It is no secret that residents tend to fight against new development in historic areas that are well built up. When a neighborhood is prominently known for its overhanging tree canopies and Victorian houses, it will come as no wonder that people will fight against an all glass space station-like structure. Such a case did indeed occur in my hometown of New Haven, Connecticut. There has long been a struggle between the city and Yale University, but shots were fired when the university proposed its School of Management building. Residents opposed the development for a long time, but the academic building still went up despite the peoples’ best efforts.
When a developer and residents are at odd over matters, the best and more popular resolution is to find an in-between option that works for everyone. The developer must respect the characteristics of the neighborhood, but at the same time must construct a building that is financially viable. Often times, that may lead to buildings that are taller or more cheaply made, in order to make ends meet with the land value.
At around the same time as the School of Management’s construction, there was another project planned on the other side of campus. Randy Salvatore had originally proposed a residential development on Howe Street, a corridor mostly lined with four-six story brick facades, in 2012. The building would conform to an ideal height, five stories, but faced opposition on other issues. Residents complained about the design, ranging from its failure to comply with the historic streetscape, to noise issues.
Over a year later, the developer returned with a new plan, and residents were pleased. A new design was proposed that would still clash with the brick structures, but might yet compliment the neighborhood. The building proposed included a charcoal-black paneled facade with a modernist corner facing the intersection. The building was a similar color to the existing parking garage nearby, which adds an artistic touch to then neighborhood; its neutral color does not clash with the existing streetscape.
The developer also added extra touches to appease local residents. A historic house that would have been demolished would be moved to an empty lot next door. Parking would be spread out throughout backlots, and noise issues were resolved.
The issues concerning there facade were settled amongst residents. It seems that the developer had done its part in meeting the concerns of locals. The building still didn’t match up with its surroundings, but it added an interesting touch to the neighborhood. As the architect remarked, nearby “significant buildings” like the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Art Gallery extension, and the Study hotel as inspiration for his design, which he said would replicate those buildings’ “modern expression of traditional architectural form.”
The neighborhood was beginning to change in its architecture, and this development facilitates that. The changes in style aren’t dramatically at odds, rather they compliment the neighborhood. The architecture suggests what the possible future might look like for the street with new development styles. Already, two additional projects have been proposed along the corridor – one already under construction. Changes to a streetscape cannot be dramatic – a space station cannot be built next to smaller brick houses. But new development can inch in that direction – step by step, to add diversity to a neighborhood that all can agree on.