With the economy faltering, new construction projects across the country are stalling. But not for old Eli.

At a city planning meeting held Wednesday, the University laid out plans to completely renovate Swartwout Hall and Street Hall. The two buildings are part of a second phase to expand the Yale University Art Gallery, located on the corner of Chapel and High streets. Although city officials expressed some concern about lighting, members of the New Haven City Plan commission reviewed the plans, which are now pending final approval.

[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”11839″ ]

Despite the nation’s economic woes, Michael Morand ’87 DIV ’93, associate vice president of the Yale Office of New Haven and State Affairs, said the city is still seeing some construction.

“There’s good news in New Haven,” he said at the meeting. “[Yale’s] not done building.”

The addition of Street Hall and Swartwout Hall, formerly occupied by the Art History Department, will provide much needed space for the Gallery’s ever-expanding collection.

“The Art Gallery will be able to hold substantially more public exhibitions,” Morand said, providing further revenue for local businesses.

Polshek Partnership, an architecture firm based in New York City, will oversee the renovation of the two halls. Lloyd DesBrisay, an architect with Polshek Partnership, explained the plans in detail to the City Plan commission.

The University plans to add around 9,600 square feet of floor space to Swartwout Hall, DesBrisay said, while Street Hall will lose about 1,800 square feet of floor space. In addition to a rooftop renovation to Swartwout, the firm also plans to place a structure garden between Street Hall and Vanderbilt Hall.

New Haven City Engineer Richard Miller expressed concern that the University’s plans failed to fully address sidewalk lighting.

But, DesBrisay said, exhibition banners ringing the expanded Gallery would provide enough “ambient light for pedestrians.”

Lawrence Regan, a senior architect with Yale’s project management division, said construction will start in January 2009 and is expected to be finished by the end of 2010.

For the first month of the project, construction would close two lanes of Chapel Street, and one lane thereafter, Regan said.

The Yale University Art Gallery will remain partially open throughout the construction.