American red oak comes home to Yale

The new School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University in New England is one of the "greenest" buildings in the USA.

yale school of forestryThe new School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University in New England is one of the "greenest" buildings in the USA.  Using many approaches that are common in the UK but unusual in the extreme climate of Connecticut, Hopkins Architects have created  a carbon neutral building based on a design approach which combines orientation, high thermal mass, solar gain and good insulation to minimize the demand for energy. 

The specification of American oak for the wall linings and stairs in the building was, for project director Mike Taylor, literally the natural choice.  He says: "We discovered that Yale has its own forests in New England so it made perfect sense to use the timber in our design". So it is the rich tones of American red oak from the FSC-certified Yale Tourney forest which imparts a warm glow to the internal spaces of the building known as Kroon Hall. (Yale Tourney is the largest of seven forests donated to Yale University in the 20th century).

This is the first time that Hopkins has worked with American red oak, although the practice has used white oak extensively, including in the UK's parliamentary building Portcullis House and at Haberdashers' Hall in the city of London. "It has more character than white oak" says Taylor "and there's more variation and warmth."  Yale School of ForestryHopkins selected the timber, which was all kiln-dried, in a specification process which ensured that this variation was not too extreme. Random installation of the boards by the contractor ensures that the variation is subtle and pleasing.

Every decision about the design of Kroon Hall was informed by an environmental agenda, including features such as rainwater harvesting and
a lift whose counterweighted roped holeless hydraulics use less energy than more conventional hydraulics systems. 

Yale's president Richard C Levin has praised Kroon Hall as "Yale's most sustainable building to date" and Hopkins' carbon neutral building is entirely appropriate for a faculty which will advance the cause of good forest management and environmental practices both in the USA and across the world.


Ruth Slavid biography

Ruth Slavid is a freelance architectural writer, editor and consultant. She is the author of Wood Architecture (2005) and Wood Houses (2006) published by Laurence King as well as Micro (2007) and Extreme Architecture: Building for Challenging Environments (2009). She is currently writing a book on the use of timber in existing buildings, for the Timber Research and Development Association.

Ruth worked for The Architects' Journal for 15 years, in roles including deputy editor, online editor and editor of AJ Specification. Since becoming freelance in October 2008, she has written for AJ Specification, BSD, Building Design, The Guardian, New Civil Engineer, Specification Magazine, and Stadia. She worked on the exhibition "Major London Issues" 2009 at New London Architecture, ran the website at the World Architecture Festival and is on the editorial panel of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment.
She has a degree in Metallurgy and Materials Science from the University of Cambridge.


Notes to Editor:

American Hardwood Export Council
The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) is the leading international trade association for the US hardwood industry, representing the committed exporters among US hardwood companies and all the major US hardwood product trade associations. AHEC concentrates it efforts on providing architects, specifiers, designers and end-users with technical information on the range of species, products and sources of supply.

AHEC produces a full range of technical publications which are available free of charge by visiting or by faxing (44) 20 7626 4222.

For more press information, please contact:

Lucy Peacock
American Hardwood Export Council
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Fax:    (44) 20 7626 4222