New colleges clear final hurdle

Photo by Victor Kang.

Yale’s 13th and 14th residential colleges cleared the final legal hurdle for construction Wednesday.

The City Plan Commission approved the site plan for Yale’s two proposed additional residential colleges Wednesday night, with the estimated $600 million project set to begin this summer. Although plans were delayed following the 2008 economic downturn, the colleges are scheduled to be completed before the fall term of 2015.

“The two new colleges will take a site long-owned by Yale and transform it into a much higher and better use,” University spokesman Michael Morand ’87 DIV ’93, wrote in an email to the News Thursday evening. “The primary benefit will be to allow hundreds more students to enjoy the benefits of a Yale education.”

The two new colleges will house more than 800 additional undergraduates, according to current plans, and will be designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, LLP, which is owned by School of Architecture Dean Robert Stern. But plans for an undergraduate theater and certain street improvements were pushed to a later date.

According to Yale’s Vice President of Development, Inge Reichenbach, the original goal for project fundraising was set at $250 million for construction, and was subsequently increased to $500 million following the financial crisis. The project has raised about $187 million to date, Reichenbach said, adding that developers are contacting alumni and other potential donors who have an interest in funding the colleges.

“President Levin has successfully secured substantial financial support for the two new colleges and the university is working to build on that momentum going forward,” Morand wrote. “There is a lot of work to do to secure the remaining funding and we all are optimistic that alumni and friends of Yale will continue to respond to this important project.”

City Hall spokesman Adam Joseph said that the new residential colleges are an example of productive partnership between Yale and New Haven.

“We’ve been supportive of the University growing because it grows jobs in the city,” Joseph said. “If you want to attract good high-paying jobs, you grow job generators.”

Ward 10 Alderman Justin Elicker FES ’10 SOM ’10, who is the Board of Aldermen’s representative on the City Plan Commission, agreed. He added that in addition to construction jobs, the college expansion would bring more positions such as teachers, dining hall workers and custodial staff. Given that the current site is “not the most attractive [place] in the world,” he added — referring to the underdeveloped blocks which will become the new buildings — the residential colleges will also serve to “clean up” the area.

In September 2006, the University entered into a development agreement with the city in which the University received rights to develop the area of the colleges’ proposed site in exchange for a contribution of $10 million towards improving roadway infrastructure in the adjacent area, completing another portion of the Farmington Canal greenway and expanding Scantlebury Park in the Dixwell neighborhood.

Earlier this year, the Board of Aldermen unanimously voted to approve a Planned Development District around the site, which will allow the University to build the colleges, Elicker said, while Wednesday’s vote, also unanimous, was over the “nitty gritty” of the plans. Now that the site plan review is complete, Elicker said all major city hurdles to construction are over.

“Following this detailed plan approval by the city, the University now will work with its architects to complete the construction plans and specifications for the two new colleges, all of which is the normal course for any project,” Morand wrote. “This project is quite large, so there remains a good piece of work to complete the plans and specifications.”

The two new colleges will be located north of Grove Street Cemetery in the triangle comprised of Prospect, Canal and Sachem streets.


  • cyalie


  • ldffly

    A dark day indeed. If you believe that the additional enrollment will be limited to 800 undergrads and that the university will hire sufficient faculty, I’d like to talk to you about buying the Empire State Building. This whole thing is foolish beyond belief.

  • artsnculture

    What a missed opportunity with these backward-looking buildings. Yale could easily have had something like these, which would have kept her on the map in terms of the arts and architectural thinking.

    Regarding the greater size of the student body, Yale absolutely needs to go in that direction so that her small departments can add a few faculty members and thereby enhance their competitiveness. A department of, say, 8 professors will almost always have trouble in the rankings against the same department of, say, 15 professors at a university of similar calibre. Moreoever, it will give the university a greater pool of alums and international students from whom to garner funds for the endowment.

    • uncommons

      last time we tried to stay on the map “in terms of the arts and architectural thinking” we made 1/6 of prefrosh miserable when they got their college assignments. i don’t care if these new ones are “backward-looking” to an architecture or arts major; i care if these buildings make undergrads happy.

      please don’t make me try to live in your “art”

      • artsnculture

        Actually, I was assigned to Morse as a freshman and transferred as a sophomore to Stiles. I was VERY HAPPY to have had that intimate experience with both of those colleges, from the commodious singles to the stunning tower views, the lovely semicircular necklace of blooming trees in the Spring coming from Payne Whitney, to the elegant Masters’ houses, etc.

        When Ravel and Picasso first came out with their art, people couldn’t stand them. Now they are background music for films and on hundreds of thousands of walls. I think part of an “education” is stretching one’s possibly very limited and reactionary tastes in the arts.

  • taghkanic

    I don’t mind, so long as they aren’t named Lieberman College and Bush College.

  • cyalie

    Everything is way too overcrowded as it is. Ever tried getting into seminars? Eating in Commons at noon? Getting a study spot in Bass during finals?

  • The Anti-Yale

    Maybe the construction company would agree to hire one unemployed New Havener for every two persons it employs. Good will, if you will.

  • ldffly

    cyalie, it wasn’t much different in the 70s. I am afraid it will only get worse after these new colleges are opened. As I said, don’t trust the administration on these matters.

  • The Anti-Yale

    “in the triangle comprised of Prospect, Canal and Sachem streets”

    Contiguous with da ghetto.