“3-D” Gateway Design Unveiled

by Allan Appel | January 30, 2008 10:39 AM | | Comments (25)

2Gateway%20Community%20College-atrium.jpgThe public got its first look at designs for two four-story buildings with a sun-lit atrium (pictured) that will anchor downtown New Haven as Gateway Community College’s new main campus.

Street-level retail is gone. “Green” is in.

The preliminary designs for the new were unveiled to generous if cautious approval Tuesday night to a roomful of the designers and alders, but very few members of the pubic, in the community room at Gateway’s current city campus off Sargent Drive.

1201671289265_30_GATEWAY.jpgThe design addresses multiple challenges: how to transplant a college campus to two separate city blocks bifurcated by a busy one-way thoroughfare; how to make it inviting and conducive for student-teacher camaraderie and at the same time interacting with the community; and how to make it safe and secure for thousands of students and their many automobiles, while creating a distinct institutional identity.

Plus, it needs room to grow. And it can’t clog up downtown New Haven?

The campus will consist of two four-story buildings of brick and glass, facing Church Street and running from North Frontage road on the south via an aerial bridge over George Street to Crown, at which corner will be the main entrance to the campus. At the other end, at North Frontage the school’s library will face out towards the Route 34 commuters, a true gateway.

nhi-gateway29%20001.JPGRobert Goodwin, principal architect of the project (pictured on the right) of Perkins + Will, a New York City firm, along with his whole team, said that besides these two markers, the chief architectural feature will be a multi-story, sun-lit atrium space that runs between the two buildings.

“It unites them,” he said, “and becomes the prime internal and external landmark.” Inside, from the atrium that you access from George and Crown via escalator, Goodwin described a series of “cascading stairs” running the length of the building from the atrium to a terrace atop the library building at North Frontage.

A Model Green Building
He was particularly proud that the Gateway building will be the first LEED gold certified building in the state, that is, it will have the highest energy efficient and sustainable construction features to date, and serve as a model green building statewide.

“Although the building will have elevators, of course,” he said, “this is a three-dimensional campus, with people moving up and down a lot in order to learn, which is why along the stairs there will a kind of lane of wooden seating for students to stop and interact with each other and their teachers, while others move up and down on the way to class.”

nhi-gateway29%20002.JPGThat will preserve the sense of family that, according to the school’s president, Dorsey Kendrick (pictured with Gateway’s dean of students, Dr. Wilson Luna), was one of the aims of the collaborative process. It has involved students and staff, and community since the plan was initiated in 2001.

The new building will have 360,000 square feet of space. If you throw in the garage, half a million. The number of classrooms will increase from 80 to a total of 115, which include not only general classrooms but specialized room for music, science, nursing, and engineering; the engineering classes, with their heavy equipment, will be in the basement.

How will the school “interact” with the community? The school’s library will be open to the public. The Church Street façade, running north from the Library will have, according to Goodwin, a kind of store-front quality. You will pass, he said, a gallery, the culinary training program where pedestrians can look in to see the students in their white uniforms learning how to toss those soufflés, and then, nearing George Street a bookstore.

On the Church Street ground level will be a Literacy Volunteers site and a clinic operated by the Hill Health Center.

In the early planning stages there had been talk of street level retail, but Kendrick said those plans have been dropped, except for the bookstore.

Gateway has been growing rapidly. Kendrick and Luna sid. That will continue through the “weekend college,” that is offering growing numbers of courses from Thursday through Saturday. Another engine for growth is the recent agreement, amounting to dual admissions, that guarantees a spot in the four state colleges or UConn to any graduate of Gateway. “Our number of kids, therefore, entering right out of high school is growing rapidly.”

Does the new building have room for this expansion? Kendrick said that the current 5,780 full time students will more or less be capped at 6,000. The new building will have classroom space for 7,000. But for many of those, the rub will — you guessed it — be parking, already a daily and nightly crisis at the Long Wharf campus. Many programs to use public transportation and bicycles, and vans are in place; some are working, some not.

The Parking Garage and Crown Street
Not surprisingly, the school’s to-be-built 600-space garage (augmented by another 700 spots available to students in the adjacent Temple Street garage) and how it will accept and send out its vehicles all onto a Crown Street, which already receives Temple Street Garage traffic, was a subject of considerable concern to the city officials and alders, who attended in some force.

nhi-gateway29%20004.JPGMike Piscitelli (pictured), traffic and parking director, expressed some dismay that the garage was not as well wrapped by the building as he had expected from earlier designs, particularly on the Crown Street side.

