Designed by Eero Saarinen and completed in 1958, the David S. Ingalls Hockey Rink at Yale University is an extraordinary building, a highpoint in expressive modern architecture. Commissioned to design the rink, Saarinen developed a uniquely sculptural building, resembling something like a slithering beast, with 2,900 seats set stadium fashion around a 200' x 85' skating area. Saarinen wanted to bring people into the rink on the southern, campus side and he wanted the movement of the skaters toward the goals to follow that processional route. The curved form also sweeps the observer along and into the action. The great arching spine of the building is visible and dominant inside and out, with the central arch reaching 75 feet in height and cantilevering out 40' on each end to support the roof over the entrances.
Technically and visually, the most notable feature of the concrete and aluminum building is the sweeping aluminum and wood roof. The roof is hung in a saddle shape from a great central spine and held in place by a grid of cables running parallel and perpendicular to the spine, forming a tensioned web. Wood slats on the roof work well with the concrete formwork, and though some have been replaced, most have survived. Saarinen sheathed the roof with neoprene, a material he first used at the GM Technical Center to hold curtain wall windows in place. On top of the roof, there are three guy wires (bracing cables 1 3/4 in diameter), which help it resist snow loads.
Saarinen hired Fred Severud, the noted engineer to work with him on the design of the rink. They developed a roof hung in a saddle shape from a great central spine and held in place by a grid of cables running parallel and perpendicular to the spine, forming a tensioned web. The roof was covered with a membrane of wood slats. Saarinen's design was an innovative approach to these ideas and also one of the most expressve uses of this type of modern technology.
Each of Eero Saarinen's projects are unique and particular forms specifially designed for a certian set of circumstances, functionally and humanistically. The Ingalls Rink expressed movement through its scluptural organic form inside and out, setting an innovative and unique standard to approaches in expressive modern architecture.
At the time Saarinen was designing the Ingalls Rink, there were many experimental structural systems emerging, particulariy in regards to tension structures and large slung roofs. Saarinen was influenced at the time by Matthew Nowicki's design for the North Carolina State Livestock Judging Pavilion of 1950-1952, Paul Rudolph and Twitchell for a tension structure house in Florida, Bill Irwin in Melbourne who was working on an Olympic Swimming Stadium and a Music Bowl and Luigi Nervi who was building the Sports Palace in Rome. Hugh Stubbins would soon design a cross-cable saddle for the Congress Hall in Berlin (1957).
The Ingalls Hockey Rink is a remarkable advancement in cable supported membrane roofs, becoming an icon in the experimental use of this technological innovation. Saarinen's use of the hung roof here influenced his design for Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, VA (1962). The development of an innovative design by a well-known architect for a sports complex, set a precedent for future such commissions.
Fred N. Severud and Raniero G. Corbelletti, Hung Roofs, Progressive Architecture, Mar. 1956, pp. 99-107.
Hockey rink at Yale; Architectural Record v 122 Aug 1957. p. 186-9.
Fred N. Severud, Arches and Catenaries Carry Rink Roof for Yale’s Hockey Rink, New Haven, Engineering News Record, April 10, 1958, p. 30-31, 33.
Fred N. Severud, Cable Suspended Roof for Yale Hockey Rink, Civil Engineering, Sept. 1958, p. 60-63.
Yale's hockey rink; Architectural Record v 124 Oct 1958. p. 151-8.
Recent work of Eero Saarinen, with some statements of Eero Saarinen; Hockey rink, Yale University, fall 1958; E. Saarinen, arch, p. 46-53, Zodiac no 4 1959. p. 30-67, 194.
Donald Vesley, Yale Architecture and the Hockey Rink, Criterion, Jan. 1959, p. 15-18.
Walter McQuade, ‘Exploded landscape’ p. 83-90; (Rudolph, Johnson, Saarinen, Johansen, Kahn); Sibyl Moholy-Nagy, ‘Cantus firmus of Eero Saarinen’, p. 66-7.
Robin Boyd, ‘Under Tension’, Architectural Review, Nov. 1963, p 324-334.
Peter Blake, No Place Like Utopia (W. W. Norton, New York, 1993), p. 206, 259.