Morse and Ezra Stiles Colleges

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Morse and Ezra Stiles Colleges | Notes of Interest

Morse and Ezra Stiles Colleges at Yale University, built in 1962, were among the last works undertaken by Eero Saarinen. This project is the final phase in Yale’s campaign to renovate its twelve residential colleges. There are three major aspects to the renewal: additional student life and activity space to draw Morse and Stiles into parity with the other colleges; reconfiguration of the prevailing courtyard hardscapes into a sustainable landscape dominated by water and greenery; and transformation of the student housing mix from stand-alone single rooms into suites.

Courtyards were modified for recreation, with site walls added to terrace the court and negotiate the grade down to the main entry and dining hall. Wooden terraces extend from each dining hall, with new rain-fed water features. The original libraries and dining halls are fully renovated. Saarinen’s original below-grade common rooms are enlarged and provided with natural illumination through skylights cut into the original ceiling.

A 25,000-square-foot underground addition inserted beneath the crescent courtyard integrates with the original structures. It continues the landscape into, under, and through the architecture, culminating in a sunken courtyard that fills the addition with daylight. A new steel and wood bridge traverses the sunken courtyard on the passageway between the colleges, and concrete underpinnings flanking the addition are expressed in new and old furniture-like blocks.

The work here is surgical, strategic, and subtle and about judgment: what to retain, repair, or restore; what to develop anew. It forms a dialogue of material respect and admiration between old form and new purpose—simultaneous histories making each other richer and better.

Additional Credit

  • Code Consultant: Bruce J. Spiewak, AIA, Consulting Architect, LLC
  • Commissioning Agent: BVH Integrated Services
  • Construction Manager for Construction: Turner Construction Co.
  • Construction Manager for Preconstruction: The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company
  • Cost Estimator: International Consultants, Inc.
  • Elevator Consultant: Van Duesen and Associates
  • Engineer – Civil: URS Corporation
  • Engineer - MEP/FP: AltieriSeborWieber LLC
  • Engineer – Structural: CVM Engineers
  • Environmental Consultant: Atelier Ten
  • Food Service Consultant: Ricca Newmark Design
  • Geotechnical Consultant: Haley & Aldrich, Inc.
  • Geotechnical and Environmental Engineers: URS Corp.
  • Interior Designer: Marguerite Rodgers Ltd.
  • Landscape Architect: OLIN
  • Lighting Consultant: ARUP
  • Signage Consultant: Strong Cohen
  • Specifications Consultant: Wilson Consulting, Inc.
  • Theater Consultant: Theatre Projects Consultants
  • Water Proofing Consultant: Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.

    Photo Credit

      © Peter Aaron/OTTO
      © Richard Barnes/OTTO

Morse and Ezra Stiles Colleges


Jury Comments

A thumbs-up for preserving the work of Saarinen and exploiting the basement space that was originally less desirable without altering the general impression and character of the project.

It is sensitive to the resources and shows real attention to detail—great use of materials, lighting dynamics, and spatial results.

All of the spaces were clearly improved, and the spaces of this two-college complex were connected functionally and agreeably.

The creation of the sunken courtyards and inclusion of skylights were done in very subtle ways, increasing area and allowing additional uses.

More about Morse and Ezra Stiles Colleges.

2013 Institute Honor Awards for Architecture Jury

  • Mary Katherine Lanzillotta, FAIA (Chair)
  • Hartman-Cox Architects, Washington, DC
  • Brian Fitzsimmons, AIA
  • Fitzsimmons Architects, Oklahoma City
  • John Kane, FAIA
  • Architekton, Tempe, Arizona
  • William Leddy, FAIA
  • Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects, San Francisco
  • Philip Loheed, AIA
  • BTA Architects, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Robert Maschke, AIA
  • robert maschke ARCHITECTS inc., Cleveland
  • Douglas L. Milburn, Assoc. AIA
  • Isaksen Glerum Wachter LLC, Urbana, Illinois
  • Becky Joyce Yannes, AIAS Representative
  • Drexel University, Philadelphia

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