Yale’s decision to construct a 400-car parking garage on a parking lot at 200 Prospect St. has some residents of the neighborhood up in arms.
As Yale continues its construction plans — and begins to plan and undertake a substantial period of physical development of the campus — such conflicts with the neighborhood almost seem inevitable. However, the University can reduce tension surrounding its necessary construction through smart planning and attempts to integrate its buildings with the neighborhoods in which it builds.
Yale has planned substantial building projects to develop Science Hill, including the construction of new chemistry and engineering buildings. But New Haven has required the University to create more parking spots in order to proceed with these plans, and this garage was planned with this request in mind. However, residents living near the site of the garage have expressed worry about the noise, pollution, and bright lights a parking lot in their backyards might bring. Houses along the street have a nice view of the city, and a three-story parking garage might obstruct it. It certainly won’t make the street more scenic.
But the University is trying. It plans to install grids to block car lights from leaking out into the residential area, trees to block the adjacent houses from the structure, and colored concrete to make the garage walls less obtrusive.
Despite the neighborhood concerns, Yale’s construction of the garage seems a given, and we only hope it proceeds with as much respect for the local community as possible. Past history has shown that Yale can be mindful of the character of the communities in which it builds; designing the first floor of the British Art Center retail, for example, was a wise decision given the Chapel Street neighborhood.
We want Yale to maintain good relations with its neighbors, and we are pleased to note that the University did take actions with this intent in mind, including holding a town hall meeting about the new parking garage. We are pleased with Yale’s attempts to make the structure as inconspicuous as possible.
For future building projects, of which it seems the University has many, it is essential to keep in mind the obvious importance of location. The newly constructed Political Science building at 8 Prospect Pl., for example, looks like a space age trailer, and certainly doesn’t fit in with the surrounding area. The landscape of Yale is interesting, and Yale buildings should fit in with it. Projects at the fringes of campus should be architecturally integrated with — or at least not radically different from — the style of the neighborhood. Whether in the heart of campus or at the edge of it, a new building should not fundamentally disturb the landscape in which it is installed.