Architecture students design Green

Twelve graduate students at the School of Architecture hope to use New Haven’s International Festival of Arts and Ideas as a platform for their design.
Twelve graduate students at the School of Architecture hope to use New Haven’s International Festival of Arts and Ideas as a platform for their design. Photo by Urvi Nopany.

Post professional students in Yale’s School of Architecture rarely get to see their designs come to fruition. But next semester, a handful will be able to bring their drawings to life on the New Haven Green.

This spring, students enlisted in the School’s post-masters program will be tasked with the hands-on experience of designing a 300 square-foot pavilion for New Haven’s International Festival of Arts and Ideas. The course was developed as a joint effort between four students in the Master of Architecture II degree program, along with the help of faculty advisor Brennan Buck. The class is a three-month endeavor that will take the 12 enrolled students through the process of dreaming up an enclosure for the festival and building it out.

“It started when we realized that the M.Arch program for post-professional architects had no hands-on design project,” said Jacqueline Ho ARC ’12, who is one of the four founders of the initiative, along with Zachary Heaps ARC ’12, David Bench ARC ’12 and Eric Zahn ARC ’12.

“About half the course will be designing the pavilion and half will be production and planning, which will all be done in the fabrication lab with the robotic equipment we have there,” Buck said, adding that students will use materials such as wood and stone for the structure.

The students said they view it as an exciting new way of testing all the avant-garde equipment available at the School of Architecture on the field to peer into the future of architecture. The students sought out the festival and amassed more than $12,000 in funding for the project this summer after a year of planning the course with School of Architecture administrators. While the main sponsor for the program is Assa Abloy, the team has also received funding from various other donors including Saybrook College.

“While it’s not a very normal process for architects to seek out a client, in this case it seems like the need was there all along,” Bench said.

The festival will rent a roof-stage system as they did last year after the old permanent stage was removed two years ago. However instead of the “nondescript” tent they had for the information booth last year, the festival hopes to improve its image this year with a more eye-catching yet functional enclosure, said Mary Lou Aleskie, executive director of the festival.

“We’re hoping that this year’s booth becomes a defining palette representing our image,” Aleskie said. “We’ve talked about the project stretching over time and we’re very interested in trying to create a consistency in our physical appearance,” Aleskie added.

The festival celebrated its 15th anniversary this summer.

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