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Yale University Has Newly Completed Arts Complex Designed by Charles Gwathmey
Yale University arts complex, view from the southeast, 2008. Photograph: Richard Barnes.

NEW HAVEN, CT.-Yale University has completed work on its major new arts complex, comprising Paul Rudolph Hall, home to the University’s esteemed School of Architecture (and formerly known as the Art & Architecture building); the Jeffrey H. Loria Center for the History of Art; and the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library. The project has been designed by Charles Gwathmey, of Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects, who received his Master of Architecture from Yale in 1962, while Mr. Rudolph was chairman of the Department of Architecture. Its completion marks a milestone in the Master Plan for the Yale Arts Area, the University’s ambitious initiative to expand and improve all of its arts facilities.

Rudolph’s renowned building will be officially re-dedicated on November 7 and 8, 2008, in a two-day celebration that includes three major panel discussions, among other events. The first scholarly exhibition of Rudolph’s work, Model City: Buildings and Projects by Paul Rudolph for Yale and New Haven, will also be on view.

Yale University President Richard C. Levin states, “The creation of the new arts complex speaks to the University’s profound commitment to maintaining its leadership in the visual and performing arts, and to ensuring that Yale arts continue to play a preeminent role not only in student life, but also in shaping the cultural landscape in this country and internationally. That commitment is superbly embodied by this new facility. Designed to enable continuous interchange between the Department of the History of Art and the School of Architecture, it provides the atmosphere and conditions in which new ideas may be developed and new art may be forged.

Moreover, Yale understands that its obligation to the arts extends to stewardship of the many great modern buildings on campus, among which Paul Rudolph Hall is one of the best known. Preserving them as important works of architecture exemplifies the enlightened vision that has made Yale a beacon in the arts.”

After approximately a year of closure, Paul Rudolph Hall has been brought back to life both architecturally and intellectually. The iconic 1963 building, which has been restored to its original design with support from Sid R. Bass, is once again enlivened by the creative activities of architecture students and faculty, set against the backdrop of newly restored open spaces and light filled vistas.

In the Loria Center, which is sited at the north end of the Rudolph building, students and faculty of the Department of the History of Art are embarking on their first semester in an expansive new facility that will enable them to broaden the areas of study currently encompassed by the Department. Students and faculty from these as well as other disciplines will meet in the new Haas Family Arts Library, which straddles the Loria Center and Rudolph Hall and brings together diverse collections that have until now been housed in separate locations.

Paul Rudolph Hall will be officially rededicated, and the entire project celebrated, in a series of events taking place on November 7 and 8.

Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture, adds, “To see Rudolph’s masterpiece restored to its original glory, and to see students once again working in its light filled spaces, is exhilarating. We hope that the restoration of this building—designed by one of the most talented, inventive, and important architects of the last century—will call attention to the pressing need to preserve both Paul Rudolph’s work in particular, and great modern architecture in general. The entire School of Architecture extends its thanks to Charles Gwathmey, whose design was created with such sensitivity to and knowledge of Rudolph’s aesthetic intentions. He has given students, faculty, and staff an inspiring place in which to work.”

Charles Gwathmey notes, “The renovation and restoration of Rudolph’s Art & Architecture building has been among the most meaningful projects of my career. It is a building of great intricacy, often breathtaking beauty, and major historical importance, and my colleagues and I are proud to have been entrusted with its revitalization. We are delighted as well to have created a new adjacent building that at once expands upon Rudolph’s vision and adds a signature building to the Yale campus. I would like to thank Yale University, particularly President Levin and Dean Stern, for engaging me and my colleagues for this project.”

Arts Complex In creating the new arts complex, Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects was charged with several tasks. Primary among these were to restore Rudolph’s historic building—a masterpiece of space, light, and mass—to its original intention, and to introduce state-of-the-art technology, air conditioning, and LEED standards; to design a new facility to serve Yale’s eminent Department of the History of Art, ensuring a building with a unique identity; to create an expanded art, drama, and architecture library with a street-level presence and entry; and to maintain a harmonious relationship both among the elements of the arts complex and between that multifaceted structure and the surrounding streetscape. In the resulting design, the Jeffrey H. Loria Center for the History of Art has been built on the north side of Paul Rudolph Hall, reflecting Rudolph’s original plan to expand the building to the north, with the Haas Family Arts Library bridging both buildings.

Work on Paul Rudolph Hall included a mix of literal restoration, interpretive renovation, and sensitive intervention, all sympathetic to Rudolph’s vision. Mr. Gwathmey restored open spaces that had been fractured, revived views that had long been blocked by prior renovations and ill-placed partitions, recaptured Rudolph’s concept for the building’s fenestration—using replacement windows made with contemporary technology and materials—and restored the exterior walls. The building’s penthouse and rooftop terrace have also been fully restored, and an easily accessible entrance to Hastings Hall, the main lecture theater, has been created.

New lighting and furnishings have been introduced throughout the building. Meticulous care has been taken to ensure that all of these items are ones that Rudolph himself either used or would have used, resulting in an interior that is both distinctly of the building’s era and consistent with Rudolph’s aesthetic vision.

The library that was originally in the building has been vastly expanded and transformed, as the University’s art, architecture, and drama libraries and its arts of the book collections—previously located in separate buildings across campus—are now integrated into a single, comprehensive resource. The new Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library straddles the two buildings of the arts complex at the ground-floor level.

Mr. Gwathmey has linked Paul Rudolph Hall to the Jeffrey H. Loria Center for the History of Art by using the tower that once marked the north end of the Art & Architecture building as a “fulcrum” between the two structures. The arts complex thus links old and new literally, functionally, aesthetically, and figuratively, and, in a subversion of architectural tradition, it includes a solid rather than a void at the center of the two structures. In so doing, the design articulates both Rudolph’s ceremonial stair leading to the second level and the new ground-level entry to the building, which houses the elevators, circulation, reception, and lobby spaces for both buildings.

The 87,000-square-foot, limestone-and-zinc clad Loria Center includes expanded and generously appointed teaching and lecture spaces and student and faculty support facilities that will serve the department for generations to come. Also included are new gathering spaces for students and faculty, including a street-level café that will be open to the public and outdoor terraces on the fourth and seventh floors, each offering previously unavailable views of Paul Rudolph Hall as well as panoramic views of the Yale campus and the City of New Haven. One of the chief improvements provided by the new facility is that—for the first time—the Department of the History of Art is housed in the same building as the arts library.

Work on the arts complex was conducted so as to fulfill the University’s commitment to energy efficiency and sustainable construction. Most of the furnishings, for example, are “Greenguard Certified,” and the air conditioning is a state-of-the-art, energy-efficient system. Yale anticipates that the entire project will receive a LEED silver rating.

School of Architecture The study of architecture at Yale dates to 1916, when the Department of Architecture was established in the University’s School of the Fine Arts. In 1959 the School of Art and Architecture, as it was then known, was made into a graduate professional school; in 1972 Yale designated the School of Architecture as an independent professional school. Internationally acclaimed as one of the world’s leading centers for the study of architecture and design, the Yale School of Architecture is marked by curricular and philosophical breadth. The School’s rigorous yet broad-minded approach enables students to develop their individual talents without regard to trends or dogma. Students engage in a diversity of disciplined coursework, complemented by dialogue with eminent scholars, architects, critics, artists, environmentalists, sociologists, real-estate developers, and others.

Graduates of the School of Architecture include many of the most distinguished and influential architects of the last fifty years.

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