Tsai CITY Opens

August 20, 2020

Tsai CITY, a stunning two-story, oval, steel, and glass building tucked neatly behind Becton Center on its Plaza, opened recently. At 12,500 square feet, it includes a large, flexible workspace that can be configured for a variety of studio set-ups, along with smaller meeting rooms and communal areas. It’s home to the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking (Tsai CITY), which was developed to foster connections between entrepreneurs, creators, and leaders from diverse backgrounds and disciplines.

The modern building features rippling, curving glass running two stories high. It shines beneath sunnyTsai CITY skies and when it’s cloudy, beautifully reflects all the older, taller buildings that surround it—including Becton Center and Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall (SSS). A massive skylight allows light to fall through two floors into Becton Lab’s lower-level teaching labs. Construction on the building began in 2019 and took about 18 months to complete, even with a two-month COVID-19 shutdown.

Sitting like a massive glass sculpture on what used to be Becton Plaza’s concrete desert, Tsai CITY will be surrounded by new landscaping, further enhancing its beauty. “I love this type of modern architecture, ” says Kari Nordström, director of Project Architecture & Design. “It is rare gem among the more conservative older buildings here at Yale. This building completely transformed that concrete plaza, and the beautiful rippling glass reflects and evokes its gothic surroundings. In 30 years here at Yale, it is one of my favorite projects,”

The landscaping will feature picnic tables inviting students to sit, interact, or enjoy lunch in Yale’s newly transformed courtyard. In the past, people walked through the plaza to get somewhere. Now with the new building and landscaping, the area is more inviting as a hub of potential innovation.

A major donation by Joseph C. Tsai ‘86 B.A., ‘90 J.D., an alumnus of Yale College and Yale Law School, supported the construction, launch, and programs of Tsai CITY. The building was designed by WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture in New York City, and built by Whiting-Turner Construction, New Haven, CT. The Facilities project team will seek the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certification for this building, which is awarded to sustainable construction projects and buildings.

 Special thanks to Yale Facilities’ staff members who worked tirelessly on this project:

  • Sheri Miller, Director of Planning and Management—managed the entire construction project.
  • Kari Nordström, Director of Project Architecture & Design—as project planner he dealt with the project budget, and schedule formulation, and development of the design with client and architects to resolve design issues or changes.
  • Justin Pezzolesi, Senior Construction Project Manager—as project manager in the field during construction, Justin brought this project in on budget and on time.

By Lisa M. Maloney, Internal Communications