Yale University is slated to renovate and expand one of its oldest campus institutions, the Peabody Museum of Natural History on Science Hill. Thanks in part to a just-announced $160-million donation from philanthropist and Yale alumnus Edward P. Bass, the project will be the first major update the landmark museum has received in 93 years. The master plan, conceived by Centerbrook Architects and Planners, marks one of the boldest and most thoughtful endeavors the university has taken on in recent years. After well over a decade of planning, the project will yield 50 percent more exhibition space for the museum and improve storage for its on-site collection of over 13 million artifacts. It will also include the addition of a new, four-story infill structure that will connect the neighboring Environmental Science Center. The sky-lit, glass-enclosed connector will give students seamless access into the museum, where Centerbrook will create more modern spaces for research and study. One of Yale’s main goals for the addition, said Centerbrook’s principal Mark Simon, was to complement the timeless architecture of the original Peabody building, a three-story, French Gothic Revival, sandstone structure by renowned campus architect Charles Klauder. Using fritted glass and bronze-colored aluminum framing, the cathedral-like tower will bring a contemporary edge to the aged institution. “The Peabody community wanted to maintain a family resemblance or identity throughout the new and old structures,” said Simon. “It’s always tricky to do something that’s up-to-date but connects well with the historic fabric, but we’re all very pleased with this design.” The building out of the glass tower will be done in the initial phases of construction, Simon said. After that, the renovation of the museum’s existing spaces can begin. So far, a timeline for construction hasn’t been announced as Yale is currently strategizing on how to safely remove portions of the Peabody’s collection to a facility on its West Campus. Both the museum, as well as the other science buildings being updated during the project, will remain open throughout construction to students, faculty, and the 130,000 visitors—which includes 25,000 regional school children—who visit the Peabody each year. Other elements of the master plan include creating new classrooms, labs, and learning spaces for collections-based teaching and scientific exploration. The museum, founded in 1866, has been home to some of the most important discoveries in history and Yale hopes the renovation will help carry on the Peabody’s legacy of advancement in the industry. “As one of Yale’s greatest resources, this museum will provide hands-on learning for students across various undergraduate programs,” said Simon, “and allow them to engage in the processes of the museum itself from research and restoration, to designing exhibits and presenting their work in the galleries.” Centerbrook is one of Yale’s long-time partners. The local firm has completed 12 projects for the university from Kroon Hall, which they designed in collaboration with Hopkins Architects, to the Child Study Center, the renovated and expanded Reese Stadium—home of the men’s and women’s soccer and lacrosse programs—as well as an addition to the historic Yale Bowl. While Simon has worked extensively on many of these buildings, the Peabody renovation is a game-changer for the firm. “We are over the moon that this is finally coming to fruition,” he said. “Each year we spend on it, it seems more and more important to do. It’s more than just another university museum upgrade. You get a sense that this project will not only have a major impact on education at Yale, but on the world at large.”
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Here's another reason to get your Metro North tickets to New Haven this fall: In addition to the colorful foliage, gothic Yale University campus, and various modernist gems such as Paul Rudolph's School of Architecture and Louis Kahn's Center for British Art, The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library will reopen its iconic building on Tuesday, September 6, following a 16-month renovation led by Hammond Beeby Rupert Ainge Architects working with Newman Architects of New Haven. Completed in 1963, Beinecke is considered Gordon Bunshaft's masterpiece. Its exterior grid of granite and Vermont marble panels are one of the most recognizable designs of that era, and remain both inspiring and inimitable. The renovations restored the architectural landmark to its illuminated glory by refurbishing the six-story glass stack tower, preserving the sculpture garden by Isamu Noguchi, upgrading the library’s climate-control system, and expanding classroom space. “We are excited to welcome back researchers and visitors to the library—an architectural masterpiece that has been adapted to meet challenges created by an ever expanding collection, changing technology, and the evolving nature of the library’s mission,” Beinecke Library Director Edwin “E.C.” Schroeder said. “The renovation ensures that the Beinecke Library will remain a world-class center for teaching, research, and scholarship for decades to come.” New classrooms will allow students to study the physical structures of books and experiment with inks, papermaking, and printing. The advanced fire suppression system was upgraded, which includes the famous ability to drop the rare books and manuscripts 6 stories into the ground in the case of fire. In May 2015, in preparation for the project, five miles worth of collection material—the equivalent of about 255,000 books—was relocated to the Yale University Library Shelving Facility. The rare books in the collection includes Yale’s copy of the Gutenberg Bible—one of 21 complete copies of the first book printed in moveable type still in existence. On display in the exhibition space will be John Audubon’s “Birds of America." Two exhibitions will mark the reopening. One will showcase recent acquisitions to the library’s collections, including Medieval manuscripts, early and contemporary photography, and the papers of celebrated writers. Items on display will include photographs of Abraham Lincoln from the Meserve-Kunhardt Collection of 19th century American photography, a collection of letters from James Baldwin, additions to the Ezra Pound papers, and selections from archives of playwright Paula Vogel, and writer David Rakoff. The second exhibition, “Destined to be Known: The James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection at 75,” celebrates the 75th anniversary of Yale’s collection of African American arts and literature named for civil rights advocate and renowned man of letters James Weldon Johnson. Founded in 1941 by Carl Van Vechten, the collection contains the papers, works, and memorabilia of African American writers and artists from the 18th century through modern times. It features the archives of Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, and Zora Neale Hurston, among other luminaries. The library will host an open house for the public on Saturday, October 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
ARO, KieranTimberlake, Mack Scogin Merrill Elam make shortlist for Washington University in St. Louis
Washington University in St. Louis on Monday announced the three finalists competing to design a new building for its Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. The three teams vying to design Annabeth & John Weil Hall are: Architecture Research Office (ARO), KieranTimberlake, and Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects. The building is part of the university's arts and architecture campus, a collection of limestone-clad structures ranging from Beaux Arts style structures dating to the St. Louis world's fair of 1904 to more modern additions by Fumihiko Maki. The Sam Fox School campus is visually set apart from the university's predominantly Collegiate Gothic Danforth Campus. No renderings or specific timelines are available yet, but a previous announcement of the project said the university aimed to complete construction within the next five years. The new building is part of the university's 10–15 strategic “Design for Excellence” campus plan. New York City–based ARO has designed academic buildings for universities including Tulane, Brown, and Princeton, as well as renovations to Donald Judd's home and studio in Soho. KieranTimberlake has worked with Yale, Rice, and Tulane universities. In the firm's home base of Philadelphia, it has helped revamp Dilworth Park with architectural greenhouses serving as entrances to the city's subway system. Atlanta's Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects count among its higher education clients Yale, Carnegie Mellon, and Clemson universities, and the firm was shortlisted to design a new U.S. embassy in Beirut (that job ultimately went to Morphosis). As part of the selection process, each firm will deliver a public presentation in Washington University's Steinberg Auditorium, an early building by Maki dating to 1960 when he was a professor at the university. The event dates are: Monday, March 23, 1:15p.m: Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects Monday, March 23, 4p.m: KieranTimberlake Tuesday, March 24, 1:15p.m: Architecture Research Office (ARO)