It is unclear when School of Architecture Dean Robert A.M. Stern ARC ’65 will see his designs for Yale’s two new residential colleges become a reality, but the architect’s first Yale project will be up and running by May.
Construction is well underway for the new Greenberg Conference Center, which is on schedule to open in May, a little over a year after construction started. Located adjacent to Betts House on Prospect Street, the $14 million center will provide space for the Office of International Affairs to host executives and foreign dignitaries for international programs, which until this point have generally been held only during the quiet summer months due to space constraints during the academic year.
[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”11314″ ]
The center will feature a courtyard linking it with Betts House — which houses the Center for the Study of Globalization — but will remain “visually distinct” from the existing structure, Stern said in an interview Tuesday. Beyond just the immediate context of the Betts House, though, the architects also considered the architecture of Yale’s campus as a whole, Stern said, given the possibility that international visitors might not have a chance to see the rest of the campus.
“We really wanted to convey a sense of Yale,” he said, though he emphasized that the center was not designed to replicate quintessential Yale buildings like Branford College.
The center will allow more international leadership programs to be held throughout the year, said Donald Filer, the director of the Office of International Affairs. Only a few such conferences have already occurred, including one that brought Indian parliamentary leaders to Yale and another that included the presidents of China’s top universities.
According to Vice President and University Secretary Linda Lorimer, these expansions into international leadership education will also redefine “who the Yale student is.”
“Obviously our focus and attention will continue to be those who are matriculated here,” Lorimer said. “But particularly in the professional schools, you have faculty who are doing cutting-edge research that could benefit not only the next generation of leaders, but also the current generation of leaders.”
The center’s construction also had another purpose — serving as a trial run of sorts for Stern, who was commissioned in September to design Yale’s two new residential colleges.
In response to worries that Stern’s appointment at the School of Architecture would present a conflict of interest if he worked on the new colleges, University President Richard Levin pointed to Stern’s commission to design the Greenberg Conference Center in a September interview.
“I will admit in giving Bob Stern the commission for the Greenberg Conference Center a couple years ago, that was in a certain sense a way of testing whether this would be an issue,” Levin said in September. “It’s been a great working relationship and hasn’t interfered in the slightest way with the affairs of the School of Architecture.”
The center, whose funding has remained unaffected by the recent endowment drop, will boast a 60-seat sloping amphitheater with audiovisual booths, a 40-seat classroom and a 100-seat dining room, all equipped with translation booths, Samuel Carbone ARC ’94, director of project management at the Office of Facilities, said in an e-mail message. It will also contain two seminar rooms, a kitchen, lobby and a coat room as well as offices and various storage spaces, Carbone said.
But the building is “primarily geared towards international conferences,” Filer said, adding that no events aimed at undergraduate students have been planned so far.
The Greenberg Conference Center is one of several construction projects on campus that are currently targeting the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold rating. The rating, which is administered by the United States Green Building Council, is based on the sustainability of the site, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, innovation and design process.
Several initiatives —including the use of geothermal wells to supply heating and cooling — have been employed in order to achieve this goal, Carbone said. “This will substantially reduce the carbon footprint [the building] would have had through more conventional systems,” he said.