Last week’s shallow review of the new Rosenkranz Hall disappointed and frustrated me (“New building does not fit in,” Oct. 23). The building sits comfortably in a graceless site along Prospect Street. The scale of the entire facade is human yet urban, a welcome change from the awkwardly removed and virtually unscaled box of Luce Hall, which formerly dominated the lot. Clean lines and formal clarity tie the structure to 77 Prospect next door, while the pale yellow coloring relates back to both the Malone Center down the street and the sandstone of the main campus.
Rosenkranz pulls the eye, and the pedestrian, along the sidewalk remarkably well. The facade’s repetition sings along the street, up down, up down, up down, animating and enriching the area. The self-assurance that accompanies architecture confident of its quality and comfortable with its time and place fills the complex. It is far from “not fitting in.”
Though the courtyard lacks the “secret garden” feel of the best of Yale’s courtyards, it is still a peaceful respite. It successfully transitions from urban to academic, public to private and from the street to the Hillhouse Mansion’s backyard. As soon as Rosenkranz is outfitted with an appropriate pair of gates, the whole assemblage will be a pleasant place to work.
Far from being out of place, Rosenkranz sits as form derived from Old Campus. The row of tall glass towers march like modern lancet windows on a solid stone base, a simple yet rhythmic box to hold steadfast the street in much the same way Durfee Hall dominates over Elm Street. Rosenkranz does this with markedly more exuberance than Durfee and moves past Yale’s antiquated obsession with seclusion and privacy. The building displays its most interesting facade for New Haven without shortchanging the interior or dominating the neighborhood. The whole building seems to join with the street and open to the residential colleges to come.
Ultimately, the new Rosenkranz Hall is all about context. It stands in the context of Yale’s built history, harking back to the forms first erected on central campus while hiding our more recent mistake, Luce Hall. It fits in the context of aesthetics, easing the journey to Science Hill while serving as a lyrical facade for the social sciences. It is a well-designed, well-executed and pleasant place to learn and work — a living structure filled with daylight and the Yale spirit.
The writer is a sophomore in Morse College.