Samuel F.B. Morse and Ezra Stiles Colleges, Yale University
Samuel F.B. Morse and Ezra Stiles Colleges at Yale University are, physically, two independent residential colleges. Conceptually, however, they are derived from the same formula and share the same aesthetic components, thus architecturally merging the two colleges into one. Morse and Stiles are composed of clusters of rooms organized around asymmetrical courtyards, resulting in a back-to-back abstracted-pentagon site plan. The polygonal, interlocking two-and-four-story forms are pierced by two towers- one eleven stories (for Stiles, at the western end of the complex), the other fourteen stories (belonging to Morse, at the eastern end). A reinforced rubble aggregate concrete wall system was used for the entire complex, with large pieces of granite set in tan mortar -- what Saarinen referred to as "masonry without masons." Due to the continuity of the clusters, the colleges take on a monumental quality and appear fortress-like yet engaging at the same time. While the walls serve a structural purpose, they primarily serve an aesthetic role, with an additional function of visually connecting the colleges to the surrounding neo-Gothic campus architecture and referencing the complexity and organic growth of Medieval Italian hill towns. At the same time, however, the structures come across as a completely Modern interpretation of these archetypes and stand independently from all other Yale and New Haven structures.