Ground, School of Engineering and Applied Science, Becton Center at Yale University

Lead Designer
ClientBentel & Bentel
Prize(s)1st Place in Other Interior Designs / Other Interior designs
Entry Description

The new 'Ground' cafe, at Yale's Marcel Breuer-designed Becton School, serves not only to
create social cohesion among faculty and students of the engineering school, but also to
encourage interaction between and among members of other departments in the University.
In our design, we engaged the unadorned poured-concrete volume of this former seminar room
by layering a palette of walnut planks, perforated aluminum, and cleft bluestone over the
walls, floor, and ceiling of the space. The original concrete surfaces are intentionally
visible through, and are highlighted by, the veils of our material intervention out of
respect for Breuer's unique exploration in his design of the textural possibilities of a
single material.
More broadly, we recognized that Ground could provide a locus for engineers, scientists,
artists, and humanists from the Yale community to connect with each other in part because
of its location midway between Yale's liberal arts-oriented central campus and its
science-oriented 'Science Hill' campus further north on Prospect Street. We did not
intend that the camaraderie of the varied audiences would stop at sharing coffee,
pastries, and a conversation, as our design supports creative collaborations between
different constituencies by virtue of a state-of-the-art LED 'digital canvas', nicknamed
LuxED, which any member of the Yale community can employ for their scientific or creative
work. We proposed that Yale incorporate the 23,000 diode screen as a feature that would
attract more than Yale's SEAS community while also manifesting itself as a physical
embodiment of the connection between science and art. We wrapped the LuxED across a wall
and ceiling of the cafe so that it would be visible to passersby on the notoriously grim
stretch of Prospect Street where the Becton building is located, using the LuxED's
radiance to highlight the Engineering school as a new cultural center on campus.