Consensus is growing at the Yale School of Management regarding plans to create a new educational facility on the four-acre plot of University property between 155 and 175 Whitney Ave.

While the planning process is still in its infant stages — the building committee has yet to select an architect, begin building plans or set a start date — a larger-than-expected matriculating class has put new pressure on the school to quicken its pace. Initial planning began over a year ago, when the committee surveyed SOM students, faculty, administrators and other groups to determine why the school needed to expand and what a new facility should include.

SOM Deputy Dean Stanley Garstka said Yale President Richard Levin has given SOM permission to temporarily decrease the size of the student body to 180 per class, so that its new curriculum can be implemented smoothly this year despite space constraints. Even so, he said the school ended up matriculating the more standard number of 208 students into the class of 2008.

SOM spokeswoman Elizabeth Stauderman said the school’s current overcrowding and the resulting need to expand are a “mixed blessing”.

“The school facility was just never designed to have more than 210 students in each class, plus the 40 additional Ph.D. students,” Stauderman said. “The program has grown and will continue to grow, which is why this new campus is even more important going forward.”

In a management program, where most of the work and learning is done in a cooperative group environment, Garstka said the shortage of breakout rooms for groups to work in is one of the main obstacles posed by the existing facilities.

“Professional students want the places they learn in to be representative of where they’ll work in the real world,” Garstka said.

University Planning Office architect and project manager David Yager said this same priority on environmental quality extends to other educational services employed by professional students.

In recent years SOM’s new International Center for Finance, which is located next door at 46 Hillhouse Ave., has helped to house additional faculty, administrative and support staff, much as the addition of Horchow Hall at 55 Hillhouse Ave. did in the late 1980s. SOM Associate Dean Diane Palmeri said the school’s expansion has become inevitable by this point.

“We’ve done as much as we can with the existing facility,” Palmeri said. “We even extended the class schedule into the evening to make as much use of the given space as possible. We’ve just literally maxed out what we can do.”

Yager said his responsibilities as project manager for SOM’s expansion thus far have included taking the project from its inception and will include seeing it through to its eventual construction. He said he began by drafting a statement of need, which serves as a road map for the construction process. The statement of need addresses the school’s programming needs through massing studies or descriptions of spaces needed, their number and size, and their relative locations.

“It’s hard enough to deliver a new curriculum, but we probably couldn’t do with the setup we have now,” Yager said. “The current space just doesn’t work for what we want to do.”

Michael Morand, Yale’s associate vice president for New Haven and state affairs, said University officials have met with residents on Lincoln Street, which is close to the planned construction site.

Lincoln Street resident and Yale English professor Paul Fry said that while he and other residents were very concerned when they first heard of SOM’s plans to expand, they have since been reassured in meetings with Yale representatives.

“Our main concerns are that the building be at a sufficient distance from our properties and that it not be too high,” Fry wrote in an e-mail. “Planners seem to be leaning toward our views. We are assured that we will be consulted when an architect is hired and that our concerns for the integrity of the neighborhood will be taken into consideration at every step of the process.”