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I thought you would be interested in this article from environment: YALE magazine, the Journal of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.
By Richard Conniff
Photos by Robert Benson Photography
Illustrations by Gregory Nemec
A casual visitor to the new home of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies might not consider it radically different from any other building at Yale. At first glance, Kroon Hall is strikingly simple—a modernist blend of a cathedral nave and a Connecticut barn, just 57 feet wide, with high barrel-vaulted gable ends, set back from Prospect Street and running 218 feet east into the heart of Science Hill.
But from the start, more than a decade ago, proponents of the building set out to achieve an unconventional, even audacious, agenda here, focused on building social capital, breaking with the past and speaking to the future of environmentalism. They wanted a healthy place to study and work, of course, but they also wanted what Stephen Kellert, Tweedy Ordway Professor of Social Ecology, calls “restorative environmental design,” bridging the gap between nature and people even in the middle of the city. That was going to mean demolishing at least one corner of the Science Hill landscape of driveways, dumpsters, parking lots and a power plant and bringing the place back to life as a campus for people. They also wanted the new building to be energy-efficient, and they set out to achieve a platinum rating in the green-building certification program, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). But they aimed to do much better than that. The typical LEED gold or platinum building performs only about 28 percent better than conventional buildings on energy efficiency, according to a 2007 survey. Kroon Hall planners set out to achieve something more like the architectural Holy Grail, a modern building that wasn’t merely efficient, but carbon-neutral. Dean Gus Speth, who together with Kellert was the driving force behind the project, promised a building that would be “a symbol of the school’s ideals and values and a powerful expression in beautiful form of our relationship to the environment.”
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Environment: YALE magazine is Published by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
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