Commons

Front of Commons facing Beinecke Plaza with war memorial names of World War I battles carved into the facadeI keep coming back to the view of Commons as you approach it from Wall Street, passing Woodbridge Hall. That grand plaza, those columns, those names of WW 1 battles carved above the columns. It seems to be saying there is history and tradition here and please don’t forget it. And then, right next to it, the Beinecke library looking like a visitor from the future that happened to drop by. I’ve taken friends and visitors into both Beinecke and Commons because the insides of both are so striking and so grand. The buildings just seemed to give me the message: you’re here in a place of impressive excellence, be thankful! And though I haven’t been inside Commons for some years now I’m sure going to miss what it was.

Sam Mink

Beinecke Plaza

Beinecke Plaza, photographed from under Commons' colonnade, showing one of the columns, part of the cenotaph, a corner of Beinecke Library, and part of Berkeley CollegeOn the walk from Old Campus to University Commons, where we ate freshman year, we passed through a plaza that was home to the Beinecke Rare Book Library. Almost all of Yale was built many years ago and is very beautiful. Stone buildings look and feel like they could survive forever and provide protection whenever called upon. New buildings, like Morse and Stiles Colleges or Medical Center buildings, are well separated by distance and other parts of New Haven. Beinecke is of modern design, sits right in the middle, and just does not fit. Looking back, I realize it really did bother me every time I saw it. It made me uncomfortable, like there was a violation. I avoided that courtyard whenever I could.

Matt Epstein

Beinecke Reading Room

Reading room in Beinecke Library, looking onto the sculpture gardenBeinecke Reading Room underground from the Claes Oldenberg “Lipstick on Caterpillar Tracks”.

Gordon Bunshaft’s almost brand new Beinecke was a jewel box lit from within glowing through the Vermont marble facade housing stacks of beautiful bindings in a multi-story bronze and glass vitrine. Blonde wood and neutral carpet. Wearing light cotton gloves so as to not get perspiration on the fragile works and endless treasures. Holding a newspaper from pre-revolutionary Philadelphia reporting the comings and goings of ships and cargoes in harbor, the type crisply embossed into the newsprint. Falling into box after box of Paul Strand’s platinum prints their nearly infinite gray scale. A tiny Louis XV child’s chair from Gertrude Stein’s apartment, with a Picasso design needlepoint-covered seat, embroidered by Alice B. Toklas. Regret that I didn’t spend more of my time at Yale there.

Joshua Shapiro

Beinecke Rare Book Library

Inside the Beinecke Rare Book Library, on the second floor mezzanine, with the glowing stacks and the translucent marble wall panelsMy favorite place at Yale has always been the Beinecke Rare Book Library. Especially impressive are the translucent marble walls as seen from the interior: both functional and beautiful. Also the massive glass-encased column of books, and the rotating exhibits, with “Birds of America” and 1 or 2 Gutenberg bibles almost always present.

Beinecke typifies much of what is great about Yale: world-class collections, spectacular architecture, generous alumni support, and openness to the larger community without oppressive security. Whenever I had visitors–parents, friends, other guests–it would be our first stop.

– John Apruzese