly do you mean by asking that "the design of these colleges be considered in relation to their surrounding environment (which currently needs some major improvements)"?

    Do you want the new colleges to be less lavish because of where they are located? Do you want them to be poorly designed because they are in the midst of other poorly designed buildings? How will that improve the situation?

    I still don't understand how exactly you want the new colleges to be different from what Stern is proposing. Or why.

    You do seem to want more money spent on the Science Hill science facilities themselves. If so, why not say so, and more directly?

    Then that debate can be had -- informed by publicly available information about the West Campus. I agree that such information is limited, but at the moment, it includes such broad statements as this:

    "The West Campus will provide opportunities to enhance the University’s medical and scientific research and other academic programs."

    and this:

    "What are Yale’s future plans for the West Campus?
    "A site capacity study has been done and is being finalized for presentation to the Yale Corporation, which will formalize it. The plan will cover the next 25 to 50 years, and it includes incorporating the arts in addition to research and science at West Campus."

    and this:

    "In an interview, Donoghue said his vision for West Campus also has two main thrusts, one scientific and the other artistic. He plans not only to cultivate research in biology and chemistry, but also to create a “collections campus” to promote collaboration with Yale’s museums, libraries and the broader humanities community on the site."

    So it is increasingly clear that Yale will make major science investments in the West Campus. Whether that is a good idea, I leave to others to determine.

    As for "wishful thinking," only time will tell how quickly Yale can raise funds for the new colleges.

  • Recent Alum

    66, huh, then we would move the graves from the Green to the cemetery (which is, last time I checked, usually where bodies are buried)? Am I missing something?

  • @Recent Alum

    We're not just talking about thousands of bodies, but I think there's a whole crypt underneath the Green. There's a reason they were never moved in the first place. It's a moot point anyways. Hell will freeze over before the board of proprietors (including the president of Albertus Magnus College) sells the Green for Yale development.

  • Frank

    Try to enjoy the colleges and be lucky that Yale is building them. Stop complaining about the architecture--many colleges and universities would be happy to have the buildings that will be built during a time when few can afford new pieces of construction.

  • Former Scully TA

    The New Haven Green is a common space owned by all of New Haven. The history of the Green to the City is equally important and could be argued to be more important as a public civic space than GSC; which has always remained a private plot of land; albietr accessible through a single gate. Did anyone here stay awake during Scully's lecture on the Green and it's importance to the civic fabric of New Haven? Gawd, just leave it alone! Yale has studied the site location options and established the best locations for these new college sites. It's a done deal! Get over it!

  • Esther W.

    Ugh, this is disgusting! Those towers are obviously phallic symbols designed to indimidate women.

    And the traditional structure and 'courtyards' are heteronormative, euro-centric, and architecturally reactionary!

  • @72


  • Anonymous

    #71:"The New Haven Green is a common space owned by all of New Haven."

    This is incorrect. New Haven Green is privately owned.


  • Pierson '97 (on moving GSC)

    I give up. Go ahead, spend the $millions and build these gothic "cut and paste" blocks of stone in an area where they will look out of place. And while you're at it, give a lecture to the students on how they need to be respectful while walking through, in and around a cemetery every day on their way to class.
    Reading such puerile comments as "don't even think of moving the Grove Street Cemetery" from a fellow alum reminds me of the insular, parochial thinking that got Yale into financial trouble back in the 60's and 70's. Maybe now with the endowment down 25%, some new thinking will be required.

  • @ 75

    Why would neo-Gothic colleges look out of place near a cemetery?

    Have you ever been in an English country churchyard?

  • Ha!

    I loved #72's comment, although "indhimmidate" would have made the reference marginally less obscure.

    Also: while it is *possible* to move Grove St Cem, it is just not. going. to happen (and has been examined many times over the years). That said, I have often fantasized about, say, some sort of fanciful elevated platform or perhaps more standard "corridor" built through its middle (glassed in passageway?).

    The more likely course is to further develop the property *surrounding* the cemetery to diminish the supposed "isolation" of the new colleges. Really, it is *not* that far out the back end and over to PWG. Heck, clean up the whole Lake Place area a bit and suddenly those colleges will be right down town!

  • Pierson '97

    The preceding commentary makes sense. If it is verboten to even consider moving the cemetery, then perhaps some sort of walkway could be created down its middle? Or perhaps it is time to clean up the whole Lake Place area? Someone needs to look at this project with a creative and discerning eye (not one focused on just the two new colleges).

