Saturday, December 20, 2008
There has been a good deal of attention to the legacy of Paul Rudolph at Yale with the recent restoration of the A+A and an accompanying show MODEL CITY to examine Paul's impact there. Tucked in a corner and around a new handicapped ramp in the gallery are a model, photos and drawings for Greeley Labs, a 1959 Laboratory designed in memory of William B. Greeley, former chief of the U.S. Forest Service. Intended for research in "forest biology, and wood technology" and with dedicated space for graduate instruction, the building would not pass muster with most current Foresters for its unsustainability- it is chock full of "five kinds of wood veneer...Honduras and Philippine mahogany, oak, black walnut, and cherry". Nestled in a remote area of campus, its protected by student housing and green houses.
Despite the fanfare for the return of the Paprika carpet to York Street, the Greeley Labs, long idle, are getting a remake of their own, but unfortunately that means the removal of original interiors and woodblock flooring.
Underused, many students note they have never had classes in the building, and with KROON HALL, a new School of Forestry and Environmental Studies Facility designed by Hopkins Architects out of London, closer to campus, current students feel its obsolescence: 'Forestry is not about just studying plants anymore, we are concerned with climate change, developing nations, transportation...issues that weren't at the forefront in 1959'.
Yale's Facilities makes no note of the current renovation work on their FACILITIES WEBSITE but a quick look at the YALE UNIVERSITY FRAMEWORK FOR CAMPUS PLANNING by Cooper, Robertson & Partners shows future uncertainty. Marked as an "Open Space" Site (versus a "Development Site" it is also earmarked as #1 on their list for redevelopment under their INITIATIVES section, as it is included within the Marsh Botanical Gardens scope.
While the building has been adapted over the years, as seen below in an improvised technology retrofit, many of the changes buried the ideas of openness, clerestories and ubiquitous light, making the current experience tired and dreary.
Although filled and painted, the Y-shaped columns (What a great branding opportunity for the school!) were intended as defining elements to throw shadows but also support the 100' x 164' roof over this one story pavilion. Built on a dense base marble chip base, Rudolph manages to level the sloping site, while creating a footing in the Z direction in lieu of his radiating diagonals usually projected in the X-Y coordinates, a common tool for Rudolph to remove his work from its earthly context.
(Greeley Labs, Left; A + A, Right)
Greeley Labs is a small project amidst Paul's oeuvre, but a good study piece for what his career would go on to produce.
Lets hope that Yale follows its own example and continues to recognize the riches of its campus as Greeley Labs enters her fiftieth year in 2009!