“We’ve been encouraging people to come and live in the Chapel Square Mall area,” he told Goodwin, “and I hope headlights from the garage don’t shine on them from Crown. I’m really concerned with the wall of parking you have there.”

Kelly Murphy (pictured behind Piscitelli), the city’s economic development director, wanted to know if some ground-level retail could be established on Crown Street instead of ground-level parking.

“No way,” responded Emilio Pizzoferrato, the project’s manager for the state Department of Public Works (pictured on the far left at top of story). “We’d have to lose a lot of parking, maybe 25 or 30 spaces.”

While Murphy suggested that maybe the city could come up with those compensatory spots in exchange for rethinking the look of Crown Street, even greater anxiety was expressed by Alders Bitsie Clark and Carl Goldfeld for the congestion as well as security on Crown Street when all the nightclubs along that strip empty out.

nhi-gateway29%20005.JPGWhen Clark (seated between Alders Goldfeld and Ina Silverman) was told Gateway holds classes late on Thursday and Friday night, her response was, “There’s trouble.” She urged President Kendrick and architect Goodwin to make a thorough visit to the area when the clubs let out and to plan accordingly for lighting and security in the garage area.

The two long facades, separated by the bridge, also raised concerns about a potential architectural blandness, but Goodwin explained that indentations and articulations were just not possible for variety’s sake because every inch was needed for interior spaces.

He said bright and creative lighting, along with a sustained program of public art, would lighten the feel of the facades especially at street level.

The campus is going to house all the school’s programs including the growing and successful nursing and science programs. The automotive technology courses will remain in the North Haven campus because of the logistics involved and space required.

By meeting’s end, the project’s modest critics — Piscitelli, Murphy, and the alders, including Ina Silverman, who had concerns that the bridge across George be reconsidered to allow more light to come through — seemed mollified. “We’ve been working collaboratively with them all this time,” said Murphy. “They’re going to address some of these concerns especially on Crown Street and the aerial bridge.”

For her part, Bitsie Clark said she in general liked the design very much. She suggested that the architect consider relieving the Crown Street block from Church west perhaps as the restaurant Kudeta, at Crown and Temple, had done, with interesting visual designs and distractions in the window. “You need something to relieve all that garage entrance and exit space.”

Kendrick said if all goes according to plan, excavation work could begin in summer 2009 and occupancy by September 2012. She said she had no information on the fate of the current campus, which is owned by the state Department of Public Works, after Gateway vacates.

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Posted by: DWSCMT | January 30, 2008 11:50 AM

What notice was given to the public?

I would have shared this with the members of the Downtown Wooster Square Community Management Team. I am sure many of them would have been interested in attending.

Posted by: nutmeg [TypeKey Profile Page] | January 30, 2008 11:57 AM

so it's a couple of big boxes, connected by a skybridge, with no street level retail, all attached to a parking garage. what a bold and original concept.

Posted by: Esbe [TypeKey Profile Page] | January 30, 2008 12:04 PM

The city has to fight that blank wall on Crown Street. How terrible and very much contrary to what the State promised it would do (a "wrapped" garage.) If the city has to offer an additional 30 parking spots in the Temple Street garage to get storefronts there, then so be it.

There has to be some misunderstanding about the conflict in times between the clubs and the night classes. Gateway offers a large number of midnight classes? I don't think so.

Also, by the time this opens it is going to be way too small. Expansion to the "south" would fit in nicely with turning Route 34 into a urban boulevard and give the State a futher interest in that project.

Posted by: Yair | January 30, 2008 1:21 PM

I cannot believe they are tossing out the ground-level retail after all these years of talk. This was a major major point of this development! I am trying not to overreact but heads should roll here.

Posted by: Gary Doyens | January 30, 2008 2:28 PM

It was mandated that Yale New Haven Hospital had to wrap its garage with first floor retail AND apartments.

Posted by: Esbe [TypeKey Profile Page] | January 30, 2008 4:14 PM

Nutmeg -- great pictures at those links

Posted by: charlie | January 30, 2008 4:50 PM

"was particularly proud that the Gateway building will be the first LEED gold certified building in the state"

Not true. Several newly-constructed buildings at Yale are already LEED-Gold for New Construction and there are others which are LEED-Gold for renovations.

Also, the design is horrendous. It will be a blight on New Haven for the next 100 years, when it will be torn down for something that actually relates to the city in a meaningful way.

Posted by: Pedro | January 30, 2008 4:55 PM

Agreed. One of the reasons that public resistance was allayed was specifically that street level retail was on the plan. Now it's being taken out? They are doing the exact same thing with this area as they are with the new art's high school. Plunking down large and largely closed buildings right in the middle of an area that's finally regaining life.