  • alum

    Pierson '97 wrote:

    "Reading such puerile comments as 'don't even think of moving the Grove Street Cemetery' from a fellow alum reminds me of the insular, parochial thinking that got Yale into financial trouble back in the 60's and 70's. Maybe now with the endowment down 25%, some new thinking will be required."

    Ah, well actually the pseudo-quoted phrase "don't even think of moving the Grove Street Cemetery" does not appear anywhere in these comments, so I guess you mean: "Don't even think about broaching the subject of moving Grove Street Cemetery."

    Regardless, I was wondering if it affects your thinking at all that an expressed desire by Yale to move the Cemetery (which Yale most certainly does not have) would be perceived almost universally throughout New Haven, and for that matter throughout the Yale community, as (how to say this as delicately as possible without losing the meaning) grotesque, selfish, insentitive, stupid, counterproductive, inflammatory, pointless, incompetent, savage, destructive, mindless, dangerous, terrifying, illegal, contemptuous, disrespectful, ahistorical, foolish and utterly unbecoming of and inconsistent with many of the most basic principles upheld by Yale, in addition to undermining every effort made by Yale to cultivate and reassure New Haven for the last 20 years (at least)?

    Just asking.


  • agree w 77

    77 is right on target. The "supposed isolation" of the new colleges is utterly laughable. They will be ONE lengthy block away from Beinecke, Woolsey, Silliman, etc. The closest portion of the new colleges will be as far away from the rest of campus as the furthest portion of TD. What is the problem?

    Compare Harvard's three undergraduate houses at the Radcliffe Quad. Now that's isolation!

    Some people seem to be demanding that Yale plan, design, and build, all at once, everything it might build in the next 50 years. Give the university time. An organic campus grows by increments.

    When Yale truly surrounds the GSC, everyone will (i) wonder what all this fuss was about, and (ii) be thankful for a bit of open space in the middle of a built-up campus.

  • divstudent

    If you want to see the lack of dimensionality in Stern's work, take a walk further up Prospect to see the comical addition to Betts House (next to Divinity).

  • Pierson '97

    To Alum #79:
    Wow, you really got me thinking. Perhaps it was your one sentence paragraph? Or your extensive vocabulary("ahistorical" really did it for me)! I tip my hat to your skill and erudition.

  • Calhoun '84

    Do whatever you want with these new colleges (and trust me, Yale will) but for God's sake someone needs to bring back Park Street Sub! That place rocked----the best cheesesteaks anywhere, open all night and a great place to relax after partying with friends and a good smoke! God, I miss that place. The guy behind the counter with the mullet was hilarious (and the Carmen Specials were out of this world)….

  • Saybrook '85

    Calhoun '84 you are spot-on! "Park Street Sub" was indeed an institution. They had the best cheesesteaks anywhere (and I am from Philly). It was a great stop after Rudys. Remember the heavy metal they used to crank out at 3am? Or the smell of the sandwiches baking in the oven? I think the mullet guy was high most of the time, but he was funny, friendly and knew how to take care of his customers.

  • alum

    Well, well Pierson '97, no need to get so sour and personal!

    In just the few sentences you deposited above you misquoted a comment appearing just a few inches above your own, affected an obviously false and postured knowledge of Yale thinking in the 60's and '70's, advocated actions that would far worse than merely fail, advanced a bizarre connection between the decline in the Yale endowment and the university’s failure to broach the uprooting of the hoards of Grove Street dead, and left a rather amazing amount of additional electronic detritus for so few words. So it really isn't surprising that you didn't answer the single question in the single sentence paragraph that holds your attention. But the style and sourness? No class.

    Ciao bella!

  • The Contrarian

    Given the current economic climate, Yale should demolish Memorial Quad -- so fake, hideous Harkness Tower (just read some of the contemporary critiques by the Hipsters of the day). Since Old Brick Row was destroyed, why not this? A multi-use project designed by Renzo or Gehry or Koolhaas or another of the Darlings of the Day -- shoe warehouse or Battleship Potemkin, depending on your "taste." Condos with views of the Sound atop a beehive of student housing with some overpriced trendy but "green" shops and perhaps a madrassa & Wahabi mosque for extra-multicult credit.

  • confused

    The college almost always comes up with beautiful architectural designs while the School of Management always settles for cheap-looking, all-glass-designs. No wonder the Yale Corporation postponed SOM's new campus completion by three more years, to 2013. Wouldn't be surprised if the SOM plan is cancelled by the Corporation. Why does SOM distance itself so much from the rest of the university? Why does the university continue to pump money into SOM which is ranked #24 by Business Week magazine?