For Handsome Dan, a place of his own

Shelby Wright, Phil Bernstein, Christine Song, Deborah Berke, and Handsome Dan.
(Photos by Dan Renzetti)

Yale’s biggest campus celebrity has a new place to hang out.

On Oct. 14, Yale’s live bulldog mascot, Handsome Dan, took occupancy of a custom doghouse in the courtyard of the Yale Visitor Center, where he passes much of each workday.

Dan spends a lot of time in center offices and in the lounge, and we love having him around,” said center Director Nancy Franco. “But we felt he also ought to have a space entirely his own.”

The design for the 10-square-foot doghouse emerged last spring from a weekend-long student competition jointly organized by the center and the School of Architecture. Participants were invited to propose designs that would comfortably accommodate a 70-pound dog of at least 20 inches in height, leaving room for Dan to grow. (Handsome Dan XIX is ten months old.) The budget for the project was $1,000.

A four-person jury — Deborah Berke, dean of the Yale School of Architecture; Phil Bernstein, YSA associate dean; Franco; and Nate Nickerson, vice president for communications — selected the winning design, by Shelby Wright ’21 M.Arch. and Christine Song ’21 M.Arch.

Handsome Dan on top of his new doghouse.

The judges also chose two runners-up: “Tetris House” by Yuhan Zhang ’21 M.Arch. I, and “Handsome Dàn House” by Yuyi Shen ’21 M.Arch. II and Yuyi Zhou ‘XX.

With his team, Tim Newton, a member of the architecture school faculty and director of the school’s fabrication shop, built the winning design of plywood and laser-cut Y- and bone-shaped finials and other details. A ramp leads from the doghouse roof, offering Dan an elevated perch for photographs with well-wishers.

The students also designed a pawprint-based Yale shield for Handsome Dan.

Dan, an Olde English Buldogge, will use the doghouse year-round — there’s a radiant heat system beneath the courtyard’s bluestone pavers — but he will not sleep there overnight. He lives with his human handler, Kassie Haro ’18, in her New Haven home.

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