Yale SOM to Build Cutting-Edge New Campus

The lagging economy has put some important university expansion projects on hold, but Yale’s School of Management (SOM) will get its new campus, Yale Daily News reports. The London-based architecture firm Foster + Partners unveiled plans this week for the 246,000-square-foot complex, which will be built at the intersection of Sachem Street and Whitney Avenue, and, officials hope, will be completed by autumn 2011.

image by Foster + Partners
image by Foster + Partners

Norman Foster’s sleek glass design is meant to echo SOM’s cutting-edge curriculum and the school’s emphasis on transparency by making “its internal organization externally explicable,” he is quoted as saying.

“We thought SOM was an opportunity to showcase contemporary architecture, but also to give expression to a 21st-century conception of management studies,” university president Richard Levin told the Yale Daily News. The campus will more than double the school’s physical footprint to allow for an expansion of enrollment to about 300 students per class, up more than a hundred from this year’s incoming class.

The fact is, the school needs the new complex to stay competitive with other top business schools. In September, Stanford Business School broke ground on its new 360,000-square-foot business campus, the Knight Management Center, named after Nike Inc. founder and chairman Philip H. Knight. Harvard Business School, meanwhile, added its own ambitious expansion in 2001 with its Robert A.M. Stern-designed Spangler Campus Center.

With the eroding economic climate and sudden resignation of dean Joel Podolny, a fantastic fundraiser, in October, many wondered whether the project would be temporarily shelved or scrapped altogether. But SOM dean Sharon Oster and Levin affirm that the university remains committed to the project.  “The issue is that we’ve chosen a very elegant, high-end architect and he’s designed us a very elegant, high-end building,” Oster said. “It would be a mistake to try and nickel and dime the project.”

Payment for the project will likely come in large part from naming rights for the new complex, which are expected to fetch $100 million, though Oster said the name of the school itself will not be changed.

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