Page B2.1 . 07 June 2006                     
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    Yale Mod

    by Michael J. Crosbie

    When you hear "modular classroom building," what do you think of? Cheap gray boxes on cinderblocks? Tacky trailers covered with vinyl "brick" siding? Such makeshift classrooms can be seen next to schools and colleges all across the United States temporary solutions to space shortages that seem to hang around for years.

    But a temporary building designed by Mark Simon of Centerbrook Architects offers a lesson in how to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Or, more to the point, a sleek, modern, crisply designed and detailed temporary structure out of off-the-shelf modular components.

    Yale University's political science department is having a permanent new home designed and built. In the meantime, the department needed a headquarters, complete with classrooms, meeting facilities, and faculty offices. Yale didn't want to spend a lot of money on a temporary facility, and time was of the essence.

    Modular construction seemed to be the answer, but the packaged design options were considered abysmal. "Our approach was to be innovative using a standard modular building system," explains Simon. The goal was to achieve as close to a custom building as possible with off-the-shelf parts.

    Custom Prefab

    Centerbrook worked with Carp Building Structures in Milford, Connecticut, not far from Yale's campus in New Haven. The proximity of the modular manufacturer to Yale helped to keep transportation costs to a minimum and also contributed to meeting the tight time constraints.   >>>

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    A temporary building at Yale University designed by Centerbrook Architects.
    Photo: Norman McGrath

    ArchWeek Image

    Mathematically defined windows make the building look more customized than prefabricated.
    Photo: Norman McGrath


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