Those concerned about the future of New Haven’s architectural landmarks have one fewer thing to worry about after Thursday night’s City Planning Commission meeting. Plans for the renovation of Ingalls Rink approved at the meeting will not affect the rink’s distinctive roof design, the source of its “Yale Whale “nickname.

The renovations, set to begin in July 2009, will create larger locker rooms, make the men’s and women’s varsity ice hockey facilities more equivalent and create more facilities at the rink for community members to use, Bob Sageurst, a developer with the Turner Corporation working on the project, said at the meeting. The renovations will take place completely out of sight of public view, as the 14,000-square-foot expansion will be located in a new basement beneath the ice.

“In a recent poll, the Ingalls Rink was voted one of the 150 favorite buildings in America, so the exterior look will not be changed,” Sageurst said.

According to the developers’ presentation at the meeting, a ramp to provide access for the disabled will be the only addition visible from street level.

A June 2007 University press release said the renovations would also include training rooms, an additional press box, new offices, a study area and a new sound system. But Sageurst said the limited extra space within the building led developers to look below ground level to make these additions.

“The building is very cramped, and the ice surface is small because of the spectator seating,” Sageurst said.

Ingalls Rink first opened in 1958 as the home of the Yale men’s ice hockey team, which was joined in 1977 by the women’s team. Architect Eero Saarinen designed the building, which is currently used by the Yale Figure Skating Club, intramural ice hockey teams and youth hockey leagues in addition to the men’s and women’s varsity squads.

In addition to the newly constructed underground area, the concrete and the old building materials will be restored on the rest of the building, and the spaceship-like sculpture outside of the building will be refinished, Phil Consella, a Turner Construction developer, said. The renovations will also eliminate the 22 parking spaces that are currently adjacent to the rink.

Karyn Gilvarg, executive director of the New Haven City Plan Department, said zoning ordinances — which are reviewed by the city Zoning Board — do not apply to the project, other than the ramp, because the expansion will take place below street level.

“The main goal of this construction is to restore Ingalls Rink to its previous appearance,” she said.

City Planning Commission Chair Patricia King and the rest of the board voted unanimously to approve the building plans.

The commission addressed several other building projects yesterday evening, including a Yale proposal to convert the historic Three Chimneys Inn into an office building for alumni relations. The construction plans, presented by Christopher Williams, a developer of the project were approved by the board after a presentation that lasted only a few minutes.

The buildings renovations will cost the Yale Corporation around $23 million, according plans at presented at the meeting by the Turner Construction Company. Construction on Ingalls rink is scheduled to be completed in 2010.