100 College Street, New Haven

Gray Area

Photographing a tall glass building from below on a cloudy, rainy day is like shooting in black and white, only in color. Overcast sky reflected in clear glass converts the affected areas to a practical sort of grayscale.

The new, shiny commercial building at 100 College Street, the newest and shiniest structure to come from the city’s long-simmering, incrementally progressing “Downtown Crossing” redevelopment efforts, is an especially good rainy-day subject, of both photography and contemplation. On such days, the $100 million building’s decisive angles and shades of gray are exquisite to look at. Maybe they also register as metaphors for the certainties and uncertainties attending the project.

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Knights of Columbus Museum

One hope is that the new building will help reconnect downtown and The Hill, by stitching a wound created 60 years ago under a different grand vision for the city. Another is that the building’s primary incoming tenant, Alexion Pharmaceuticals—a New Haven-founded company that’s boomeranging back after a move to Cheshire, and that’s built a $30+ billion market cap atop a strategy of treating very rare diseases—will generate substantial job growth and other economic benefits for the city. A related hope is that the $51 million in grants, forgivable loans and tax incentives the state offered Alexion to incentivize the move will prove a savvy investment.

Hope, of course, is a bit of a gray area.

Written and photographed by Dan Mims.

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