Yale University, Hall of Graduate Studies

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Project Summary

Project: Humanities Quadrangle, Center for the Humanities, Yale University

Location: New Haven, Connecticut

Historic Designation: Historic Buildings of Connecticut

Noteworthy: Removal, restoration, refinishing and reinstallation of 275 oak-paneled doors, included removing the upper wood panels to allow for custom-designed patterned glass inserts that allow more natural light to enter.

Award: Excellence in Planning Award for a District or Campus Component from the Society for College and University Planning.

Scope: Restoration of 275 original oak-paneled doors glazed with new custom patterned glass, restoration of the historic spaces: classrooms, meeting rooms, lobbies, halls, stairs, and atria, and installation of eight huge new exterior entries and loggia to the main buildings.

Owner: Yale University

Architect: Ann Beha Architects

General Contractor: Skanska USA Building Co.

Introduction

Yale University received an anonymous gift of $50 million toward the renovation of the Hall of Graduate Studies, a significant project to transform the historic structure into the Center for the Humanities on Yale’s campus.

“Yale has so many outstanding departments and programs in the humanities and bringing a core group of them into one building at the heart of campus will make them even stronger.”

President Peter Salovey ’86 Ph.D.

“The building is an emblem of how important it is to support the forefront of humanities scholarship. Nearly everywhere you look in this refurbished building you see a space to be in conversation with others. So much consideration was given to making this space a place of learned interaction. It is a building unusually sensitive to the social work of knowledge.”

Kathryn Lofton
Dean of Humanities for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Lex Hixon Professor of Religious Studies and American Studies

Work Completed by M&A

From our first mobilization in the fall of 2018 to the finishing touches in the spring of 2021, both the magnitude of scope and the effects of the pandemic were major challenges for M&A.

Following are highlights of this significant project:

  • Restoration of the 10-foot octagonal radiator panels in the historic Fellows Hall was a small part of the whole project but major effort in our shop. We reworked them not only to be structurally stable but to accommodate the new radiators and grilles. Our shop craftspeople had to disassemble top, front, sides and base, replace hidden and visible components, and refit to allow for new grilles and the expanded radiator sizes. The units were shop-assembled before careful disassembly and packaging to the return to Yale.
  • Coordination of the removal, restoration, and reinstallation of all 275 interior doors to meet the construction manager’s schedule as work proceeded from the top to the bottom of each building throughout the quadrangle. Many doors were to become glazed, as part of the overall lighting strategy for the project, but instead of replacing those doors, we were able to remove the top four oak panels of each door, replacing each wood panel with a pane of custom patterned glass, each ordered to size for the different door configurations.
  • Throughout the historic spaces, the rooms have ornate and uniquely significant carvings in the gothic-styled wood paneling, and where the room configurations were modified for more commodious public spaces, M&A was tasked with modifying the panels to the new configuration, which included blending new panel components and carvings into the reworked space.
  • During the construction, Yale expanded the scope of work to include eight magnificent new wood entries with sidelights. M&A was honored to be part of the design and planning for the entries and to furnish and install them. These gothic arched entries, all fully glazed and with floor-to-ceiling sidelights, connect the previously separate buildings in the quadrangle, so that the entire quadrangle is navigable through a heated, sunlit space without having to step outside.

“From project inception to delivery” is a common phrase in construction management, usually referring to schedule and budget. For our hardworking and talented crew of preservation carpenters, it meant a lot more. The same crew of carpenters who removed the doors and paneling from the historic spaces and restored them in our shop was there for the final reinstallations. It was the completion of a major restoration that we expect to last for another century of use.

M&A prides itself on being a collaborative and pro-active part of every project team, and we are especially pleased to have participated in this project which has transformed the entire quadrangle into a collaborative space for the study of the humanities.

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