Evans Hall elicits both praise and distaste

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Photo by Alex Schmeling.

After two weeks of settling into their brand-new home, the School of Management faculty members and students are opening the glass doors of their 165 Whitney Ave. building today to the entire Yale community for an open house.

The new SOM campus, Evans Hall, was inaugurated in an opening conference in early January. The inauguration festivities will continue with the open house, in which students from Yale College and the University’s other graduate and professional schools will be able to take guided tours and explore the building. But life at Evans Hall has already been in full swing — classes have begun, all faculty members have moved into their new offices, and the cafeteria and ground-flour atrium swarm with people each day.

The SOM Dean Edward Snyder said that life at the new building, which was in construction from April 2011 to last month, will be much more enjoyable.

“I think that the adjustment time is going to be short,” Synder said. “I think that the students will spend more time at school, I think they will appreciate the incredible lines of sight. They will see more of each other and more of the faculty and staff.”

Students and faculty interviewed gave positive reviews of their first couple of weeks at Evans Hall — with few small reservations.

Jessica Gage SOM ’14 said there was a period of transition in which students were relieved to no longer be crammed into their old building, but also slightly disoriented in their new one.

“We used to have to fight for breakout rooms … and now we have even more space than we know how to fill,” Gage said. “There was an obvious period of adjustment.”

The building’s spacious layout can also be puzzling to navigate, according to the SOM Professor Jason Abaluck. But Abaluck said the extra space also makes him particularly enthusiastic about the building, as it allows for greater equality in office allocation. As a junior professor, Abaluck held a small office situated away from many others — but now, he said, all the offices are “more standardized” and on the same floor.

There are also a few “mysteries” about the building, he said, joking that the elevator might be intentionally slow in order to encourage people to take the stairs.

The SOM Professor Ravi Dhar said most faculty members were pleasantly surprised by their new facilities. Some professors worried that they would miss the mansions on Hillhouse Avenue, he said, but they did not realize how much they would appreciate having better and bigger offices.

Anthony Lynn SOM ’14 said the building has exceeded expectations, and deserves the attention of the Yale community.

“I believe that the rest of the Yale community is intrigued by the building — and I hope that it has increased curiosity in the SOM,” Lynn said.

All Yale College students and faculty interviewed said that they were indeed curious about the building, but few had plans to attend the open house.

History Professor Jay Gitlin said that though Evans Hall is an “impressive building” that makes an effort to integrate with the Yale community with its “brilliant blue tones,” its great size and posture make its future role ambiguous.

“It’s a building that makes a statement, but I’m not sure what it’s saying. I think it might be: ‘This is a great place for parties,’” he said.

Nine out of 10 students said that they are impressed by the appearance of Evans Hall.

Marion Hirshberg ’16 said she passed by the building and thought it looked “really cool,” but would not visit it intentionally.

Clare Brody ’14 said that she might visit the building with friends in the near future because the SOM has several classes and event opportunities that involve undergraduates.

Still, Brody said she does not like the way the building looks.

“I think it’s ugly,” she said. “It’s like McCormick Place meets the White House.”

Today’s open house will be held from 3-5 p.m.

Correction: Jan. 24

 A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the address of Evans Hall as 162 Whitney Ave., rather than 165 Whitney Ave.  

 

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