Eero Saarinen Morse Colleges

Source: Hidden ArchitecturePhotography: Benjamin PollakLocation: New Haven, EEUUYear: 1961
Date: February 15, 2024 Category: Classic

The Stiles and Morse Colleges, by Eero Saarinen, was designed and built between 1957 and 1961 on the campus of Yale University in New Haven. The colleges are located in a complex site with a round street on the north and a series of buildings in the south. Eero Saarinen’s solution is to create an oval-shaped garden facing the round street, where most of the dorms face.

This garden opens into an alley or a corridor that connects the building with the Humanities quadrangle in the south. This solution creates four types of open spaces around the building: the aforementioned oval garden, two small private gardens on the east and west (each of them for a different college), and a garden in the south that organizes the different circulations of the adjacent buildings and pedestrian streets.

Saarinen’s project creates a material and formal dialogue with the campus buildings, not just with the ones that share the block but also with the general aesthetic of the university. First, the complex is partially symmetrical, continuing with the aesthetic of some university neogothic buildings; Second, two towers match the proportions of the Sterling library, gymnasium building, and other colleges.

Moreover, the buildings used a brown concrete material with stone aggregated in some parts that matched the typical colors of the adjacent buildings. It seems Saarinen does not pretend to compete in height or with an exaggerated formal shape but reinterprets the college typology with a contemporary language.

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