Dwight Hall’s planned move from its eponymous Old Campus home to 143 Elm St., first announced in November 2006, has been postponed indefinitely.
The 143 Elm St. building, which was constructed in 1831 and formerly housed the Yale University Press and the Music department, was scheduled to undergo a $9 million renovation starting in April to make the structure inhabitable, Dwight Hall Executive Director Alex Knopp said. According to the Dwight Hall Web site, officials expected the nation’s largest student-run public service organization move into the refurbished building by fall 2010. But because the recession has put the new residential colleges and other campus construction projects on hold, the University delayed the renovations, leaving Dwight Hall officials stuck in limbo.
“[University] President [Richard] Levin made a rational economic decision to postpone projects that could be delayed until the economy recovers,” Knopp said. “Dwight Hall is in the same boat with Yale’s other [construction] projects, and has been treated fairly and kept informed at all stages of the decision-making process.”
Knopp said the architectural plans for the Elm Street building have been drawn up and are ready for bids from construction companies — as soon as the economy starts to recover. Meanwhile, as Dwight Hall remains in its current Old Campus building, the Chaplain’s Office, which is slated to take its place, must stay in its current Bingham Hall space, Deputy Provost Lloyd Suttle said.
Dwight Hall Co-coordinator of Executive Communications Bradford Williams ’10 said Dwight Hall’s current location on Old Campus, which was a library and then a chapel, was not built to house the organization. The new Elm Street building, though, will be “much better suited” for Dwight Hall because the building will have conference rooms and facilities where students can study, Williams said.
Yet Dwight Hall is not the only organization affected by the hold-up with the 143 Elm St. renovations.
The Chaplain’s Office has been housed in the basement of Bingham Hall for the past 15 years. But when Dwight Hall relocates to Elm Street, the Chaplain’s Office is set to move into Dwight Chapel, administrators said. Senior Associate Chaplain for Protestant Life Ian Oliver said Thursday that Chaplain’s Office officials are trying to make the current space as welcoming as possible until they receive more information about the move.
“We’re trying to get the word out that we’re here because we’re not always the most visible,” he said. “We already use the chapel a lot, and we have some responsibility for it administratively — it’ll be a great move for us.”
Oliver said University Chaplain Sharon Kugler’s involvement on the Dwight Hall Board of Directors is crucial because it keeps Chaplain’s Office officials abreast of the construction process. Because of the lull in building, Oliver said, the fate of other organizations, such as the Muslim Students Association, which is based in the Bingham basement, is unclear. Tariq Mahmoud ’11, the president for MSA, did not immediately return a phone call Thursday night.
For now, Dwight Hall officials have been planning a new publicity strategy to ensure that the organization remains visible despite leaving central campus when renovations start, Williams said.
“With the delay in construction, there will now be more time to ensure that the move is as successful as possible,” Knopp said.
Correction: Nov. 9, 2009
An earlier version of this article misidentified the name of the Muslim Students Association.