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Important projects at Yale shine spotlight on Eero Saarinen

November 20, 2009

With 2010 being the centennial year of Eero Saarinen’s birth (1910–1961), Yale University is making certain that its three Saarinen-designed buildings are up to a standard that would make the architect–and class of ’34 alum-proud if he were alive today. Saarinen’s David S. Ingalls Rink (1956)–informally known as the “Yale Whale” thanks to its signature humpbacked roof and arching 300-foot backbone–reopened in October after a major restoration and enhancement carried out by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates.

The work included upgrades to the original structure’s lighting, seating, and ice surface, and restoration of its wooden benches and exterior doors, as well as the creation of a 12,700-square-foot underground addition and new landscaping around the building.

Well underway is the renovation of Saarinen’s Samuel Morse College while work on its companion building, Ezra Stiles College, is set to begin next spring. The two colleges were conceived as a single design and intended to be radically different in style from Yale’s other colleges. Completed in 1962, the 250,000-square-foot complex houses 500 undergraduates, as well as masters students, deans and faculty. Directed by the Philadelphia-based firm of Kieran Timberlake, the scope of work retains Saarinen’s original aesthetic while encompassing major renovation work and upgrades of key interior spaces, as well as a new addition for food services.

In February 2010, the projects described above will come full circle as the exhibition “Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future”–currently at the Museum of the City of New York–concludes its tour at the Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale School of Architecture. It is relevant to note that Yale is home to the Eero Saarinen Archive, the largest and most comprehensive collection of Saarinen’s papers.

David S. Ingalls Rink at Yale University
© Courtesy Yale University