2015 Yale School of Architecture Jim Vlock Building Project

     Since 1967, first-year students at the Yale School of Architecture have worked collaboratively to design and build a structure as part of their graduate education. Unique among architecture schools, the Jim Vlock Building Project is a required component of Yale's curriculum. In recent years, the Building Project has focused on the design and construction of houses in New Haven's economically distressed neighborhoods. 

     The 2015 project brief targeted a 1,000 square foot house to be located on a corner lot at 193 Winthrop Avenue in New Haven's West River neighborhood. Students were challenged to develop a cost-efficient and flexible design prototype that could be adapted to similar sites in New Haven and other urban environments across the country. 

     During the first half of the spring semester, students worked individually, each developing a prototype for the dwelling. Eight of these initial schemes were selected for further development, and the class was divided into teams, each team tasked with creating a final design proposal. At the end of the semester, one project was chosen and the entire class worked together to build the selected design.

     The design of the 2015 house centered on the idea of a multi-functional core. The core is efficient, consolidating stairs and utilities into a central spine, leaving the remainder of the first floor open, gracious, and able to connect to the site. On the second floor, the core opens into a study area for the residents with a gracious window seat and two-person desk area.  This communal space is flooded with natural light from a skylight overhead and a large corner window. The living quarters surround the corner study. Windows in each bedroom afford expansive urban vistas along the two intersecting street grids of the corner lot. The house is sited at the apex of the triangular lot, shielding the large backyard from the exposed corner while claiming a prominent position in the urban context. 

Images and Plans



NeighborWorks New Horizons
Julie Savin
NeighborWorks New Horizons

Academic Discipline(s)
First-Year Master of Architecture Students
50 Students
Academic Facts

Site / Structure Dimension
Project size: 1250 sq ft
Project budget: €120,000
Project Start
Project Context
Project Type