After years of anticipation, the construction of Yale’s two new residential colleges on Prospect Street is finally reaching the home stretch, as builders finish crafting the Gothic facade of the two structures.
According to University spokesman Tom Conroy, the exterior of the two new colleges — named in honor of Benjamin Franklin and Anna Pauline Murray LAW ’65 — will be finished at the end of March, with the rest of the project scheduled to wrap up three months later. Workers at the Prospect Street site are now focused on the interior portion of the building complex, painting walls and polishing floors in rooms that will soon house hundreds of Yale undergraduates.
“The buildings feel so much like they’ve always been at Yale,” University President Peter Salovey said. “There’s been so much attention to detail, from courtyards to common spaces to iconography, that really makes these Gothic colleges seem not like they were opened in 2017, but that they’ve been here far longer.”
Yale formally broke ground on Murray and Benjamin Franklin in April 2015, although the first fleet of construction cranes appeared on site months earlier. In the past few weeks, an indoor building crew has begun assembling the power and heating systems in the colleges, while other workers plant trees in the courtyards and install shelving in the libraries. A large wrought-iron gate will be installed at each of the college’s entrances later this spring.
According to Conroy, in the time between the end of construction in June and the formal opening of the colleges in August, contractors will complete the project’s remaining “punch list” items — a set of small tasks that workers missed during the main portion of the construction process.
Head of Benjamin Franklin College Charles Bailyn ’81, who said he toured the new facilities in February, said he was impressed by the progress the builders keep making.
“Every time I go in there, things are much further along,” Bailyn said.
The construction of the two Prospect Street colleges was funded by a $250 million donation — the largest gift in University history — from Charles Johnson ’54. After an extensive transfer process that concluded in February, around 200 current undergraduates secured rooms in each of the new colleges.
And in the last few weeks, students sporting Murray and Benjamin Franklin sweatshirts have become a fixture in libraries and dining halls across the University.
“I’m super excited to see the colleges becoming a concrete reality that I’ll be part of, since they’ve just been an abstract idea to me for so long,” said Emil Beckford ’19, who is transferring to Murray.
Beckford added that the way Murray and Benjamin Franklin combine Yale’s traditional Gothic architecture with top-notch modern facilities makes the new Prospect Street buildings especially attractive to students.
But not all students are completely satisfied with the architectural design of Murray and Benjamin Franklin. In 2008, Yale was criticized for hiring the firm Robert A.M. Stern Architects to design the new colleges in traditional Gothic fashion, rather than experimenting with a more contemporary style.
Ling Dong ’19 said she prefers the distinctive modern look of Morse and Ezra Stiles colleges to the red-brick facade of the new colleges but was won over by the interior design of the Murray library. Jonathan Roig ’18 said he was disappointed that the colleges were not built in a more unorthodox style, but nonetheless finds his new college, Benjamin Franklin, visually beautiful.
Still, Jordan Lampo ’20, who is transferring into Murray, said that although she has not toured the new facilities, she has already fallen in love with the view of the colleges on the walk up Prospect Street.
“When I was up there last week, I noticed ‘Pauli Murray College’ etched into one of the stone arches on the front of the building,” Lampo said. “It was so beautiful that I had to actually stop walking.”