Captain Kirk would be pleased—and befuddled, bemused and bewildered.
The newest version of the Starship Enterprise formally opened today (Jan. 9) as the new home of Yale University’s School of Management. It is an ultra-modern structure that gleams rich blue colors, features mountains of reflective glass, and boasts some of the most magnificent curves ever seen in a building.
It is bigger than anything Captain Kirk has flown. The centerpiece of the 240,000-square-foot building is an expansive courtyard surrounded by a glass facade that allows people to see from one area to another across the campus. It features 16 classrooms, 22 breakout rooms, three library spaces, 13 interview rooms, and office space for some 120 faculty and 195 staffers.
FROM STATELY MANSIONS TO 4 MILLION POUNDS OF STEEL & 16 MILLION POUNDS OF CONCRETE
To complete the $243 million building that would replace the school’s stately mansions on Hillhouse Ave., it took four million pounds of steel, 16.2 million pounds of concrete, 2.25 million pounds of glass for the exterior facade alone, along with 123 miles of copper wire and 500 doors—not to mention the money of 1,400 individuals, 1,300 of them SOM alums.
Architecturally, it may not exactly blend in with the red brick college and secret courtyards and gardens of Yale University. Some professors, who had moved into the structure in mid-December, were already complaining about the heat from the sun that streams into the building’s south side during the day. Others say they miss the creaky charm of the old Victorian homes.
If the building has a visible flaw, it is where SOM has placed its office of admissions. The staff whose job it is to welcome and greet applicants is hidden in a corner of the first floor, behind the most unflattering steel door, an entryway that is more appropriate for a fire escape. By mere location, it seems the most unwelcoming admissions office of any major business school in the world. The school says that applicants will be greeted at a table in the lobby of the building.
A BOLD SYMBOL OF THE SCHOOL’S AMBITION TO BE THE FIRST GLOBAL B-SCHOOL IN THE U.S.
Still, the complete structure, erected on a 4.25-acre plot at 165 Whitney Avenue, is nothing less than a stunning work of contemporary art in and of itself. It is also a bold symbol of the school’s ambition to be the first global business school in the U.S., a strategy launched by new Dean Edward “Ted” Snyder. “I think of this as a high point event in the school’s history,” said Snyder, who was recruited to Yale after successful deanships at the University of Chicago’s Booth School and the University of Virginia’s Darden School. “High point events give an institution a sense of what it is and what it can be.”
“Breathtaking” is how Yale University President Peter Salovey describes the new facility. When Salovey and his wife snuck into the then empty and quiet building during the Christmas break for an early glimpse, he said the emotions he felt were “jealousy and envy.”
And yet Salovey was not able to take the new technology in the building for a test drive. He could not try out the high-definition video conferencing and student microphones with on/off switches in every classroom that allows lectures and class discussions to be beamed around the world. He couldn’t use the custom faculty lecterns with the tilted 3M flat screens that even include a cup holder for a professor’s coffee. And he couldn’t test the wireless screen sharing in the breakout rooms and classes that will allow students to mirror their laptop or smartphone screens on a large screen when collaborating with each other.
For all the modern gadgetry in the shiny new building, the person who stole the show at the school’s opening was a 99-year-old man in a three-piece gray suit who was pushed on stage in a wheelchair. William Beinecke, who has been called the founder of the school, received a standing ovation for a compelling speech he read aloud in the school’s new 350-seat auditorium.