Revisiting a great Helpern project at Yale

For years, David Brussat was the articulate, you could say formidable architecture critic for the Providence Journal. More recently, he is a writer, editor, and relentless advocate for Classical Architecture [as opposed to the Modernist style].

The old new Nave at Yale" is an August 8, 2017 post in Brussat’s crusading blog, “Architecture Here and There.” He considers Helpern Architects’ work on the remarkable Nave, or entrance, to Yale’s Sterling Memorial Library – praising our “meticulous restoration” and “cagey ability” to insert advanced library technology, modern lighting, and climate control into a stone-on-stone Collegiate Gothic building.

His point? The original architect, James Gamble Rogers, turned to Classical Architecture in 1931, the cusp of Modernism, to delight, inform, and inspire students, faculty, researchers, and everyone else who goes there [thousands of tourists each year, it turns out]. Rogers wanted to create a memorable space worthy of an important building and its university community. Our job was, first, to restore the Nave, but then to redesign it with today’s materials, equipment, and infrastructure.

Brussat references previous coverage by the New York Times’ David Dunlap, which includes a video/interview with University Librarian Susan Gibbons. This new article was further carried by Kristen Richards’ ArchNewsNow, one of the best contemporary design news digests.

When Helpern Architects designs new buildings, we are modernists at heart, but you can say we’re intentionally classic, with a lower-case “c”. Our approach might not totally please David Brussat. Still, we have earned a reputation for preservation and progress where existing buildings are concerned: we appropriately renovate and add to important old buildings and spaces so they can continue to be well used today.

This old/new approach has earned the firm important projects, among others from the Collegiate Church Corporation [Marble Collegiate Church and Fort Washington Collegiate Church]; Pratt Institute [reconstructing Main Building]; and developers like Madison Equities [212 Fifth Avenue conversion].

Note: We flag for you that David Brussat, never a dull read, has written a new book Lost Providence, soon to go on sale.