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The New Residential Colleges at Yale: A Conversation Across Time

The residential colleges at Yale, modeled after the academic communities at Oxford and Cambridge, are the cornerstone of undergraduate life, breaking down the larger university into smaller, more closely-knit communities. Between the two world wars, under the leadership of architect James Gamble Rogers, ten residential colleges were built, six (as well as many academic buildings) adhering to the Collegiate Gothic style with which Yale is most identified today. Benjamin Franklin College and Pauli Murray College, designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, now join that distinguished group and the conversation Rogers began a century ago with the Memorial Quadrangle and Harkness Tower.

RAMSA was charged with designing buildings that fit into the residential college system, and in so doing say “Yale,” while bringing twenty-first-century standards of communal living and environmental responsibility to college residential life. The two new colleges, housing 450 students each, are conceived as fraternal twins, similar in size but each enjoying its own identity.

Beyond questions related to Yale and New Haven, the book contributes to a wider historical and theoretical conversation about the expression of place, time, and identity through architecture. The design of the new colleges exemplifies the challenges and opportunities involved with practicing traditional architecture as a meditation between past and present in a historically sensitive setting.

An extensive collection of historical photographs, original drawings, models, material samples, and specially commissioned color photography of the new colleges illustrates the story.
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