University officials announced yesterday they have selected world-famous architect and former Architecture School Dean Cesar Pelli to design Yale’s new 50,000-square-foot engineering building, which will be constructed on the corner of Prospect and Trumbull streets next to the Watson computer science building.
Pelli’s firm has not drafted any definite plans for the new facility, however, and administrators are not yet certain who will receive space in the building once it is constructed, said Pierre Hohenberg, deputy provost for science and technology.
The building will house unspecified “portions” of Yale’s programs in biomedical, chemical and mechanical engineering, according to a press release.
Engineering faculty were excited to hear of Pelli’s selection, though many were hearing the news for the first time when the Yale Daily News contacted them last night.
“I had heard that an architect had been chosen, but [Cesar Pelli’s] name was not one that I had heard before with reference to this project,” said Mechanical Engineering Department chair Marshall Long. “I think this is in the realm of good news, but I’m afraid this is as much news to me as it is to the general public.”
Robert Narracci, an associate with Pelli’s firm in New Haven, said he had not heard the news either.
“It hasn’t hit the street here yet, but that’s great news,” he said. “Netting a project is always good news, and to do it in our home town — that’s even better.”
The construction of the new facility will be financed in large part through a $24 million donation from John Malone ’63.
Pelli, who personally directs each of his firm’s projects, designed the Museum of Modern Art expansion and renovation and the World Financial Center in New York City, the NTT Headquarters Building in Tokyo and the Petronas Towers structure in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which at 1,483 feet is the world’s tallest building.
A representative at Pelli’s firm said the architect could not be reached for comment.
Hohenberg said Yale chose Pelli primarily because of his reputation.
“You don’t have a design when you choose an architect. You choose an architect to come up with a design,” he said. “We don’t have a design yet. Because he is an incredible architect, we are confident Pelli will come up with a suitable design.”
While the administration ultimately placed its faith in Pelli’s reputation, engineering faculty were consulted during the selection process through their involvement in two committees, both chaired by applied science professor Victor Henrich, Hohenberg said.
One committee deals with overall space planning for Yale’s engineering programs, and the other was formed specifically to address the construction and design of the new Prospect Street facility, Hohenberg said.
The project has been shrouded in uncertainty since it was first unveiled in November 1999.
Administrators said they are certain the new building will be constructed next to Arthur Watson Hall in the space currently occupied by a parking lot, Hohenberg said, but other aspects of the project are still up in the air.
When Yale first announced it was going to construct the facility in November 1999, officials said the building would span the bicycle path that runs next to the lot in an old canal bed, but Hohenberg said yesterday the building would not.