Posted by: john q public | January 30, 2008 6:18 PM

It's my understanding that street level retail has actually never been in the plans, as this is a state funded project. The city fought to have Gateway move downtown, despite the recent resurgence in developer interest in downtown commercial properties, and despite the fact that Gateway has already outgrown a space they won't even be moving into for years. Furthermore, the school moved downtown with a promise from the city to provide parking at a new garage, which had been slated for mid-block across the street, only that garage fell through and suddenly Gateway had to provide their own parking - on-site.

Posted by: robn | January 30, 2008 6:23 PM

It would be nice if city hall posted complete high res packages of upcoming major proposed designs so that citizens can have prompt access to review the materials. I guess I'm talking about voluntary transparency on the part of City Hall, rather than agressive requests and FOI'ing on the part of journalists.

Posted by: jt | January 30, 2008 6:55 PM

Don't get me wrong, I think moving the community college downtown is 100% the right idea. There are many more resources available to students and helps create a vibrant downtown. But if you have a community college system that continues to grow year after year, why on earth would you build a school that has to cap out at 6000 students, when the enrollment is already at 5780. Only 220 more students can attend a local community college??? Dr. Kendrick, as the schools leader, you should be creating an environment that reaches out to even more students. If you are not capable of doing this, then may I suggest that you step down and let a competent person run Gateway. Secondly, you are going to keep an entire building in North Haven that currently houses half the school open, just for the automotive classes??? So basically you are saying that the new building that tax payers are footing the bill on, doesn't even satisfy existing requirements, never mind future growth. What numb nuts builds a building that is obsolete before they even open the doors?? What a disappointment to the thousands of people that rely on the community college system to give them a leg up.

Posted by: JH | January 31, 2008 6:06 AM

Why is it that most opportunites to make New Haven a better place are wasted? Positive changes in this city always seemed to be overshadowed with half-assed outcomes.

Community College is the only option for many potential students due to the continously rising cost of a college education. I agree with "JT" that building a new school that can't reach out to more students and have the ability to grow with the numbers of people who are turning to community colleges for an affordable education is just plain foolish.

Posted by: charlie | January 31, 2008 10:33 AM

Clearly the budget for the building needs to be expanded,

A) to allow more space for street retail and make sure this thing does not kill downtown, and

B) to create space for expansion. It is ridiculous that a new building opening in 2012 will be too small the minute it opens. What the he** is their problem???

Write to every public official now and make these points clear!

Posted by: Your Tax Dollars at Work [TypeKey Profile Page] | January 31, 2008 12:01 PM

The design, to be polite, is: BLAND! The school will grow out of the space before it is able to occupy! The parking garage will add a Berlin Wall to Crown! Traffic will be permanently and adversely affected disabling possibilities for future retail development! ETC!

WWII GI's had a term particularly applicable to this misadventure: "Blivit." For the uninitiated that's: "Ten pounds of crap in a 5 pound bag."

Posted by: JP | January 31, 2008 2:36 PM

There has to be some way we can fit a D&D in the ground floor.

Posted by: True New Havener | January 31, 2008 4:14 PM

Just to be clear before lack of knowledge carries the day again in the NHI comment section.

Dr. Kendrick is generally considered the gem of public college presidents in the state (and many would argue the most forward thinking college president in town). Her fight to get this college built while other schools have tried to woo her from around the country is remarkable.

Gateway has always said that it would put public uses on the ground floor to interact with the street, not that it would open another Dunkin Donuts. It seems to have met that obligation.

I agree that a local premier architect like Pelli would have come up with a better design but this will still be one of the least bland buildings downtown. How does this compare to any of the buildings within two blocks (except the new Pelli high school) -- it is a big architectural upgrade.

Somebody suggesting that Dr. Kendrick should leave town? That's insane. She has built Gateway into the fastest growing college in the state (its student population is larger than Yale's by the way). Now people want to get upset because her success and the collapsing economy have made the college cramped with students? She already overfills a much smaller building, she will make this building work as well.

The state delegation, college President, Mayor, Aldermen and students have fought to get 60 million more dollars than originally planned for this college to actually meet our community's needs. How does this even come close to being incompetent? Is there another example of folks working together at this scale?

I doubt anyone disparaging of this project has any clue how hard it has been to pull this off and the hundreds of New Haveners who have great pride in the fight to get not a small renovation of a decrepit building on Longwharf but a brand new campus downtown.

Students marched, gave testimony in New Haven and in Hartford, and have changed the face of downtown for the next century. More power to them!!!

