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Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale University

Continuous sightlines unite spaces of creation and critique, encouraging interdisciplinary discourse.

The 12,200-square-foot Center for Innovative Thinking establishes a beacon for university-wide interdisciplinary collaboration. The Center brings students from diverse disciplines together to create innovative solutions to real world problems. The program, unique to Yale, is based around team workshops that allow students to bring their ideas to fruition. 

The building's elliptical form is centrally positioned in a courtyard of stepped orthogonal structures. Curved transparent glass walls encourage circulation through and around the Center, and allow the rest of the University to see and participate in ongoing work. Indoor and outdoor connections between the Center and the adjacent landscape establish this section of the campus as a new circulation route and a new home for innovation.

Within the Center, continuous sightlines unite spaces of creation and critique, encouraging interdisciplinary discourse. The open studio, conference, and breakout spaces engender opportunities for spontaneous discussion and provide a link between public areas and adjacent instructional spaces.

In keeping with Yale's commitment to sustainability, the project replaces the current underused paved plaza with a new planted garden, significantly reducing stormwater runoff and encouraging activity year-round. The building and the plaza renovation are currently on track for LEED Gold certification.

The combination of connectivity, sustainability, and new collaborative spaces transforms the existing campus courtyard and establishes the Center for Innovative Thinking and its plaza as a new interdisciplinary learning environment that cultivates innovators, leaders, creators, and entrepreneurs in all fields. 

North-south section and view from Norris Courtyard situates the Tsai Center's relationship to historic surroundings.

Set in a courtyard defined by Brutalist and Gothic architecture, the Center contrasts the static opacity of masonry with a luminous energy-efficient glass skin. 

The building's elliptical form is centrally positioned amidst a block of orthogonal structures.

The multipurpose studio loft's elliptical group meeting spaces are centered around skylights at each floor level. The stacked skylights create a continuous line of sight between research spaces below the plaza and the sky above. 

Continuing a campus tradition of garden courtyards, the Tsai Center established a new pavilion at the center of the desolate existing plaza.

Magritte-inspired conceptual rendering (above). 

The new Center creates a contrast to the surrounding closed walls with a mullion-free corrugated glass envelope, allowing the Center's work to be visible to the surrounding campus. 

Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale on the Cover of Architectural Record
Weiss/Manfredi's Design Fosters Innovation at Yale