Yale University's new School of Art and New Theater were completed for the Fall 2000 academic year. The project, to renovate an 80,000 square foot building on New Haven's Chapel Street and construct a new 32,000 square foot building on an adjacent lot, houses the graduate painting, photography, and graphic design programs, undergraduate art programs, and the Drama School's New Theater.
The design challenge was to preserve and adapt several architecturally significant areas within the deteriorated existing building and to design a new adjacent building that would create a complex that functions as a single school. The whole project was guided by the belief that an art school building must function in the background to what is most important: art and the making of art.
Making art requires flexibility; it requires clean surfaces that neither dictate media nor limit dimension. Making art requires light; the existing building has lengthy perimeter walls and these were opened to allow every student to work in a studio with natural light. Making art requires solitude but teaching requires a community; the renovation of and addition to 1156 Chapel Street provides spaces for both. Both the new and existing buildings offer clean concrete floors, large windows, and open plans diverse enough to create a rich variety of spaces.
In addition to spaces for the School of Art, the project includes a 5,000 square foot experimental theater for Yale's School of Drama and its necessary support spaces including green room, dressing rooms, public lobby, ticketing, and backstage support.