Studio Ben Pell


Fall 2011

This project is an extension to the Peabody Museum of Natural History. Dedicated entirely to sea creatures, the building is organized according to the layers of the ocean. The entrance is found at the top of Science Hill, on the edge of Philip Johnson's project for the Kline Biology Tower. Vistors descend through the building, moving sequentially through the Sunlight Zone, the Twilight Zone, the Midnight Zone, and the Abyssopelagic Zone, each level leading deeper underground. At the lowest level, visitors have descended sixty feet. However, visitors will not find themselves completely underground, but rather level with the foot of the hill. A vertical cut opens along the east side of the museum, allowing the replica of a whale hanging in the center of the space to be visible from Whitney Avenue, a major New Haven thoroughfare.


The museum negotiates the relationship between Philip Johnson’s project for the Kline Biology Tower, the open green space facing Hillhouse Avenue and the heavy foot traffic moving east-west across the site, as the majority of Yale's graduate students commute from a residential neighborhood east of the site to Yale’s campus.