The Yale Center for British Art has completed the first phase of a major conservation project addressing some of the interior spaces of its landmark building by architect Louis I. Kahn. During this phase, which took place in the summer and fall of 2013, the Center’s Study Room and work spaces of the departments of Prints & Drawings and Rare Books & Manuscripts were restored to pristine condition.
This project is guided by the publication of Louis I. Kahn and the Yale Center for British Art: A Conservation Plan (2011) by Peter Inskip and Stephen Gee, in association with Constance Clement, the Center’s deputy director. The conservation plan—the first of its kind in the United States—is the result of nearly a decade of research and sets forth a series of policies that identify significant features of the building that must be protected and others that might be changed.
Led by George Knight (Yale MArch 1995) of Knight Architecture LLC, Yale’s Office of Facilities, and Turner Construction Company, the first phase of the project replaced worn carpeting and discolored wall linen and renewed millwork that was soiled and bleached from the sun. In order to accommodate the Center’s growing collections, new storage units were fabricated to replicate the original white oak cases. Additionally, some office spaces were reconfigured to suit the needs of the expanded departments more effectively. Technological improvements were undertaken, and code and life-safety issues were addressed.
Planning is well underway for the second phase of the project, which will take place in 2015. The focus of this next phase will be the renewal of the public galleries on the second, third, and fourth floors, as well as the refurbishment of the Lecture Hall. The project will also address improvements related to life safety and accessibility, and extensive building-wide mechanical and electrical upgrades will be made. Visitors will have limited access to the building and no special exhibitions will be mounted or visiting fellowships awarded. When the Center reopens in January 2016, its collections will be completely reinstalled in the elegant, sky-lit galleries of the fourth floor, and three focused exhibitions, featuring specific aspects of the Center’s collection, will be on view in the second- and third-floor galleries.