Essential Architecture- New England

Art & Architecture Building, Yale U.


Paul Rudolph


New Haven, CT




Brutalist  Corbusian


ribbed, bush-hammered, concrete


  a: distant view, photo 1971, J. Nicholais (Drexel U.). and b: close angle, photo 1982, M. Brack.
  c: close view, photo 1971, J. Nicholais (Drexel U.) and entrance, photo 1971, M. Clausen.
  d exterior detail, photo 1971, J. Nicholais (Drexel U.).
  e: exterior surfaces, photo 1971, J. Nicholais (Drexel U.).
  f: interior, photo 1971, J. Nicholais (Drexel U.).
The Yale Art and Architecture Building is one of the best known examples of Brutalist Architecture in the United States.

Designed by architect Paul Rudolph and completed in 1963, the complex building contains over thirty floor levels in its seven stories. The building is made of ribbed, bush-hammered, concrete. When the architecture building first opened, it was praised widely by critics and academics, and received several prestigious awards, including the Award of Honor by the American Institute of Architects. As time went by the reaction to the building became more negative. A large fire in 1969 caused extensive damage and during the repairs, many changes were made to Rudolph's original design. Some have claimed that the fire was the result of arson committed by a disgruntled student, but this charge has remained unproven.

In more recent years there has been an increased appreciation of the structure. The School of Art moved out to its own structure and the edifice is undergoing an addition and renovation with the intent of restoring it to the design originally envisioned by Rudolph.

This commission was given to Gwathmey, Siegel, and Associate Architects, of which Charles Gwathmey is a Yale Alumnus. Previous renovation schemes have been commissioned by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, Richard Meier, and Beyer Blinder Belle.

The renewed structure will restore the rooftop penthouse, a dismantled student lounge, and previously destroyed bridges and will be adjoined to a new Art History department.

Society of Architectural Historians

Special thanks to the Society of Architectural Historians
for some of the images on this page (copyright SAH).