Worth its weight in ‘Gold’?

Sarah Coe, a visual resources support specialist at the Haas Family Arts Library, often bikes to work. But she was surprised to find a bike storage room and a shower and changing room sitting unused in the building’s basement.

“I was a little amazed,” she said, because she wanted to store her bicycle inside but never knew such a place existed.

Rudolph Hall’s LEED Gold rating recognizes features such as bike racks and showers. But the shower is unusable.
Christopher Peak
Rudolph Hall’s LEED Gold rating recognizes features such as bike racks and showers. But the shower is unusable.
No caption.
No caption.

Both the renovation of Yale’s Art & Architecture building and the construction of the Sculpture Building on Edgewood Avenue included plans for such bicycle storage and showers to encourage commuters to walk and bike. More than a year after Rudolph Hall reopened and more than two years after the Sculpture Building debuted, the showers in both buildings are permanently locked, and the bike storage room in Rudolph Hall only opened Tuesday, after officials were asked about it by a News reporter.

When applying for LEED certification — a seal of sustainability with certified, bronze, silver, gold or platinum rankings administered by the U.S. Green Building Council — the designers of the Rudolph Hall/Loria Center project mentioned the shower and bicycle storage facilities, helping them to achieve a LEED gold ranking. The Sculpture Building’s application included the shower and an outdoor bicycle rack, and the USGBC awarded the building LEED platinum status. In Rudolph, administrators attributed the delay in making the storage and shower rooms usable to the long moving-in process, but Sal Schaivone, director of facilities for the School of Art, said the Sculpture Building’s shower is intentionally kept locked.

“If they had access to it, people would be living in the building,” he said. Not even sculpture building security guards have access.

Rudolph’s shower is also unusable, Associate Dean of the School of Architecture John Jacobson said, because the door has been jammed shut since the building was reoccupied following the renovations in 2008. Jacobson opened the door recently, he said, but he will still not open the shower because the door cannot be locked from the inside to ensure privacy.

“We just had so much to do with getting into the building,” he said, “it just got forgotten.”

He said the school is now working on a solution to make the shower usable.

Meanwhile, bike racks have recently been installed inside the Loria Center, Jacobson said, so commuters can protect their bikes from theft or weather. The room was previously used for storage.

In the Sculpture Building, nobody has asked for access to the shower, said Kris Mandlebaum, a painting, printmaking and sculpture senior administrative assistant.

But Holly Parker, director of Sustainable Transportation Systems said the room should still be made available.

“We’d love to see people who bike or walk to work have access to showers on campus,” she said. “It’s asking a lot of your would-be bicycle commuters and long-distance walkers to not give them a place to clean up.”

Especially for those commuting longer distances in the heat, showers are essential, she said.

Though they might not be demanding shower access, people still bike to and from the sculpture building. Despite the bike rack outside, many leave their bikes scattered around the lobby.

Coe said that until the indoor bike rack opened Tuesday, she rode her worst bike to work, knowing she could only store it outside. She said she requested that the storage room be opened in December, and believes her requests were heard, based on Tuesday’s opening.

Jacobson declined to comment on whether the racks were installed and the room opened in response to individual requests.


  • ’10

    Showers on campus for bikers (especially in warmer weather months) would be a great thing to have.

    ……but I agree with the assessment: manic architecture students would DEFINITELY be living in the building 24/7 if they had showers available. Of course, that would only be about 4 hours more per week than they are already there….

  • Q

    This is just another attempt at “greenwashing” – having green features simply to show that you are sustainable, but really just having it in name only.

    Having showers in a building is not a simple as setting them up. They obviously need to be cleaned, and there needs to be some form of access control, like a key so that they are used by their intended audience.

    It looks pretty clear that Yale never seriously thought these issues through, or didn’t bother including the people who actually manage the buildings into these plans.

  • Anon.

    Kind of pathetic. Is anyone with a working brain in charge?

  • Brian Tang

    Awesome reporting, Sam!

    This is a shining example of how journalism can tangibly improve our lives. I’m going to email this to an architecture grad student I know who bikes to Rudolph Hall ASAP!

  • alum

    Great article. Yale should be ashamed! Greenwashed indeed.