Yale students build second affordable home in New Haven’s West River Neighborhood

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Fifty-two students in the Yale School of Architecture worked on the Jim Vlock First Year Building Project on Winthrop Ave. in New Haven, which will be dedicated in a ceremony on Oct. 5 at 5:30 p.m.

Yale School of Architecture students and faculty, city officials, and community partners will gather on Monday, Oct. 5 to dedicate a new home designed and built by Yale students as part of the Jim Vlock First Year Building Project, a program committed to providing affordable housing in New Haven.

The reception will take place at the house — located at 193 Winthrop Ave. — from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Unique among architecture schools, the Jim Vlock First Year Building Project, which began in 1967, gives Yale students an opportunity to design and build a house in an economically challenged neighborhood in New Haven. The program is mandatory for all first-year graduate students in YSoA, many who arrive at Yale with a special interest in socially responsible design.

This year, students were tasked with designing a 1,000-square-foot-home on a corner lot in the city’s West River neighborhood. One of the key criteria for the design was that it be a cost-efficient and flexible prototype that is easy to replicate in New Haven.

Students broke into eight teams to work on simultaneous proposals throughout their second semester. A panel of faculty, with input from guest jurors and students, selected the final design.

“The biggest design challenge was the site itself, which is a corner lot. We needed to formally address both sides of the lot to claim the exposed corner, while still defining secluded exterior spaces,” said Tess McNamara M.Arch/FES ’18, one of two project managers along with fellow student Alexander Kruhly M.Arch ’17.

Students broke into eight teams to work on simultaneous proposals throughout their second semester. The winning design addressed the challenges of building on a corner lot.

The entire class of 52 students worked on building the house on Winthrop through the end of June. A crew of 14 interns and four teaching assistants continued to work full-time over the summer.

“It’s an incredibly formative experience for us to work on the building project. You gain an entirely new understanding of architecture when you are actively involved in the construction process,” said Kruhly. “We all appreciate the opportunity to hopefully provide good design to a segment of the population often neglected by the design community.”

According to the students, neighbors near the corner lot at the intersection of Winthrop Avenue and Scranton Street have regularly stopped by the site throughout construction. Many remember last year’s home, built only 300 feet away at 179 Scranton St., and are pleased to see the new development in the neighborhood.

For the second consecutive year, the YSoA is partnering with Neighbor Works New Horizons of New Haven, an organization committed to affordable housing, and HTP Ventures LLC, a private equity firm interested in mass-producing micro dwelling units. A number of sponsors provided labor and parts for the project, such as the site excavation, plumbing, and drywall.

Throughout the year, students have worked closely with YSoA critic Adam Hopfner, who has been director of the Jim Vlock First Year Building Project since 2007. Critics Kyle Bradley and Alan Organschi are the project’s assistant director and studio coordinator, respectively, and architects Peter de Bretteville, Trattie Davies, Amy Lelyveld, Joeb Moore, and Herbert Newman served as critics for the design competition.

Jim Vlock First Year Building Project homes from recent years can be found at 179 Scranton St. (2014); 32 Lilac St. (2013); 132-136 Newhall St. (2012); 456 Orchard St. (2011), and 12 King Pl. (2010). Those interested in seeing the progress of this year’s design and construction can follow the project on Tumblr and Instagram.

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Media Contact

Amy Athey McDonald: amy.mcdonald@yale.edu,