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Yale University Jonathan Edwards College

Yale University
New Haven, CT
144,000 SF
September 2008
Higher Education Residential Life Architecture Historic Interiors

The words of one of America’s most important philosophical theologians, Jonathan Edwards, inspired and guided the renovation and reorganization of Yale’s Jonathan Edwards College, a living-learning community. The design team aimed to create a tangible expression of Edwards’ thoughts, embedding his words literally and figuratively into the fabric of the building so that his ideas might resonate in the lives of those who make the College their home.


With the University’s support, the architects studied Edwards’ writings with Yale scholars. In the process they came to know a visionary capable of subtle observation and profound appreciation of the world around him. By exposing existing materials, by selecting simple new materials, and by placing actual quotations at key locations, they infused the architecture of the College with the spirit of Edwards’ thought made real, revealing the beauty within the ordinary and the existing, and the wonder to be found within multiplicity.

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The comprehensive renovation of Jonathan Edwards College included new stair and elevator cores vertically through varied existing construction; and connecting three separate existing buildings into one clear, coherent circulation network. The existing kitchen was demolished and replaced with a new servery. Existing basement squash courts were converted into an experimental theater; other new basement spaces include a game room, fitness center, dance/aerobics room, woodshop, and letterpress print shop. An underground tunnel link completes a basement circulation loop, while providing an art gallery. Interior renovations also included 78 undergraduate residential suites and faculty apartments, the Master’s house, seminar and common rooms, and faculty offices. The College was re-dedicated in December 2008.

  • Boston Society of Architects Higher Education Award for Design Excellence, 2009
  • AIA CT Design Award, Preservation Category, 2009

Meet the Team Involved

Joe Schiffer
Joe Schiffer

Principal Emeritus