Posted by: Evelyn Gard | January 31, 2008 4:49 PM

Allow me to clarify:
Gateway Community College currently serves about to 6,000 undergraduates, and about 4,000 non-matriculating students who come to campus for professional development or personal enrichment courses. The 6,000 figure quoted in this article refers to an average over the past year or so.

By design, the new campus will comfortably accommodate an 18% increase in the student population in addition to those served through non-traditional evening and weekend programs. It will also house a 25% increase in designated and general classroom space.

It is the tenacity and determination of Gateway's President, Dr. Dorsey Kendrick, who spearheaded the initiative for a new campus over six years ago and whose main objective has always been, and continues to be equal and open access to higher education, that a once small and relatively obscure institution is now the second largest community college and the tenth largest institution of higher education in the state.

Although the new campus will not house general retail establishments, it will house a comprehensive bookstore, cafeteria and culinary arts facility, early childhood center, Hill Health Center facility and Literacy Volunteers offices.

The provision of open access to higher education for all of Greater New Haven's residents is at the center of Gateway's mission, and the new campus is designed to enhance the college's ability to realize this mission.

I speak for the college community when I say that we look forward to the new campus and to serving our growing student population in a state-of-the-art facility.

Posted by: charlie | January 31, 2008 6:22 PM

Although your mission is most certainly noble, Evelyn, and I appreciate the hard work of Dr. Kendrick, that doesn't change the fact that this massive building -- with its complete lack of retail, utter disregard for the city and its blank walls -- will be a blight on downtown.

It represents the death of any future hopes and dreams that this section of the city has of being a more walkable, vibrant place.

This kind of disaster would never happen in a European city.

Posted by: True New Havener | January 31, 2008 11:07 PM


What are you talking about?

First, plenty of European cities have sizable public use buildings without retail. Here's a few: London, Rome, Paris, Istanbul, Warsaw. Now that you have impressed us with your knowledge of impressive European city planning, why not play connect the dots and tell us all the specific examples anyone whose visited any of these cities once would be able to come up with (should be easy, there are at least a dozen in each case).

Second, your concern for the college is juxtaposed with the "death of any future hopes and dreams that this section of the city has of being a more walkable vibrant place." How about some amount of reason. If you inject 5000 to 10,000 additional human beings with legs (or wheelchairs) into a downtown of 50,000 people, you might expect that their very presence will drive walkable retail and amenities.

The presumption that if you build it (in this case retail) they will come was a mistake New Haven made for 50 years, as they simply did not come to: the mall, the coliseum, Macy's and a whole lotta other grand ideas.

And why did they not come? Because that's not how most successful cities work. Most cities (with a few high profile exceptions) have institutions which people attend because their lives depend on them; like jobs, colleges, medical facilities. They in turn use these people magnets and build around them to create a sense of place.

Having the Shubert saved College Street, because real people were coming for the shows and a restaurant business, and eventually housing developed around it. On the other hand, the coliseum was the death knell for 9th Square because everyone ate their hotdog at the coliseum, watched the monster trucks and took up all the parking before they went home to Branford. Since the coliseum has closed, the residential, business and institutional uses have created niche stores and restaurants and a thriving night scene reliant on parking; with no threat of drunken coliseum goers stumbling around after a hockey game.

Posted by: urbandev | February 1, 2008 12:04 AM

Gee Charlie I hope you've had some...? design or architectural training or maybe you just "feel it" isn't right? Right, the design on the exterior isn't there yet and clearly needs some work - and so? That's the purpose of presenting this so the public gets to comment. The State is not the most forthcoming in terms of public input - The powers that be have never read Jane Jacobs who years ago defined the basics of urban planning and what makes for a lively city. The college though does get what is important. It is a change maker. More than most educational institutions it understands what is happening in the real world and is able to respond much more quickly to the needs of residents in South Central CT in terms of training and skills we all need. The leadership of the school and the staff they have put in place is better than most private corporations - a remarkable statement for a public institution but if you get to know Gateway you know it is true. I suspect the school will be built - it will be exciting and generate an entire new dimension to downtown(change is good and while it may generate some new problems I suspect it will create many more opportunities for small businesses). More so we all need to look at the larger picture and not be so provencial the downtown as we know it will expand sooner or later and "fill in" to the harbor. Years from now we will all forget that Church and North Frontage or George Street was the southern "edge" of downtown and Gateway College was the most important development block in downtown. As for future growth of the college it will either go up or south across RT34 as the Mayor's plan plays out and Gateway is one piece of it. We always make trade-offs in life and I believe Gateway and all it brings with it now and in the future is well worth a few design flaws.

