Scene on Campus

Remaking Science Hill

The green space known as Sachem's Wood gets a redesign.

Photograph by Carl Vernlund and Bob Handelman

Photograph by Carl Vernlund and Bob Handelman

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At the south end of Yale’s Science Hill is an open space known as Sachem’s Wood—the former estate of James Hillhouse ’73 (1754–1832), whose friends called him “the Sachem.” His descendants gave the property to Yale with the provision that no buildings would be built there. For decades, it was a scrubby plot with steep paths and an erosion problem. But the university recently got serious about giving Sachem’s Wood more of a sense of place.

In a renovation completed last winter, the landscape architects of James Corner Field Operations created a large ovoid central lawn surrounded by dense colorful plantings. The paths were designed to improve connections and allow wheelchair access up the hill; a terrace was built at the top, outside the new pavilion and café next to Kline Tower (at upper right in the photo). The result is what planners hope will be a more social outdoor space in a long-neglected corner of the campus. Says Kari Nordstrom ’80MArch, director of project architecture and design at the Office of Facilities: “Now Science Hill has its own green.”

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