When Eero Saarinen designed Morse and Ezra Stiles colleges, he created dining halls like those in the older residential colleges in their spaciousness, comfort, and utility. But as a resident of Morse, its dining hall always seemed lighter and more airy than the others, and conducive to the many pleasant hours I spent there immersed in conversation. Particularly at breakfast and lunch, its multi-story window wall flooded the space with daylight, sometimes cheerful and lively, sometimes as gloomy as an identity crisis. The textured concrete walls could make it seem a bit cave-like, but the space had an open feeling combined with enough intimacy and human scale that it was an attractive center of the college’s communal life.
– Stu Gardiner
Heading between Stiles and Morse to Payne Whitney for daily basketball practice is a lasting memory. The great bulk of PW loomed as you headed up the stairs to the gym and the return trip into the heart of the campus had a very different feel. In retrospect, it was a transition from the site of intense outside competition within the context of a team to the warmer, cozier, but often lonelier world of the campus and academic life. I am sure there are other analogies that can be drawn which I will leave to the more poetic.
– Terry Finn
Sterling Memorial Library was it. The monumental granite, the stained glass, the statuary, the arched entrance more foreboding than welcoming, it represented the accumulated knowledge of the ages, an intimidating mountain, its upper reaches unscalable. I couldn’t look it in the face.
In Hungry Charlie’s across York Street I tilted the blank wall of my face toward the articulated rear of knowledge, considering procrastination over a beer at base camp in the shadow of that frozen peak. Later, I would find a seat in the main hall or in a reading room, or sometimes in the stacks, but now I’ll just finish this beer and return to my walnut cubby at Morse and consider things further.
– Bill Peck
The jagged walkway between Morse and Stiles is non-descript as you approach it from York Street. But once you mount a series of steps and follow the jog to the right, you come upon a vista that’s as surprising as it is majestic — the tower of Payne Whitney, framed perfectly between the adobe-like concrete walls of the two colleges. Morse and Stiles look nothing like the rest of Yale. Payne Whitney looks like no other gym in the world. And yet the space exudes harmony. To steal a line that my old Morse master, Vincent Scully, used about the skyline of Chicago, the buildings “talk to each other.” Fifty years ago, it was my favorite spot on our eclectic campus. Today, it’s my favorite lesson for our divided times.
– Paul Taylor
Spring of 1970 and six of us had decided to spend some deep time, sprawled out in the sun. Two large AR speakers had been set up at different windows, and the sound of Moby Grape, early Steve Miller, and the Dead was streaming into the space. It felt like our living room. We were as astonished at the students and faculty passing by, and a couple small kids dancing, as they were at us, dressed in hippie casual with many other things on our minds.
– Philip Coleman