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.”
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.