New Haven, CT

During Martin Luther King’s weekend, I had organized a road trip to Boston with other Architect-US participants. The plan consisted in spending one day discovering hidden gems on our way to Boston, and the second day relaxing as well as exploring new places in Boston. On our first day we first visited Grace Farms, in New Canaan, Connecticut, an ethereal and elegant design by SANAA Architects. After our architectural tour at the Grace Farms, we headed to New Haven, Connecticut, a charming small town I absolutely enjoyed.

New Haven is best known for the prestigious Yale University, the third-oldest University in America. With a three-centuries-old campus, this town is without a doubt a must-visit for everyone interested in history, art and architecture. In the years following World War II, New Haven has become a laboratory for Modernist Architecture and Landmark Buildings. Although, New Haven is a small town; architects like Louis Kahn, Eero Saarinen, Paul Rudolph and Marcel Breuer among others, have shaped the city with numerous Architectural Landmarks reflecting the Modernism and Brutalism, the post-war era in America. Both movements share one fundamental principal promoted by Louis Sullivan, that ”form forever follows function”, without relying in architectural styles of the past.

In first place we checked on two outstanding buildings, one being the Yale Center for British Art, known as one of Kahn’s last projects, and the other the Yale University Art Gallery, both designed by the american architect Louis I. Kahn. In spite of having an austere appearance on the exterior, the Yale Center for British Art has a geometrical floor plan designed around two courtyards, where the presence of natural light is enhanced in an impressive way. Louis I. Kahn mastered a diffused natural light in the different intimate galleries around the courtyards. Some of the elements that captured my attention here were the wood sliding shutters that filter the light during the day, the walls or panels dividing the galleries that didn’t touch the floor or ceiling, as well as the convex ceiling of glass used not only on the galleries but also on the stairways. I felt mesmerized with the details one can find in Louis I. Kahn buildings. Even though, they were built some time ago and were considered as revolutionary in their time, they are still contemporary through their influence in today’s architecture. When visiting the Yale Art Gallery, the first thing that pops out is the ceiling, a concrete tetrahedral slab ceiling. This feature is the most innovative element of the Yale Art Gallery. Within the open space enhanced by the central core, Louis I. Kahn played with the concept of space frame, inspired by the geometric form of the american architect Buckminster Fuller.

Once we had completed our architectural tour of New Haven, we were finally ready for our last stop at Boston. All of a sudden, we had to face one of the most unexpected snow storm of the year that came from the Midwest. By the time we had left New Haven, it started to snow like there was no tomorrow. Although we expected some snow during the weekend, we could have not anticipated such an incredible storm. Despite of the challenging weather conditions, we made it safe and sound to Boston, where we had a gorgeous sunny Sunday doing snow sledding on the Flagstaff Hill at Boston Common, near the Freedom Trail and Beacon Hill Historical Neighborhood. We couldn’t miss either having the famous New England Clam Chowder at the Quincy Market as well as the most famous cannoli in town at Mike’s Pastry.

To sum up, one of the best things about being part of this program is definitely meeting other Architect-US Participants, some of them I can call family, and also being able to share such amazing experiences in this journey together. This was without a doubt a memorable road trip, full of many unforgettable moments and enriching experiences by all means! I am looking forward with enthusiasm to more adventures to come!


Cristina Marin


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