Yale officials are expected to present a revised design of the new School of Management campus, including wider sidewalks and an additional floor, at a closed-door meeting with local residents and city officials tonight.
University President Richard Levin said in an interview Wednesday evening that although the overall square footage of the revised SOM design is unchanged, the new design has a smaller footprint and will leave more space between the building and the property lines to its north and south sides. The change in the campus design follows criticism from local residents about the building’s magnitude, as well as recommendations the City Plan Commission made in part to assuage neighborhood concerns.
Still, Yale officials have planned for an additional floor to keep the area of the original plan’s floor space — 246,000 square feet — unchanged. The height of the building will also remain the same, City Plan Commission chairman Edward Mattison LAW ’68 said, because officials will install the additional floor in the extra space between the roof and the original top floor.
University Associate Vice President for New Haven and State Affairs Michael Morand ’87 DIV ’93 and other Yale representatives will meet tonight with residents who live near the SOM campus to discuss the new design.
“We were not required to do this, but were requested to consider the modification of the design,” Levin said. “We looked at it and found a good solution.”
At its December meeting, the City Plan Commission recommended nine provisions for the Board of Aldermen to impose on Yale, including one to start construction no more than 90 days after the demolition of the on site buildings, located at 155 and 175 Whitney Ave. Mattison said Yale’s revised plans also includes larger sidewalks, a provision the Board of Alderman has recommended; since last November, the Board has advised that Yale officials add eight-foot public sidewalks adjacent to the SOM building for pedestrians and cyclists.
Yale must now send its revised plans to City Hall for approval. City Plan Director Karyn Gilvarg ARC ’75 wrote in an e-mail Wednesday that Yale officials will submit the new plan to the Board of Aldermen in preparation for a public hearing Jan. 28.
Mattison and Ward 9 Alderman Roland Lemar said they think Yale’s decision to revise its original building proposal will appease neighbors’ concerns. Lemar, whose constituents occupy the neighborhoods surrounding the proposed SOM building, said he thinks the new SOM building, as it is presented in the revised designs, will benefit the residential neighborhood; most of the neighbors want the consolidation of the SOM campus and possible improvements to the surrounding landscape, he said.
Nevertheless, the alderman, who will attend tonight’s closed-door meeting, said meetings with city officials and local residents concerning the new campus will continue after the Jan. 28 public hearing.
Lemar said preservation groups are not invited to tonight’s closed-door meeting, since the objective of the meeting is to have only local residents discuss concerns with Yale officials. But preservation groups, which have argued that 155 and 175 Whitney Ave. should not be razed because the demolition would radically alter the look of the neighborhood, are likely to attend the Jan. 28 public meeting, he said.
In an e-mail Wednesday, John Herzan, the preservation services officer for New Haven Public Preservation Trust, declined to comment on the revisions until he understands their specifics.
Despite a recent $8,888,888 donation from SOM alumnus Lei Zhang GRD ’02 SOM ’02 to help to fund the construction of the new campus, Mattison said city officials worry Yale has not yet raised enough funds to construct the building — a point he said will be a major topic of discussion at the public hearing.
Although Levin said the University still has not raised all the money it needs for construction, he and SOM Dean Sharon Oster said in separate interviews Wednesday that they are confident they will raise enough funds to break ground on the project this summer.
“All I know is that we don’t want an empty space in New Haven,” Mattison said. “I don’t want a parking lot.”