Compiled by Pari Syal Photography: Chuck Choi;courtesy Foster+Partners
Being a former student of Yale School of Architecture has only been an added inspiration to Lord Foster, as Foster +Partners design the new Evans Hall combining world-class teaching facilities with inspirational social spaces.
The new Edward P. Evans Hall’s design is guided by the principle that interactions outside of the formal teaching areas are as important as classroom-based learning.
Arranged around a central courtyard, classrooms are contained within 16 double-height oval drums, and can support every style of learning, from team-based working to lectures, discussions -in the round’ and video conferencing. Integrating state-of-the-art technology, the facilities include simultaneous translation, filming, multimedia displays and enhanced acoustics to ensure that every student has the opportunity to see and hear clearly.
The five-storey building incorporates a variety of social spaces concentrated at ground level, where there is a coffee shop, media library and a large common room, opening out into the courtyard. On the second floor, classrooms are connected by a wide internal circulation -cloister’ – the glazed faade around the courtyard follows the undulations of the blue classroom drums to define bays, where students can gather. The third floor is pulled back from the facade to form a mezzanine, opening visual connections between the different levels. The building also unites Yale’s faculty departments in a single location for the first time and brings a high level of transparency to the traditionally enclosed college courtyard, creating a green heart for the campus community, which is visible throughout the school.
Besides, a semi-circular Beinecke Room on the second floor provides a flexible events and meeting space with capacity for 80 diners, and is connected to a large, curving terrace with views over the natural landscape to the east. A 350-seat auditorium below the Beinecke Room provides an impressive venue for Yale’s high-profile lecture series and, unlike traditionally closed auditoria, retains a visual connection with the courtyard outside. This open, welcoming approach extends to embrace the wider campus: the transparent faade opens the building up to Whitney Avenue, making visible the feature staircases contained within two glass drums on either side of the entrance, and showcasing the School’s activities. The roof is held aloft by slim pillars and projects to shade both the faade and a wide entrance plaza. Targeting the highest environmental standards, the sustainable design responds to the unique climate of New Haven and the patterns of use specific to a university faculty. The building utilizes chilled beams, a displacement system of ventilation and solar shading, and the building’s high performance envelope with solar responsive shading naturally reduces energy demand.
Highlighting the interiors are some especially commissioned works of art: bold murals by Sol LeWitt, which bring the circulation spaces to life in swirls of colour; and a site-specific installation by the Swiss artist Adrian Schiess, whose 90 painted panels appear to magically change colour as the viewer moves around them.
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