Update on in-progress University initiatives

September 26, 2019

There are several large initiatives taking place across campus. Below is an update on two of those projects.

Sachem’s Wood – Landscaping project

Sachem’s Wood is getting a much-needed overhaul. This long-neglected park, situated off Sachem Street and surrounded on three sides by several Yale science buildings, may become the new outdoor hangout for both students and the Yale Community. Also adjacent to Kroon Hall, the park’s sloping hill is best known for being the foundation upon which Kline Biology Tower (KBT) looms over central campus.

In the past, the park had a simple linear paved walkway, lawn, and some large shade trees. It’s only defining feature being the Modern Head, a 31-foot-tall stainless-steel silhouette by the late artist Roy Lichtenstein. Primarily used as a pathway to get to and from the science buildings, Sachem Woods did not lend itself as a place to sit, sun, or study. That is all about to change.

The park’s makeover, currently underway, includes new landscaping, paved pathways, and outdoor seating areas. Work should be complete by the summer of 2020. Central to the redesign was creating a green space that would be an important connector between Science Hill and the rest of central campus. “We envision this green space to become a gathering space for students and faculty from the Science and Hillhouse areas. In addition, it will be a place for school groups to gather when visiting the Peabody Museum. This makeover is appropriate given the recent completion of the Yale Science Building (YSB) that includes a new pavilion located at the top of Sachem Woods,” said Dev Hawley, Director of University Planning and Facilities Operations. Hawley’s team is also working with faculty members and students to use this new park to assess and enhance biodiversity on campus.

The YSB, which opened its brand-new doors in August, includes an indoor pavilion and large outdoor deck accessible from Sachem’s Wood. Part of this landscaping project includes protecting mature, heritage trees by insuring their safety during construction. Plans include re-grading the slope, requiring the movement of lots of dirt. The park will also include a unique, new ellipse-shaped pathway. “It will become an area for people to gather for lunch, afternoon walks, or to study,  while at the same time being a major connector between the central and science campuses,” said Dev Hawley.

It will become an area for people to gather for lunch, afternoon walks, or to study,  while at the same time being a major connector between the central and science campuses. Dev Hawley Director of University Planning and Facilities Operations

When complete, this high-profile central campus landscape project will have an immediate benefit to the community. The stainless-steel sculpture, dedicated when Richard Levin became president, will remain.

Alexander Walk – Walkway and landscape project

Work on converting Wall and High Streets into a more pedestrian friendly and landscaped walkway is underway. This area was closed to car traffic in 1990, per an agreement between Yale and the City of New Haven. For many years, there were no changes to the aesthetics, and this area appeared to any passerby as city streets with sidewalks. In 2013, the university purchased both streets and began long-term plans to create a walkway like Rose Walk in front of Sterling Memorial Library.

The project entails taking out 70% of the concrete sidewalks and replacing them with planting beds, shrubs, and trees. In addition, the road pavement is being removed and replaced with special concrete pavers that match Rose Walk. Other updates include the installation of new LED light fixtures, benches, and bike racks.

When complete, the Wall Street section will be renamed Alexander Walk in honor of former Yale Vice President of New Haven and State Affairs and Campus Development, Bruce Alexander. This section runs between College and York Streets. Part of it, between College and High Streets has been recently opened. The remaining area that leads to York Street will open in the fall of 2020 and will include a speed table as it crosses over to 320 York.

The second half of this project includes the High Street section, which runs from Wall to Grove Street. It will get the same treatment and upgrades, and will also be completed in the fall of 2020. Due to construction at the Schwarzman Center, this street is needed for staging, delivery access, and construction office trailers.

The University has not conducted an outdoor landscaping project of this type since Rose Walk was completed in 1993. Construction of the entire area will be complete and open to pedestrian traffic by the fall of 2020.