Yale Names Architect for Art School Building

The office of Deborah Berke Architect has been selected to design a building for Yale University’s School of Art, to be located at 1156 Chapel St. The site, formerly occupied by the Jewish Community Center, was purchased by the University in December 1996. The project is expected to be completed by the spring of 1999.

Ms. Berke is an associate professor of architectural design at Yale, where she has been on the faculty since 1987.

Yale University President Richard C. Levin notes, “Deborah Berke’s familiarity with the Yale School of Art and its relationship to New Haven, her sensitivity to the context of the spaces she designs, and her celebration of the beauty of everyday materials combine to make her the ideal choice for this project. We are eagerly looking forward to her creative assistance in breathing new life into the abandoned building at 1156 Chapel Street.”

“The Yale University School of Art is extremely lucky to have Deborah Berke as architect for the new quarters of the School of Art,” says Richard Benson, dean of the school. “Her deep understanding of the nature of working environments, and her brilliant use of sound and functional materials will ensure that our new home can serve generations of artists who come to Yale for their undergraduate or professional education in this vital field.”

Diana E. E. Kleiner, deputy provost for the arts, says, “Deborah Berke’s distinctive minimalist style and profound knowledge of the programmatic needs of Yale’s School of Art make her the ideal architect for 1156 Chapel Street. Ms. Berke will be able to translate the School’s aspirations into a great work of architecture.”

“I think Deborah’s approach to architecture indicates that she is extremely well suited to the work at hand – converting the old J.C.C. building into the School of Art,” says Fred Koetter, dean of the School of Architecture at Yale. “She is able to work so the architecture does not overwhelm either the intentions or the use of the building. She puts the setting at the service of the users, providing a useful and often inspired environment.”

The office of Deborah Berke Architect, launched in 1982, has earned numerous honors, including the Record House 1993 Award from “Architectural Record”; the Honor Award from “Southern Living” in 1991; and the Merit Award from the American Wood Council Design Awards Program. Her designs include single family homes and retail buildings in the planned community of Seaside, Florida, as well as commercial projects such as the New York City fashion photography studio, Industria Superstudio; Battery Park City Parks Corporation Headquarters; and CK Calvin Klein, Worldwide, New York City . In addition, her office has collaborated with the Fund for New York City Public Education in the renovation of more than 150 public elementary school libraries.

Ms. Berke is vice president of the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and a senior fellow of the National Institute for Architectural Education. A member of both the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards and the American Institute of Architects, she has served on many architectural juries. In addition to her academic appointment at Yale, she has taught at Rhode Island School of Design, the University of Maryland, and the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies.

Ms. Berke holds bachelor degrees in fine arts and architecture from Rhode Island School of Design and earned a master of urban planning in urban design degree from the City University of New York.

Current plans for the School of Art include classrooms, studios, offices, and exhibition and performance space. Approximately 120 graduate students, 90 faculty and staff, and 350 undergraduate students who take studio art classes each semester will use the facility. The School of Art is currently located in Yale’s Art and Architecture Building at the corner of Chapel and York streets.

In addition to the Art and Architecture Building, Yale’s arts complex near the intersection of Chapel and York streets in New Haven includes the Yale University Art Gallery, the Center for British Art, the Yale Repertory Theatre, the School of Drama, the University Theatre and the History of Art Department. Yale launched a major study of the facilities that hold its world-class art schools and galleries two years ago to determine how best to repair, modify or add to the complex. Planning for physical improvements to other components of the Yale arts complex is ongoing.

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Media Contact

Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325