Christina Lee, Photography Editor

On Wednesday, urban studies Professor Elihu Rubin hosted a launch party at the New Haven Free Public Library to celebrate the first two issues of the New Haven Building Newsprint — a new publication with the Yale Urban Media Project. 

The event featured presentations on the publication’s first two issues, as well as open discussion on urbanism and architecture in New Haven. While some attendees expressed interest in celebrating historic neighborhoods in New Haven, others raised concerns about the changing cityscape, especially the rise of gentrification. 

“I always think that covering architecture in the built environment is important because social, economic and political issues are filtered through the built environment,” Rubin said. “The built environment reflects and expresses all of the tensions around society. And that’s my mission as an architectural historian: to invite people to consider all of these questions through the lens of buildings.” 

The launch party opened with a presentation from Zach Felder GRAD ’23 from the Yale School of Architecture, who authored the two published issues. 

The first issue, released in January 2023, covered the architectural phenomenon of “5-over-1” buildings. A 5-over-1 is a residential structure constructed with five wooden stories above a concrete or steel platform. The construction of these buildings has boomed in New Haven since 2013 when The Novella, an apartment complex on Chapel Street, became the first 5-over-1. Since then, over 20 new 5-over-1 buildings have been built in the Elm City, accounting for around 3,868 apartments. 

“They’re all over,” Felder said. “And they’re going to be here to stay.”

According to Felder, one issue with 5-over-1 is that the space on their ground floors often houses gyms, lobbies and facilities that are designed to serve the residents of the 5-over-1s. As a result, the space is privatized rather than housing businesses that serve the broader community.

At the end of Felder’s first presentation, the attendees engaged in an open discussion. Participants raised concerns about the longevity of these buildings, gentrification and the preservation of New Haven authenticity and affordability. 

Felder then discussed the second Newsprint issue, which focused on “Frankenstein” buildings. A Frankenstein is a house that typically starts as a single-family house and undergoes small additions over time. Eventually, a storefront is attached to the front of the house. In New Haven, Frankensteins can be spotted on Chapel Street and Ferry Street. According to Newsprint, there are over 79 Frankenstein buildings in New Haven today. 

At the end of the event, Professor Rubin opened the forum for a discussion of the next issues, asking attendees which architectural topics piqued their interest as New Haven residents. For Rubin, the goal of the Newsprint is to create a space for these concerns.

“We have the New Haven Independent, we have the arts paper, we have the Daily News, which are great sources for people to get to know the city,” Rubin said. “But we wanted to do something that was focused about urban history [and] architecture.”

Daniel Morales ’27  also expressed interest in learning more about the architectural makeup of New Haven. Morales believes the publication will help expose Yalies to the architecture of the city outside of the “Yale bubble.” 

“[The Newsprint] is very contextualized and offers different perspectives for any undergraduate who comes here,” said Morales. “And they could take a lot from these types of presentations, especially those who sort of go on campus, and do not necessarily have the chance or the time to explore around.” 

For now, Rubin and Felder said they hope to expand the readership of Newsprint and maintain their focus on the architectural trends relevant to New Haven. 

Felder also takes pride in the print form of the newspaper. 

“There’s something nice about physical media – that you can kind of accidentally find it. And so we’ve just kind of been leaving these around town, and who knows who reads them,” Felder said.

The New Haven Newsprint is distributed in print and can also be found on the Yale Urban Media Studies website.