Yale Bulletin and Calendar

September 20-27, 1999Volume 28, Number 5













Yale modifies Divinity School renovation plan

Yale University has unveiled a modified $38 million plan to renovate, restore and improve its historic Divinity School, enabling the school to best fulfill its academic mission.

The plan, by architects Robert Kliment and Frances Halsband, is fundamentally consistent with their previous plan of 1997. It is intended to foster a greater sense of community at the school as well as to upgrade its facilities so that the school can continue to achieve its main goal of training students for the Christian ministry. The plan will foster closer collaboration between the school and the Berkeley Divinity School and the Institute for Sacred Music. It also will enable the school to develop new programs in "World Christianity" and "Religion in American Life."

The plan moves the school's center of gravity forward to the picturesque Sterling Divinity Quadrangle, where the Jeffersonian pavilions (which originally served as dormitories) will house seminars, classrooms, offices and larger double-height spaces for the new Berkeley Chapel and the Great Hall of the Institute of Sacred Music. Thus, the plan ensures that the school can best serve a student body that has changed in basic ways -- from one that was largely male, single and lived on campus to one that is now largely coeducational, married and commutes.

Rather than demolish the rear buildings, as previously contemplated, the plan now calls for stabilizing them by making necessary repairs to their exterior, including the roofs, doors and windows. Three of the four buildings in the rear of the Quadrangle will be "mothballed" for potential future use by the University. The fourth will house part of the school's library. The preservation of these buildings is designed to avoid the continued controversy and further litigation that demolition might have engendered, enabling the school to address more quickly its pressing academic needs.

"This exciting plan will do far more than give the Divinity School the improved space that it needs for its academic program," President Richard C. Levin said. "It will nourish a greater sense of community and ensure that people with disabilities can participate fully in the life of the school."

Specifically, this "adaptive re-use" plan calls for renovating the exterior of the Quadrangle, with new roofs, new windows and new doors; renovating the library (and its Day Missions Library), with new finishes and a new climate control system to preserve collections; and renovating Marquand Chapel, with air conditioning, new windows, and improved space for worship and teaching.

The plan moves the Berkeley Divinity School from off-campus to the Quadrangle; moves the Institute for Sacred Music from the rear to newly renovated facilities in the front; relocates the Refectory and Common Room; moves the bookstore to the Quadrangle; and provides for upgraded landscaping and other site improvements like new sidewalks and pathways.

All parts of the school will be physically connected, and all spaces will be accessible to people with disabilities. Some of the connecting wings of the pavilions will house office and workroom space for the Institute for the Advanced Study of Religion at Yale.

The University will implement this plan after raising all of the necessary funds, half of which will come from gifts and half of which will come from the University's capital budget.

The plan is the culmination of years of study, consultation and debate -- dating back to at least 1994 -- about how the school could best fulfill its academic mission in a changing world. The University solicited the views of its students and faculty, outside consultants and the preservation community both locally as well as nationally.

The Quadrangle, which was completed in 1932, consists of 166,000 gross square feet of two- and three-story structures, bordered by Prospect, Canner and St. Ronan streets. The Dean's House, Porter Hall dormitory and three apartment buildings were added in 1957.

Over time, as the student body changed demographically, the deficiencies of the Quadrangle from an academic standpoint became apparent. Classrooms and faculty offices were scattered across the site, making communication and a sense of community difficult to engender. Moreover, the Quadrangle includes 21 different levels and 38 entrance doors to its 17 individual buildings but no integrated network of physical connections among the buildings.

The plan is designed to remedy those shortcomings while preserving the marvelous historical legacy and the Georgian Revival architecture that the Quadrangle and its component parts represent.

Simply put, the plan will create a setting for the school that is more consistent with its new directions -- smaller, yet more selective; independent, yet more firmly connected to the rest of the University, the wider church and the surrounding community; and Christian in mission, yet increasingly cognizant of the multi-cultural and multi-religious landscape of the nation.

Specifically, the plan calls for:

* Renovating and preserving the full exterior of the Quadrangle by replacing or repairing the roof, windows and doors and, in the process, ensuring no further water damage to the interior.

* Making the entire facility accessible to people with disabilities by installing elevators and a series of interior ramps to allow internal circulation among buildings.

* Renovating the space that houses the library by providing all new finishes and all new mechanical and electrical systems, including a new climate control system to preserve a library collection that had been deteriorating due to an inadequate heating system and the resulting swings in temperature.

* Restoring the Day Missions Library, a special collection piece of the School's library.

* Moving part of the library collection to an off-site shelving facility (already the site of parts of other schools' collections) to enable the library to provide more space and more seats for its patrons.

* Renovating the Chapel by providing air conditioning and new windows, and improving the facility to provide better space for worship and teaching.

* Moving the Berkeley Divinity School from its off-campus site to share the Sterling Divinity Quadrangle with the Sterling Divinity School, with which it is affiliated.

* Moving the Institute for Sacred Music, now at the rear of the complex, to the front in newly renovated facilities.

* Constructing a new food service facility (to replace the Refectory) that better responds to the dining needs of the Divinity School community.

* Constructing a new Common Room closer to the center of the Quadrangle.

* Moving the school's bookstore, now located in the basement of a Canner Street apartment building, into renovated space in the Quadrangle, making it more convenient for the School community.

* Providing upgraded landscaping and other site improvements, such as new sidewalks and pathways, in order to improve the connections among the buildings that comprise the Quadrangle.

* Stabilizing and "mothballing" the unoccupied portions of the rear buildings by improving the roofs, the masonry, the windows and doors, and the mechanical systems.


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Campus Notes

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