Honorable Mention - Excellence in Architecture for Rehabilitation, Restoration or Preservation

Yale University

Schwarzman Center
Yale University - Schwarzman Center
Jury Comments
““. . . unexpected response but impeccably done . . . quite a remarkable upgrade of a historic building into the new center for a historic campus . . . restoration portions appear to be beautifully completed with significant design and construction rigor. . . simply amazing . . .””


    • Building – 123,388 gsf
    • To address the severe disrepair of the Commons floors, the foundation was dug up and the Commons was lowered 30 inches, creating new space in addition to ensuring structural soundness.
    • The project was made possible by Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman, a Yale graduate, who donated over $100 million to the project, both for the building and for support programs.
    • One of the first buildings constructed by Yale.


The new center for student life and the arts is housed in the Bicentennial Buildings, originally constructed in 1901. Located between the former Yale College and Sheffield Scientific School, the Bicentennial Buildings merged those two communities and have long since stood as a symbol of unification and progress. Schwarzman Center continues and expands this tradition, with a focus on bringing Yale together as one unit.

Yale’s Schwarzman Center transforms Carrère & Hastings’ historic Commons and three floors of the adjoining Memorial Hall into a social hub for the university’s undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Capitalizing on its location at the geographic center of campus, the Schwarzman Center is dedicated to both cultural programming and student life, outfitted with state-of-the-art technology that enables virtual engagement with the Yale community away from campus, as well as with the broader public.

The major programming goals of this renovation were to restore historic spaces; to reinvent existing spaces; and to carve out new, student-centered spaces. In addition to dining and social spaces, the design creates flexible, technologically- advanced performance and event venues throughout the building. The scope of the project was to renovate the Commons; to dig up the foundation below the floor; and to restore all the spaces in Memorial Hall, including the war memorial—which inspired Maya Lin’s design for the Vietnam Veteran’s memorial—and Presidents Room, as well as the Dome Room.

The renovations retain and restore the building’s historic architectural features and return to public use the top-floor Dome Room, for decades the yearbook office, reinventing it as a flexible experimental performance space. Service areas below the Commons are reclaimed to create a bistro and additional gathering spaces to be configured for performances. Below Memorial Hall, a circular room with exposed granite foundation walls became a pub, the Well.

A sweeping stair descending from Hewitt Plaza provides entrance to the lower-level social spaces, and a skylit second- floor addition along Grove Street, inspired by a 1906 Carrère & Hastings proposal for private dining rooms, creates a series of double-height lounges and meeting rooms that in the evening hours are a beacon for the Yale community, visible when approaching from Science Hill and Pauli Murray and Benjamin Franklin Residential Colleges to the north.

This much-needed renovation has transformed a historic Yale landmark into a modern, active campus center for dining, performances, and events.

Project Team

Robert A.M. Stern Architects; Robert Silman Associates; AKF Group, LLC; Langan Engineering; L’Observatoire International; Jaffe Holden; Fisher Dachs Associates