Yale School of Architecture and Columbus House dedicate New Haven home

A rendering of a two-family house in New Haven.
A rendering of the two-family house on Adeline Street in New Haven that was designed by students at the Yale School of Architecture.

Students of the Yale School of Architecture (YSoA) will unveil a two-family house in New Haven that was built as part of the Jim Vlock First Year Building Project at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 2.

The house, sited on a formerly vacant corner lot on Adeline Street, will feature two units that are separated by a walkway, but under the same roof, and adorned with large windows that balance the needs of openness and privacy.

This year’s Jim Vlock First Year Building Project is the first house built as part of a five-year collaboration with Columbus House, a New Haven-based homelessness services provider. Columbus House will select two tenants for the house on Adeline Street: a single tenant for the efficiency unit and a small family for the two-bedroom unit.

The goal of Columbus House is to end homelessness, and we do that by getting people housed,” says Alison Cunningham, CEO of Columbus House. “Every unit that we add toward the affordable housing stock in New Haven helps us come closer to that goal. We are delighted with the house on Adeline Street and with the relationship with Yale School of Architecture that has grown out of this project. The clients identified for the house are thrilled and can’t wait to move in.”

The built environment affects us all,” says Deborah Berke, dean of the School of Architecture. “It is our belief that architects and designers have an important role to play in addressing many of the most vexing issues of our time, including the shortage of affordable housing and making our cities more inclusive. I hope that this project will help further the dialogue around these issues in New Haven. It is an honor to work on this with Columbus House.”

Much of the house — including dormers, window frames, stairs, and cabinetry — was prefabricated in eight-foot modules in a warehouse on Yale’s West Campus, shortening the amount of time needed for construction on site. Prefabrication places a higher premium on planning, and students had to work down to the level of nails and fasteners to address issues that could normally be dealt with in the process of building.

This past spring, teams of students collaborated on different designs for the house, with emphasis on the need to prefabricate at least some components of their projects. One of these teams was then selected to take its design to the next stage: figuring out the various drawings and details that would be needed for construction.

This summer, YSoA first-year students also completed a pavilion on the New Haven Green for the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, to raise awareness around issues of affordable housing and homelessness in collaboration with Columbus House.

This year’s house marks the 50th project built by first-year students in the Yale School of Architecture’s professional degree program. Since it started in 1967, the building project has produced structures for communities around New Haven, including the Bridgeport band shell, pavilions in East Rock Park and Lighthouse Point Park, and since 1989, affordable housing units for over 30 families. “Named in 2009 for Jim Vlock, who had a long-time connection to the School of Architecture and the program, and a deep involvement with the local community, the first-year building project looks forward to another 50 years,” says Berke.

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