Breaking ground for a new era of graduate student housing at Yale

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Pictured are (from left) graduate students Elizabeth Salm, Elizabeth Mo, Nicholas Vincent, and Wendy Xiao; Graduate School Dean Lynn Cooley; President Peter Salovey; Secretary and Vice President for Student Life Kimberly Goff-Crews; Vice President for New Haven and State Affairs and Campus Development Bruce Alexander; graduate students Alex Zhang and Bryan Yoon; and Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway. (Photo by Michael Marsland)

The future of graduate student housing at Yale took a major step forward on Aug. 24 with purposeful words and a few carefully placed shovels.

Students and university leaders gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony at 272 Elm St., where 41 two-bedroom residential units with kitchens are expected to be ready for the fall 2018 semester. The common areas in the residential parts of the six-story building will include an entry archway and lobby, a graduate reading room, a fitness room, a terrace, and a courtyard. The site is currently a parking lot.

“We want to create the best possible environment in which our students can thrive,” said Yale President Peter Salovey. “This building will become home to 82 students.”

Salovey and other officials noted the collaborative nature of the project, which has had input from graduate and professional student groups and city officials, as well as the Yale administration. Students from the Graduate and Professional Student Advisory Committee on Housing, the Graduate and Professional Student Senate, and the Graduate Student Assembly have been crucial participants in the planning and design of the new project, officials said.

“Where our students live is an integral part of their graduate experience at Yale,” said Graduate School Dean Lynn Cooley. “We want them to feel connected to other students, to Yale, and to the community.”

Cooley pointed out that about 80% of Yale’s graduate and professional students live in apartments off campus, while 20% live in university housing.

Several of those in attendance at the ceremony talked about the advantageous location of the new building. It will be in the heart of New Haven’s downtown, close to the Broadway shopping district. “It gives students an opportunity to live in a building that’s central in terms of both the university and New Haven,” said Nicholas Vincent, chair of the Graduate Student Assembly.

Wendy Xiao, vice chair of the Graduate Student Assembly, said the influence of students on the project has been particularly gratifying — starting with initial surveys that showed students prefer apartment living and updated amenities. “We had a good deal of input in the design of the apartment structure,” Xiao said.

Site clearing and preparation work for the project began in July. The main excavation will begin in mid-October, followed by the completion of construction in June 2018.

The residential units will occupy the top four floors of the building. The first two floors will be retail space.

Salovey said he is looking forward to seeing the deeper connections that students will create with each other and with their surrounding neighborhood at the new project. “All of these are good things that will serve our students well, our university well, and our host city well,” he said.

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