Transforming a windswept collection of multilevel plazas into an accessible and glowing focal point, the 12,200-square-foot Center for Innovative Thinking establishes a space of exchange among Yale’s leading scientists and students from diverse disciplines to create innovative solutions to real world problems. Designed to foster mentorship and collaboration, the Center physically connects students and faculty in a single, centrally located structure.
The oval shape of the Center differentiates itself from the diverse collection of surrounding buildings while also engaging those structures through reflections on its curved glass walls. Alternating between concave and convex curves, the Center becomes a chameleon, referencing and narrating the history of the campus through the surrounding facades. A modern Tempietto, the 22-foot-tall glass panels create uncommon views of the collegiate gothic and brutalist style buildings that frame the courtyard. These curved, structurally self-supporting panels are transparent, encouraging circulation through and around the Center and revealing the ongoing work occurring within. When needed, an automated custom curtain provides protection from glare and introduces a level of intimacy. At night, the building lights up in an inviting saffron glow.
Within the two-story Center, continuous sightlines throughout the open space encourage interdisciplinary discourse. The double height studio, conference and breakout spaces are all within view of each other, creating opportunities for spontaneous discussion and providing a link between public areas and more private spaces for concentration and collaboration.
In keeping with Yale's commitment to sustainability, the project repurposes the current underused and inaccessible paved plaza into a fully accessible outdoor garden, significantly reducing storm runoff and encouraging activity year-round. The building and the plaza renovation have achieved LEED gold certification. The creation of the Center for Innovative Thinking transforms what was previously inaccessible left-over space into a new interdisciplinary center for unscripted discoveries.
Location: New Haven, CT
Client: Yale University
completion date: August 2020
built area: 11,200 square feet
architects: Weiss/Manfredi Architects
design team: Marion Weiss, Michael Manfredi, partners in charge; Mike Harshman, project manager; Pierre Hoppenot, Bryan Kelley, Dave Maple, Heather McArthur, Catherine Chang Qi, project architects
main contractor: Whiting-Turner
consultants: Lighting Workshop (lighting); WSP (AV/IT, security, sustainability); FRONT (glazing); WSP (m/e/p/fp); Thornton Tomasetti Associates (structural); Langan (civil)
suppliers: Exterior Glazing: North Glass, Massey, Fabbrica; Built-Up Roofing: Sika; Interior Glass: Oldcastle; Building Envelope: TPG; Doors: Dorma, Curries; Paints & Stains: Benjamin Moore; Lighting/Controls: Elliptipar, Edison Price, Bega, Erco, Lutron
WEISS/MANFREDI is a multidisciplinary design firm in New York City known for its dynamic integration of architecture, art, infrastructure, and landscape design. Founded by Marion Weiss and Michael A. Manfredi, their projects include the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle, the Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, the University of Pennsylvania’s Nanotechnology Center, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center, Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park, and the Barnard College Diana Center. They are currently redesigning the United States Embassy campus in New Delhi, India and are designing a new tower for innovative technological research on the University of Toronto’s campus. WEISS/MANFREDI has won numerous awards and their work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Venice Biennale, the Louvre, and the Guggenheim Museum.