Yale Center for British Art

  • Caption
    Northwest elevation, close view
    8/15/2008 (creation)
Related person
Louis Isidore Kahn (was created by)
1969-1974 (creation)
North and Central America->United States->Connecticut->New Haven
Located across the street from his first major commission, the Yale University Art Gallery (1953), the Yale Center is Kahn's final work and was completed after his death in 1974. It was the first museum in the United States to incorporate retail shops in its design. The Center's exterior of matte steel and reflective glass confers a monumental presence in downtown New Haven. The geometrical, four-floor interior is designed around two courtyards and is comprised of a restrained palette of natural materials (travertine marble, white oak, and Belgian linen). Kahn succeeded in creating intimate galleries where one can view objects in diffused natural light. He wanted to allow as much daylight as possible to enjoy the collection, with artificial illumination used only on dark days or in the evening. The building's design, materials, and sky-lit rooms combine to provide an environment for the works of art that is simple and dignified. It received the AIA Twenty-Five Year Award in 2004. The Yale Center for British Art was erected to house the largest, most comprehensive collection of British art outside the U.K (donated and endowed by Paul Mellon). - Yale Center for British Art
Paul Mellon donated his extensive British art collection to the University in 1965 along with funding to purchase property, construct a building to house the collection, and endow its support.
In 1969 Louis I. Kahn was chosen as architect. The Yale Center for British Art was Kahn's last project.
When Kahn died in March of 1974, the Center had been under construction for 1.5 years. Pellecchia and Meyers, successor architects, oversaw the completion of the building.
"The Center as finally built is a four-story steel and glass building on a double-court plan, with commercial shops at street level along Chapel and High Streets. It is developed on a module of twenty-foot square bays, the rectangular building extends for ten bays along Chapel Street and six bays in depth. A sunken courtyard to the west between the Center and the Yale Repertory Theatre has perimeter commercial space for a restaurant. Parking for the public is available behind the building." -- p.43 Prown, J.D. (1977). The Architecture of the Yale Center for British Art. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University.
Modernist (AAT)
steel: matte steel
oak paneled inserts
Prown, J.D. (1977). The Architecture of the Yale Center for British Art. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University. fig. 1.