Rededication ceremony caps Stiles renovations

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Photo by Joyce Xi.

More than two months after a renovated Ezra Stiles opened its doors to students, University President Richard Levin officially rededicated the college.

With the snip of a blue ribbon, the final stage in Yale’s residential college renovations was formally completed Thursday afternoon in the Stiles dining hall. The ceremony capped a 13-year renovation project that, after adjusting for inflation, spent about $500 million to overhaul facilities at all 12 colleges, finishing with Stiles this summer. Though that round of renovations has concluded, Levin said $200 million — which amounts to roughly 2.5 percent of the total value of the colleges — has been set aside for future restorations.

In his dedication speech, Levin stressed the importance of a residential college system that provides students both resources and a smaller community on campus.

“A dormitory is designed to provide food and shelter,” Levin said. “A college provides for the intellectual, social and emotional well-being of its residents.”

Stiles and Morse College first opened in 1962 to meet the housing demands of a growing undergraduate population. As the residential colleges gradually fell into disrepair, Levin said the comprehensive renovations marked a “recommitment” to Yale’s belief in the value of the residential college system.

Stuart Schwartz, who served as master of Stiles between 2002 and 2008 and helped plan the college’s renovation alongside architect Stephen Kieran ’73 of the Philadelphia-based firm KieranTimberlake, said work on Morse and Stiles was intended to preserve the original designs of architect Eero Saarinen ARC ’34.

“You have to do both at the same time: maintaining its distinctive character but also bringing it into the 21st century,” Schwartz said.

Stiles Master Steven Pitti ’91 said the revamped Stiles is significantly improved, adding that he thought Saarinen would be “delighted” with the finished project.

Alicia Camacho, the college’s associate master, said the renovations focused primarily on creating additional social space for students. Like most other Yale residences, Stiles now mainly offers suites instead of the standalone singles that used to predominate in the college.

Four Stiles students interviewed said they have been pleased with the new facilities and enjoy having a central community location after being spread throughout Swing Space the year before.

Samson Berhane ’14 said that on his first day of orientation, he sat in a circle with other Stiles freshmen. When his freshman counselor asked how many of the freshmen had been disappointed to wind up in Stiles, Berhane said all the students raised their hands.

Since the renovated college opened this fall, Berhane said shared common spaces and brand-new facilities have helped to bring the community closer. The renovations of Morse and Stiles added a theater, recording studio, digital media room, art room and exercise room to the colleges.

“Living here now is awesome,” Berhane said. “This is the ideal residential college.”

Faye Maison ’11, who was a Stiles freshman counselor last year, said she has noticed a newfound interest in Stiles from students not in the college.

Melissa Johnson ’12 also said she thinks the renovations have improved perceptions of Stiles on campus.

“I was excited when I overheard a freshman say, ‘Oh my god, you got into Stiles? I’m so jealous!’” Johnson said.

Yale is currently raising funds for two new residential colleges.

Comments

  • bashaB

    That was cool.