Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP

Yale University History of Art & Arts Library Building

New Haven, Connecticut

2001 - 2004

The proposed new building for the Department of the History of Art and for an expanded Arts Library is located adjacent to the Art and Architecture Building by Paul Rudolph of 1963. The two will be closely interconnected, and this integration reflects the time-honored interaction between the arts and architecture. Encompassing a total gross area of some 175,000 square feet, the new building rises seven floors above the street and has two levels below grade, following the sectional precedent of the Rudolph building.

A top-lit atrium, which accommodates the main reading room of the expanded Arts Library, connects the two buildings. It occupies a void adjacent to the existing structure, which Rudolph had envisioned as a courtyard in the potential expansion of his building. While the principal entrance is located in the new building, the original entry into the Rudolph building will be maintained with direct access into the original northeastern stair/elevator tower or indirect access up the adjacent grand staircase.

The ground floor is mainly given over to the reference library, but it also provides an auxiliary semi-public element, a small exhibition space and a café close to the main entrance. There are two lecture halls in the lowest level of the new building, which, together with Hastings Hall in the basement of the Rudolph building, constitute the new lecture complex.

The new building juxtaposes a small number of enclosed volumes – faculty offices and seminar rooms – with expansive spaces mostly clad in either translucent or transparent glass. In contrast to the “corduroy” concrete of the Rudolph building, the curtain walls and glass roofs of the new building act as membranes filtering natural light into the structure and creating a variety of light conditions according to the time of day and the season.

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