Last Look

Gimme shelter

An environmentally conscious building on Horse Island.

Millie Yoshida ’19MARCH  / Gray Organschi Architecture

Millie Yoshida ’19MARCH / Gray Organschi Architecture

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It started, says Peabody director David Skelly, with a composting toilet. In 2014, on his first day as director, he asked about getting one for Horse Island—at 17 acres, the largest of Connecticut’s rugged and beautiful Thimble Islands—because “I knew this place was being horribly underutilized.” Then, in 2019, Skelly partnered with architecture professor Alan Organschi ’88MArch and his students, plus students from the School of the Environment, to create a usable and eco-friendly structure on the island (which Yale has owned since 1972). Using “regenerative” design techniques and limiting the structure’s environmental impact, the team built a research center that would exist off the grid and could be taken apart, moved, and repositioned, like a giant puzzle. Additional amenities include a kitchenette, two micro-dwellings, and a translucent sliding door for blustery days. Potential visitors? Marine biologists, anthropologists, artists. “I have a feeling we’re going to get asked to support things we didn’t imagine,” says Skelly.

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