Grand Tour

Grand Tour

A photo essay. To view all 12 images, check out the email edition.

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All the Yale Schwarzman Center’s a stage, pretty much.

During a press tour of the renovated and ramped-up center (map)—reportedly Yale’s first proper student center—marketing and communications director Maurice Harris emphasized a mandate to enhance student life by infusing it with the arts. The first stop on the tour was The Dome, a resonant room rounded on all sides but the floor, with concentric rings of stage lights orbiting overhead. Harris opened a side hatch filled with blinking equipment, all the better to support shows such as an experimental site-specific concert that christened the space in October. He described the room as a black box concept, suggesting the sky, or at least the skylit oculus at the peak of the ceiling, is the limit.

sponsored by

The Yale School of Music

Directly below on the second floor, the similarly rounded Presidents’ Room has retained its historical functionality as a formal dinner and reception space. But it’s also been outfitted as a stage for presentations, including with a camera that can automatically follow the movements of presenters.

Most of the defined spaces within Schwarzman are defined in multiple ways. The curving hallway outside the Presidents’ Room isn’t just an artery; it’s also an art gallery. The Underground isn’t just a dining, gathering and studying area (home to Elm, a daytime/evening cafe, and Ivy, serving “late-night” fare); it’s also got a stage. Even Commons, Yale’s historic and largest dining hall, is now considered a performance space. The Annex, meanwhile, with windowed nooks overlooking Grove Street Cemetery, is a place for both working and, via Yale’s integrated Good Life Center, resting.

A dedicated dance studio might be Schwarzman’s most single-minded room, the other candidates being The Bow Wow, a grab-and-go convenience store, and The Well, a splashy 21+ bar serving beer, wine and its own menu of food.

Some events at the Schwarzman Center are open to the public, and before, during or afterward, New Haveners not affiliated with Yale can access and enjoy Elm, Ivy and The Well, Harris said. (Elm’s Sweet Potato Torta, served in a pressed panini format, was tasty and satisfying for $8.) Upcoming public events include Seven Pillars, a February 4 concert in Commons structured as a “large-scale palindrome,” and, on February 10 in The Well, “a fun, casual, and stress-free networking event over meaningful conversations and cocktails.”

Over those cold drinks, I bet the Schwarzman Center itself, long a subject of public curiosity, will be a hot topic.

Written and photographed by Dan Mims.

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