Gathering a Building

Gathering a Building uses archival and original documentation to analyze social, physical, historical, and artistic aspects of two new residential colleges currently under construction on Yale’s campus. The project site, which will fully launch in Fall 2017, consists of four parts: Site History, Architecture and Urbanism, Material Journeys, People and Building. 
For an early look at the site, visit:
Join the Digital Humanities Lab for a public talk by PI Gideon Fink Shapiro on October 10 at 2:00pm in Sterling Memorial Library, 316. For more information, please visit the event page.

Site History

Through maps and other archival documents, this section explores how the land on which the new colleges are being built has changed over time. Once a nameless field abutting the town cemetery, a wood, and a marshy depression that became a canal and then a railroad, it came to hold several notable buildings in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, some of them university-affiliated. Yale’s decision to start from scratch in constructing the new residential colleges introduces an architectural coherence that has never before existed in this part of New Haven.

Architecture and Urbanism

The new colleges expand upon the architectural tradition established by James Gamble Rogers at Yale’s Memorial Quadrangle (1917-1921), as well as more distant and more immediate references. In addition, the colleges represent a new chapter in the shifting boundaries of campus and city. This section uses the considerable research already done on Yale’s campus architecture to contextualize the new designs by the office of Robert A.M. Stern and examine how architecture affects the urban fabric of New Haven.

Material Journeys

No less than the ingredients on one’s dinner plate, each building material or component can be traced back through a chain of suppliers, fabricators, and producers, revealing both economic and ecological processes. This section seeks to map the journeys of several architectural materials, revealing wider geographies set in motion by the process of building.

People and Building

The story of a building is in part composed of the stories of the people who make it, occupy it, maintain it, and otherwise find their lives affected by it. Research on life in and around Yale’s older residential colleges will serve as a framework for original interviews and oral histories with architects, students, university officials, builders, facilities staff, and New Haven residents to find out what the new residential colleges mean to them.
For more on the project's underlying code, check out the Yale DHLab's GitHub repo!

Project Team

Digital Humanities Lab
Last modified: 
Thursday, October 5, 2017 - 12:11pm