Scene on Campus


The School of Architecture’s first-year building project builds its 30th house.

Meghan Royster ’18March

Meghan Royster ’18March

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The 1,000-square-foot, two-family house-in-progress shown here stands on the corner of Winthrop and Scranton in New Haven’s West River neighborhood. The workers helping to build it are also its designers: this is the 30th house to be built by Yale architecture students as part of the Jim Vlock First Year Building Project. The program was launched by former architecture chair Charles Moore in 1967 and has been an integral part of the School of Architecture’s curriculum ever since.

“They build a house soup to nuts,” explains studio coordinator Alan Organschi ’88MArch, who, along with building project coordinator Adam Hopfner ’99MArch, has overseen the process for the last 12 years. “In January they’re working on concepts of dwelling space, about living in cities and the environmental dimensions of all of it,” says Organschi; “then in May, they’re digging foundations for a house that will be completed in August.” The program has centered on affordable housing during the last three decades, with partners including Habitat for Humanity; Home, Inc.; Neighborhood Housing; and Common Ground.

Moore created the First Year Building Project to get students out of the classroom and onto building sites, while also involving them in social action in the community. Over the years it switched from its original public-works focus to private housing—though Organschi says it could move back again. “Stay tuned for the next phase,” he adds. “We’re going to do some really cool stuff.”

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