Weiss/Manfredi - Yale University Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking, a pavilion that acts as a chameleon
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Yale University Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking, a pavilion that acts as a chameleon


Education  /  Completed

The Center for Innovative Thinking establishes a new home for university wide creative, research-based programs within Yale’s School of Engineering and Applied Science. The center brings together students from diverse disciplines to generate innovative solutions to real world problems. The program, unique to the university, is based around team workshops and courses that allow students to bring their ideas to fruition. The building’s elliptical form becomes a counterpoint to the site, a rectangular courtyard shaped by the backs of six orthogonal structures. Curved transparent glass walls encourage circulation around and into the center, inviting the rest of the university to see and participate in the programs within. Connections between the center and its surroundings create a new accessible circulation route and destination within the engineering precinct on campus. Within the center, continuous sight lines throughout unite spaces of creation and research, supporting interdisciplinary discourse. Open studios, meeting spaces and offices foster opportunities for spontaneous discussion and provide links between public areas and adjacent instructional space. In keeping with Yale’s commitment to sustainability, the project will replace the current underused paved plaza rooftop with a new planted garden encouraging activity year-round. The building and the plaza renovation are currently on track for LEED gold certification. The combination of connectivity, sustainability and new group work spaces establishes the Center for Innovative Thinking as a 24-hour nexus at a strategic location on campus. Currently invisible to campus and city beyond, the paved rooftop ia transformed into a newly legible garden destination for cross disciplinary collaboration. The prow of the pavilion, framed by landmark buildings adjacent, is visible from Prospect Street, announcing the location of the center. The building is located atop an existing plaza roof deck near the center of the Yale Campus between the Becton Center, Dunham Labs, and the Sheffield Sterling Strathcona Building. A collection of leftover back faces of buildings line an empty plaza that forms the site. The area under the plaza is occupied by existing lab space and an auditorium. Continuing a campus tradition of garden courtyards, the center establishes a new pavilion and landscape at the center of the existing plaza. The site renovation work covers approximately 28,000 square feet. The project includes a new two story pavilion (11,100 sf) and approximately 1,100 square feet of renovation to existing lab space below grade. The location of the project presents significant technical challenges. Paving is replaced with planting. Existing structures must be painstakingly renovated and repaired. A new structure of AESS steel columns and castellated beams is carefully distributed to minimize impact on the occupied basement below. The one foot thick concrete retaining walls and twelve foot level changes that currently divide the site are transformed into connective planted berms and accessible walkways. Set in a courtyard defined by Brutalist and Gothic architecture in stone and concrete, the center contrasts the static opacity of masonry with a luminous, energy-efficient glass skin. The curvature of the glass allows it to span 22’-0” vertically with no mullions and maximized transparency. The glass skin’s reflective and transparent quality allows the pavilion to act as a chameleon, mirroring the surroundings and campus activity by day and creating a destination imbued with luminosity at night. With a minimum target of LEED gold, the project continues Yale’s tradition of leadership in sustainability. New planting and a green roof reduce site runoff. Storm retention tanks reduce the impact on city storm systems and provide sufficient water to irrigate new planting. Recycled and local materials are utilized whenever possible. The project makes best use of existing campus hot and cold water, with maximum efficiency radiant heating / cooling systems and daylight harvesting lighting controls to minimize energy use. High efficiency perimeter glazing brings natural light into all workspaces and provides panoramic views. Although the courtyard is in shade throughout most the year, an automated curtain provides protection from glare when needed. The studio loft forms the heart of the program. Designed to maximize flexibility and encourage collaboration, it accommodates a growing program with the ability to evolve to meet educational needs. The multipurpose loft can be used 24 hours a day for individual work, collaborative team projects, lectures and special events. Offices, conference rooms and meeting spaces overlook the studio loft, providing support for ongoing team projects. Visual and physical connections throughout are used to establish links between program components and encourage interdisciplinary discourse. This connectivity encourages the offhand encounters and dialogue that are key to interdisciplinary research. Elliptical group meeting spaces are centered around skylights at each floor level. The stacked skylights create a continuous line of sight between research spaces below the plaza and the sky above. Outdoor seating, gathering spaces and accessible circulation routes support opportunities for spontaneous discussion and provide a link between the center, an existing café adjacent and the campus beyond. Surrounded by a century of buildings with closed offices, labs and classrooms, the new center provides an open collective living room and event space to augment existing programs, creates new partnerships and encourages collaboration between campus constituencie


 New Haven, Connecticut
 United States
 Yale University
 1133 mq
 Weiss/Manfredi Architects
 Design Partners: Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi; Project Manager: Mike Harshman; Core Team: Heather McArthur, Catherine Qi, Bryan Kelley, David Maple


Weiss/Manfredi Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism is at the forefront of architectural design practices that are redefining the relationships between landscape, architecture, infrastructure, and art. The firm has spearheaded various design efforts that require progressive ecological and infrastructural frameworks, placing environmental stewardship and sustainability at the core of Weiss/Manfredi's work. These frameworks support the public-facing nature of the practice’s work, seen in projects like the Olympic Sculpture Park, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center, and Hunter's Point South Waterfront Park. Other built works include the Barnard College Diana Center, Yale University's Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking, the Tata Innovation Center at Cornell Tech, and the Women's Memorial and Education Center at Arlington National Cemetery. Current projects include the Tampa Museum of Art expansion and the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India.


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