The School of Management needs a new home. This was painfully obvious last week, when it welcomed its new dean in the Law School auditorium because SOM does not have a space large enough to seat its students and faculty.
The school’s current campus — if you can call it that — is a hodgepodge of buildings that offers the school no functional common space and little sense of community. Contrast that with the situation at the business schools of Harvard, Stanford and other universities, which either have or are in the process of building lavish new facilities. If Yale wants its business school to be competitive with the Whartons and Booths of the world, the University needs to give the school some room to grow.
The proposed new campus, designed by Lord Norman Foster ARC ’62, does just that. It unites SOM under one roof, nearly doubles the amount of space the school occupies and frees up some important real estate for the rest of the University to use. Perhaps equally important, it gives the school a forward-looking visual identity that is a whole lot more impressive than Donaldson Commons.
This is not to say that the design is perfect. It’s not.
Although Foster should be commended for designing the building around a large courtyard, which will help to connect visually the complex at the intersection of Whitney Avenue and Sachem Street with Yale’s great residential colleges, his building does not look like an academic building as much as it looks like a corporate headquarters. There is no shortage of glass on the building, but there are still classrooms without windows. Residents were right to ask for a little bit of breathing room around the building; nobody would deny that this is indeed a very large building.
Still, the revised plan that Yale devised to address such concerns should be approved. In the year since Yale first released renderings of the plan, and in the years of meetings before then, New Haven residents have had ample opportunity to voice concerns, and Yale has been admirably accommodating. It made many changes in response to requests by the City Plan Commission last month and held meetings with the Lincoln-Bradley Neighborhood Association to discuss the design with those likely to be most affected by the new construction. Those who seek to block construction should remember that Yale could have decided to build a taller, narrower building, akin to the Kline Biology Tower, without going through the hearings and discussions needed to receive a zoning variance.
This proposed building is good for Yale and New Haven. The construction alone will pour millions of dollars into the city, the 200 additional business school students will support local stores near the new campus, and a stronger SOM may help to keep more entrepreneurs in town.
Tonight, the Board of Aldermen’s legislation committee will consider Foster’s designs for the first time. We hope the board will recognize that the steps Yale took to address neighborhood concerns are sufficient and will approve the project. Yale has a right to build a new campus and a good reason to want to. The city should not stand in its way.