Day Trip: On a Louis Kahn tear to New Haven CT

In a quest to visit every US building designed by this famed architect, I took a day tour to Yale University’s Center for British Art in New Haven,CT which I’m told  holds the largest collection of British Art outside Britain.

This museum is arguably the MOST boring museum I’ve been to.  The Art reminds me of museum trips with my mom when I was 9 years old:  all I wanted to do was to get out of there and get ice cream!  As a matter of fact I can’t remember ONE piece of art in the entire place.  So instead I focused on the building bones that where holding this uneventful art:  the magical building designed by Louis Kahn.  Luckily there was no entrance fee!

The building is approx. 200 ft by 200 ft, four story concrete building set in the Yale campus. The exterior is reminiscent of  modernist building while the interior is more Kahn-brutalist design.  Centered around a concrete-encased stair is two distinct sections of the museum:  one with an enclosed patio facing the enclosed circular stair and the other is another patio above the building entrance.

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Both of the sections have distinct rooms divided by panels and make the rooms feel like one is sitting in someone’s living room.  All rooms have either an external window or an internal opening in the shape of a window that looks into these patios; again making you feel like you are in someone’s home.  The effect of these windows and openings is remarkable in how it makes this large museum make one feel like an intimate viewing area for art.

The top floors have magnificent skylights that infuse the area with incredible natural light – I believe this natural light was meant to enhance the otherwise BORING British art that I paid NO attention to.  I guess you can put lipstick on a pig but it will still be a pig!


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