As administrators work to expand Yale’s arts facilities, one project under consideration is a new student center for the arts that could offer students space to work and socialize.
Renovations to the Yale University Art Gallery and the Art & Architecture building, as well as other ongoing new construction, will also expand social spaces for students. The potential student center project is low on the University’s priority list, administrators said, but many students said they would be excited to see a centralized space in which students could socialize and make art.
Amy Meyers, the director of the Yale Center for British Art, said while administrators have only discussed the possibility of a student center at this point, she thinks the project would be a welcome addition to existing arts spaces.
“It is an absolutely wonderful idea that everyone would love to see move forward,” Meyers said.
School of Art Dean Robert Storr echoed Meyers’ support for a potential student arts facility. A new center would address a current lack of space for students and help foster community among those from different disciplines, he said.
“There is a desire in people in all of the different schools … that they [be] in active dialogue with each other,” Storr said.
Despite support for this idea, University administrators said, it is unlikely they will develop a more concrete plan anytime soon.
“We have done nothing in our recent decisions to preclude this, but we haven’t worked to make it happen,” University President Richard Levin said.
In 2003, the Committee on Yale College Education completed an extensive report which recommended overhauling the University’s undergraduate arts curriculum and improving and expanding campus facilities. After the report was released, Richard Brodhead, then the dean of Yale College, requested that a subcommittee continue deliberations on how undergraduate arts needs could best be served in residential college renovations and in plans for construction in the arts area, Provost Andrew Hamilton said in an e-mail.
Hamilton said the committee — chaired by Jonathan Edwards College Master Gary Haller — planned spaces for undergraduate use in buildings already included in the comprehensive arts area renovation plans.
According to the Yale Tomorrow Web site, the University plans to dedicate $500 million of its $3 billion capital campaign to construction in the arts area. In addition to the renovations of the Yale University Art Gallery and the Art & Architecture building, some of the more widely publicized building projects include a new sculpture building and gallery for the School of Art, a facility to be shared by the Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art, and a new home for the History of Art department.
“There’s no university in the world dedicating more attention to the arts right now than Yale,” said Jock Reynolds, the director of the Yale University Art Gallery.
Reynolds said these new facilities — including the lobby of the newly renovated Louis Kahn building — will offer a number of social spaces in which students can gather.
Still, the creation of these new areas has not ruled out the possibility of building a student center, Hamilton said.
“The [Haller] committee also considered the longer-term desirability of a student arts center, and this possibility is still under discussion as the arts area evolves,” he said.
Haller said he submitted a report after the committee finished its discussions in 2004, but it has not yet been made public.
Many students said they would like a centralized space for student art activities, since existing student facilities are scattered among the residential colleges and vary widely in quality and accessibility to students from other colleges.
Chris Baker ’09 said restricted hours and staffing limit the potential use of the darkrooms already in residential colleges.
“[A student center for the arts] sounds like a great idea,” Baker said. “Some of the residential colleges provide spaces like that, but it doesn’t quite seem to be enough, and it would be nice to have a central space where students could go.”