Posted by: Onebyd | February 1, 2008 9:06 AM

True New Havener/Evelyn Gard:


I could not have said it better and I am so happy to hear that Gateway is moving forward with their plans for coming downtown, I myself cannot wait and think it will be an amazing transformation for downtown!

I have the geat pride and pleasure of having my daughter attend Gateway in the fall and the staff has been nothing but amazing and wonderful and I would highly recommend this college to anyone who wants a quality education for their child, but does does not have tens of thousands of dollars to pay for it. Dr. Kendrick is an amazing woman who has fought tirelessly for this move, and the students have followed her lead and caused this amazing thing to happen and I am so proud that my daughter will be a part of this amazing student body!

From some of the comments that I have read on this site, it seems that no matter what you do, how you do it, or when you do it, some people will never be satisfied. I wonder if most of the regular complainers on this site actually go to public hearings or meetings and voice their complaints and more importantly their suggestions and get involved, or do they find it easier to do nothing and just come on this site and complain? I am very active in my community and if there is an issue that I am concerned about, I get involved, maybe they can do the same????

Posted by: robn | February 1, 2008 9:33 AM

..to address the particular criticism about lack of ground floor retail...I believe that the sentiment is right. However, I think that our goal should be to have "enlivened" storefronts, whether they be active retail or active classrooms/libraries....places where people congregate and put "eyes on the street". If the project ends up having no retail , but an enlivened academic function on street level, all the better becuase it will boost the surrounding areas retail business.

Posted by: w | February 1, 2008 10:20 AM

Wow Charlie your getting your butt kicked here. Let me see if i can at least go down with you. I think what Charlie was trying to say and rightly is that for new haven to be ultimately successful it needs to be a designation. people have to want to come in on the weekends and go to the shops, art galleries or see a play. Now obviously the college will bring students downtown but with retail it would have brought more then just the students. The other problem is without retail This will put a cap on downtown when the goal should be to extend downtown with walk able retail space across 34 and eventually to the train station. This plan kills the ability to extend church street across 34. The worst part about it is putting a huge garage entrance next to the temple garage entrance making all of crown between church and temple possibly the ugliest block possible and further disconnection the 9th square. Seems pretty obvious to me that parking should be as close to 34 as possible to make getting in and out fast and easy.

Posted by: charlie | February 1, 2008 12:01 PM

True New Havener et al,

I have been to all of the cities you mentioned several times. Rome, Istanbul, Paris, New York, etc are all major world capitals with much, much much higher population densities than New Haven.

Obviously, you can put an enormous, monumental building into the middle of Rome, NYC or Istanbul and not kill the city completely. That doesn't mean that the areas around the Coliseum, Baruch College, the Vittorio Emanuele or the Blue Mosque aren't all relatively unsafe, unpleasant and urbanistically poor places to be.

If the new Community College were a monumental, inspiring structure, with millions of visitors, like the Louvre, your plan might work. But the fact is that it is going to be sitting on two of the most central and valuable blocks of land in New Haven, smack dab between at least two viable retail districts. If the 10,000 students aren't put off by the huge blank facade of the college's parking garage on Crown Street, which just happens to be the only viable connection between the two retail districts, you are correct that they might venture out and patronize hundreds of city shops. So why are they afraid to put a few in on the ground floor?

Obviously, it is simply a matter of the building being underfunded. Let's be clear, I am not blaming the architects for this impending disaster. This building will get an award for doing a lot with a little. The blame rests on the leadership of the city and, more importantly, the state. Whatever happened to the state's goal of making more vibrant, mixed-use central cities that make CT a more competitive place in the world economy? This will be a wasteland.

Luckily, retail can be added 20 years from now when the next generation of city residents and college administrators realizes how valuable it would be. You could convert the parking garage to classrooms, using skylights, and free up some space at the ground level for public uses.

The other thing that can help this plan greatly is to traffic-calm Church and George Streets. Traffic should be slowed to a crawl so that people feel comfortable there. Hopefully this is still part of the proposal. Sidewalks need to be widened significantly. Bicycle lanes, parallel parking and curb bump-outs need to be installed. Maybe the streets can be made two-way.

Posted by: nutmeg [TypeKey Profile Page] | February 1, 2008 12:08 PM

charlie is dead on. this building, in the heart of downtown, needs street level retail.

there's been a huge trend among urban colleges to embrace their neighborhoods and help develop other uses around campus. new haven's other downtown college has embraced this along with many others across the country. not to mention the fact that revenue from the retail tenants helps offset the cost of maintaining the building (this is real estate, after all).

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