Finding Its Center

The Yale Center for British Art restores Louis Kahn’s vision

The Yale Center for British Art is a shell of its former self. The once-open portico at the entrance has been sealed off and replaced by a single small door. The lobby is a construction zone draped in blue tarp. The museum, closed for renovations this past January, will not reopen until spring 2016. As I walk to the front desk, I feel I’m interrupting a work in progress. Stripped down to its steel frame, the YCBA is ready for renewal. The conservation project is. . . Read more
Catie Liu
Built to Last

Chairigami founder Zachary Rotholz ’11 finds himself uncomfortably in the spotlight.

Zachary Rotholz ’11, the 22-year-old who opened a cardboard furniture store on York Street this September, is getting tired of explaining his work to customers. He maintains a friendly and enthusiastic attitude. Yet when he’s asked for what feels like the millionth time, “Is the chair sturdy?” you can hear a bit of fatigue and boredom in his response: “There’s only one way to find out! Try it!” Rotholz explains that he has to sell his products twice. First, he must sell the concept of. . . Read more
Justine Yan
The House That Alice Built

Before women could vote, Alice Washburn was building the most beautiful houses in New Haven and Hamden.

Blueprints of Washburn's houses. Images courtesy the Eli Whitney Museum The houses of Hamden’s Swarthmore Street possess delicate bones. Place them atop poles and each home would look like the finest handmade birdhouse. These colonials and their siblings, over one hundred and ten houses in total, have presided over streets in Hamden, New Haven, and Cheshire since the 1920s, when they were designed and built by Alice Washburn. Washburn began her career as a landscape architect in 1919 at age 49. She had no formal. . . Read more
Juliana Hanle

The place of bicycles among Yale’s Gothic spires.

Elegant and functional. Andrew Nelson Whether you come to belong to a place depends on how you get there.  Sometimes you’re greeted with open arms, and other times—with a bar to the chest. That’s how, until recently, Bass Library greeted bicyclists. “It’s absurd,” she said. “Almost in your face.” The silver-haired woman stared at a bar four inches in diameter and 42 inches from the ground. She had dismounted her bee-yellow Motobecane and, unwilling to lift the bike above her waist, now leaned it against. . . Read more
Andrew McCreary
If These Stone Walls Could Talk

Architecture tells stories.

Architecture tells stories. Architecture tells stories. Before books, buildings, the silent stonework of buildings conveyed elaborate narratives sans words. In churches and cathedrals, sculptures, carvings, and stained glass windows told religious parables to those who couldn’t read or gain access to books. Who needs bound pages when you could have dappled light illuminating characters rendered in marble or limestone? Victor Hugo wrote that before the invention of the printing press, men who were born to be poets became architects. After Gutenberg made the mass production. . . Read more
Cora Lewis
Behind Glass Doors

Reflections on a transparent life.

On a ridge in New Canaan stands a house where the light shoots straight through. This past June, the New York Times dedicated a quarter of its “House & Home” section to this Glass House, a Connecticut landmark in which architect Philip Johnson and his partner David Whitney lived for over half a century. The article, entitled “Behind the Glass Wall: Memories of life and death in an architectural masterwork,” consisted largely of personal accounts from guests Johnson had entertained in the house during the. . . Read more
Emily Koh