Page B1.3. 13 June 2007                     
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    Polshek's Kahn Yale Gallery Restoration

    continued

    Many of the materials in these post-war "boomer buildings" were intended to be left unfinished like Kahn's concrete ceilings, terrazzo floors, and glass walls so the wear from years of use cannot simply be removed or painted over.

    They also have antiquated plumbing, heating, cooling, and electrical systems that are not easy to upgrade because they are wedged into small spaces that allow little room for improvements.

    On top of all this, boomer buildings' energy performance is uniformly dismal. Designed and constructed in the days of cheap oil and electricity, they are now energy sieves that need to be made more efficient. The restoration of Kahn's Yale University Art Gallery shows how an "old Modern" building can be reborn.

    Polshek Partnership's sensitivity to Kahn's original vision and the inventive ways in which the building has been improved in the spirit of Kahn's design present a model restoration approach. At $44 million, it was an expensive undertaking, but the building's value to the history of American architecture is priceless.

    Michael J. Crosbie is editor-in-chief of Faith & Form, chair of the Department of Architecture at the University of Hartford, a senior associate with Steven Winter Associates, and a contributing editor to ArchitectureWeek.

     

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    ArchWeek Image

    North side and upper courtyard of Yale University Art Gallery by Louis Kahn; restored by Polshek Partnership Architects.
    Photo: Elizabeth Felicella

    ArchWeek Image

    Second floor gallery, African art. Kahn's concrete triangular-patterned ceiling structure has new track lighting.
    Photo: Elizabeth Felicella

    ArchWeek Image

    Third-floor gallery; early European art.
    Photo: Elizabeth Felicella

    ArchWeek Image

    Third-floor gallery; modern and contemporary art.
    Photo: Elizabeth Felicella

     

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