Jonathan Edwards Under Renovation, Calhoun Next on the List

Architects are finalizing plans to renovate Calhoun College during the 2008–2009 academic year.

Yale College leads the nation in undergraduate education, a distinction that depends as much on what happens outside the classroom as inside. A rich extra-curriculum, ample opportunity to interact with faculty and classmates, and dormitory facilities that support the way undergraduates live and learn—these are all central elements of the Yale experience.

In June, Jonathan Edwards College (JE) took steps to invigorate this experience as the ninth of Yale’s residential colleges to embark on a yearlong renovation. Its students reported this fall to the swing dorm, where they will live for the duration of the project. The renovation is part of a phased program to upgrade all twelve of the residential colleges.

Calhoun College, the next in line, is slated to close for a top-to-bottom refurbishment in 2008–2009. The New Haven firm of Herbert S. Newman & Partners is the architect for both projects.

Collaborative process involves masters, students

Since 1998, the University has invested more than $500 million in life-cycle upgrades of its colleges, modernizing decades-old buildings and outfitting them for another forty to sixty years of use. Each project has replaced key building systems and reconfigured spaces to meet the changing needs of a diverse student body. To date, the program has renovated Berkeley, Branford, Saybrook, Timothy Dwight, Pierson, Davenport, Trumbull, and Silliman.

“This is an exciting time for our students and for Yale as well,” said Gary Haller, master of Jonathan Edwards College. “Our challenge is to carry on the best of our college traditions, while equipping JE for a new century of undergraduate living.” To accomplish this goal, the architect sought input from the students, dean, and Haller before deciding on what changes to make to the college, originally constructed in 1932.

“We have all been part of the process. This will certainly add to our sense of pride when the renovation is complete,” Haller said.

Calhoun Master Jonathan Holloway is already looking ahead to the rebuilding of his college next year. Completed in 1933, Calhoun was renovated in the 1980s with the support of alumni and friends. These changes sustained the college’s vitality for the past twenty years and will be leveraged forward as the college is fortified for the future. “It is a testament to the University’s commitment to completing a successful renovation that both faculty and students were invited to participate in this process,” Holloway said. “The renovations have allowed us to think about how we can revitalize our college, and even more importantly, brought us closer together as members of the Calhoun College community.”

Renovations bring new life to residential colleges

Far more than dormitories, the residential colleges serve as home to a population of students selected for their breadth of talent and intellectual curiosity. Yale strives to cultivate this curiosity and offers expansive opportunities within the colleges for both academic and extracurricular interests. This mission is foremost in the renovation plans for both Jonathan Edwards and Calhoun.

Renovations will enhance administrative offices for the deans and masters, as well as offices for faculty fellows, reinforcing links between scholarly and residential life. Academic space—libraries, computer rooms, and seminar rooms—will be improved, as will common spaces that encourage a collegial social environment. In both colleges, for example, kitchen operations have been fully moved to the basements, capturing space to enlarge and improve serveries and remove servery equipment from the main dining halls.

Other common areas in both colleges, including bright and comfortable basement facilities, will be reconfigured into dedicated spaces for intensive study, social interaction, and artistic and athletic pursuits. Designed with today’s students and faculty in mind, these rooms will also include infrastructure for computers, new media, and wireless Internet access.

Each renovation emphasizes spaces that reflect the unique interests of the students. When JE re-opens its doors, students will have access to a new dance studio, woodshop, printing press, and art gallery. At Calhoun, activity rooms will feature a digital media center, game/TV room, fitness room, tutor room, art studio, and wireless lounge.

The renovations will also help to meet an ever-present demand for undergraduate performance space. Jonathan Edwards will have a new fifty-seat theater, and Calhoun’s cabaret space will be enlarged and equipped with comfortable café seating, sound system, and theatrical lighting. Bringing together extraordinary undergraduate talent, the cabaret and theater will offer space for performances, open-mic nights, and concerts.

Donors essential to the college experience

Designed to expose students to a variety of different people and experiences, the residential colleges have served as an extension of Yale’s academic life since the 1930s. Now, after more than seventy years of life, the renovations are bringing new energy to the colleges with contemporary features for 21st century living and learning.

Donor support plays a critical role in achieving a new vision for the residential colleges. Moving forward, renovations to Jonathan Edwards and Calhoun will figure prominently as fund raising priorities. To learn about giving opportunities in the colleges, or to review floor plans, please visit the Gift Guide.

(November 1, 2007)

November 1, 2007