Residents find fault with SOM redesign

Though the revised design of the new School of Management campus was meant to appease the complaints of nearby residents, some neighbors say they remain dissatisfied.

University Associate Vice President for New Haven and State Affairs Michael Morand ’87 DIV ’93 said Thursday that Yale officials have met with residents more than 20 times since 2006 and have addressed the concerns raised in recent weeks by neighbors and city officials. But after Morand and other Yale officials presented the University’s latest concessions Thursday, which include additional walking space and landscaping, Ward 9 Alderman Roland Lemar told the News that “there is still room for improvement.”

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Lemar called Thursday’s meeting a “constructive dialogue” but added that there were still several details to be altered before the SOM plans can receive final zoning approval before the aldermanic legislative committee, which he chairs. And the local resident who hosted the closed-door meeting in his Bradley Street house, Joe Tagliarini ’83, said he still believes the University’s newest proposal, while a nice gesture, does not make the building’s footprint small enough.

“I’m pro-development,” he said. “But I just think the elements needed for neighborhood integration could be made more of a priority in the current design plans.”

Tagliarini said he and several other residents will go to the aldermanic public hearing next Thursday to urge more changes. He said he hopes Yale will remove the new SOM’s interior courtyard in order to expand the space between the building and its surroundings.

But Morand countered that some key aspects of the construction need to remain the same, including the green space between the new building and Lincoln Street, parking and loading space fenced off from neighbors, and some sustainability features that will help the building to achieve LEED-Gold certification.

Morand said Yale asked Foster + Partners, the firm that created the original design, a few weeks ago to modify current plans to address neighbors’ concerns. Under the new design, the yard on the building’s northern side will increase to 34 feet wide from 18 feet and will serve as a pathway for cyclists and pedestrians. On the southern side, which faces Bradley Street, the yard will be expanded from 38 feet to 63 feet.

Lemar said Yale officials will have to present their revised zoning application to City Hall for approval. He said he expects the discussion to overflow into a second public hearing.

University President Richard Levin said Wednesday that he is confident that construction on the SOM campus will begin this summer. To begin the process, Yale officials plan to raze the existing buildings 155 and 175 Whitney Ave. Preservation groups such as the New Haven Preservation Trust and the Urban Design League, who were not invited to Thursday’s meeting, argue that the demolition of the buildings should not occur because it would radically alter the look of the neighborhood.

Levin said SOM still lacks the full funding required for construction. Although Yale netted a $8,888,888 donation from SOM alumnus Lei Zhang GRD ’02 SOM ’02 for the building, Edward Mattison LAW ’68, who chairs one of the city committees that need to approve the design, said city officials worry Yale has not yet raised enough money to start construction — a concern he expects to pervade the discussion at next week’s public hearing.


  • Greening

    I’d move all new construction up next to the Divinity School since the central campus wil become New Haven harbor when global warming elevates the Atlantic in about 50 years, leaving Harkness tower as the harbor lighhouse (unless Amsterdam-like dykes are built to close off the Atlantic).

    The Anti-Yale

  • Tanner

    I hope the architect has some Howard Roark in him. When the neighborhood stomps their feet until they get a building that does not fit the SOM’s needs or the citys we will end up with another NH Colliseum or worse all those New Haven schools built in the 60’s that needed to be redesigned because they had niether form nor function.

  • Anon.

    NIMBY NIMBY. Does someone want to point out to these people who complain about the SOM design what a dump the area currently is. Even with a new building from one of the world’s leading architects, it won’t get rid of the ugly Lawn Club parking lot or the low grade industrial building next to SOM. This is nothing more than architectural conservatism pushed way, way too far.

  • Abutter

    There are many more neighbors who want this project to move forward than oppose it. The one who is quoted makes a lot of noise, but he is virtually alone, unless you count people from the far side of Orange Street as “nearby residents.”

  • Yale 08

    I’d let SOM take over the Div School campus. Get some use out of that dusty cluster.

  • Other Yale 08

    @Yale 08 — well said

    But seriously, while most of the new SOM campus looks fine, the front side (facing Whitney Avenue) looks like the rear of a star destroyer from Star Wars and has all the aesthetics of one.

  • dk

    Why not send SOM to West Campus? There’s no need for them to be anywhere near Bass and SML libraries, separating central campus and science hill.

  • Tanner

    I think moving the SOM to west campus would be a great idea the further away from the socialists and future trial-lawyers would be great for recruitment.
    East Rock has become the poster child for New Havens NIMBY snobs.