On a corner lot in New Haven’s West River neighborhood sits a 1,000-square-foot house, recently completed by first-year students at the Yale School of Architecture.
The house, located on 193 Winthrop Ave., was constructed as part of the Jim Vlock Building Project — a required annual program for first-year graduate students in which participants design and construct a home in New Haven. First introduced in 1967, the project gives architecture students the chance to see a job through from conceptualization to realization. From 1989 onwards, the focus of the project has shifted to serve economically challenged neighborhoods in the Elm City.
“The Vlock program has for decades distinguished [the School of Architecture] from its peers,” Michael Morand, Deputy Chief Communications Officer for the Yale Office of Public Affairs and Communication, said. “Yalies in architecture are more than students — they become citizens and neighbors.”
This year, the students had to design the home on a corner lot — a particularly challenging task since such buildings can only be accessed from one side.
According to project manager Alexander Kruhly GRD ’17, each student in the class designs a prototype for the house in the spring. Halfway through the semester, the first-year class is split into teams to combine and refine their designs. The faculty then chooses a winning scheme from the designs. Finally, the class works as a single group to fine-tune the winning design before beginning construction in June, Kruhly said. Fourteen students see the construction work to completion as interns at the school from July until August.
“As students, we gain an entirely new understanding of architecture through active involvement in the construction process,” Kruhly said.
The school has partnered with NeighborWorks New Horizons of New Haven — an organization committed to offering affordable housing to city residents — and private equity firm HTP Ventures LLC, which specializes in mass-producing affordable housing. This is the second year of both these partnerships. Last year, students built the house at 179 Scranton St., just 300 feet from the new building.
The building project will likely maintain its focus on low-income areas of New Haven, said project manager Tess McNamara GRD ’17.
“The building project is one of the most notable and established projects of its kind,” Kruhly said. “The project is an integral component of [the school’s] curriculum and serves as an influential draw to the school for many prospective students.”
Kruhly said few other architecture schools allow students to work on a project as large as the Jim Vlock Building Project.
The house’s Monday grand opening is a free event, open to the public.