Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School

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New Haven, Connecticut, USA
140,000 square feet / 13,000 square meters

Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School is a state-of-the-art facility for performance and education in the midst of New Haven’s arts and entertainment district. It includes a full-sized public theater, a black box experimental theater, and exhibition spaces, as well as all of the elements of a traditional high school. To maintain a lively street presence, the building has retail stores on the ground floor and public entrances to the theater lobby and galleries.

One block from the New Haven Green, the school is close to theaters, art galleries, and Yale University’s architecture, art, music, and drama schools. The high school’s theaters, exhibit spaces, and studios are shared with local arts institutions, encouraging collaboration.

The building’s design is a modern interpretation of traditional urban school architecture, adapted to a busy commercial neighborhood. The long College Street façade is a composition of brick masses, glass volumes, and copper planes. At the corner of College and Crown Streets, a double-height glass dance studio is a “marquee” for the arts-focused program. Similarly, the abstracted maple, oak, and elm leaves silkscreened on the insulated glass panels of the College Street façade reference the drawing, painting, and printmaking studios inside. This patterned glass helps reduce the building’s energy consumption by letting in light while reducing solar gain.

The heart of the school is a 350-seat theater, complete with orchestra and balcony seating, an orchestra pit, scene shop, costume storage, dressing rooms, and loading dock. The theater features a sprung stage with a full fly loft, professional theater lighting, and a projection and control booth. In addition, the school includes rehearsal rooms, a ceramic studio, a photography darkroom, a graphic lab, a score library, a keyboard lab, a film and lecture hall, and creative writing rooms, plus a gymnasium, cafeteria, and classrooms.