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A gateway site connecting the combined 400-acre campuses of Choate and Rosemary Hall prep schools

Index to Projects in Connecticut

Wallingford, Connecticut

Gross Floor Area
67,000 s/f + 9,000s/f courtyard

The Choate School, Wallingford, Connecticut

Time Frame
Planning: 2/68
Construction: 4/70
Completion: 5/72

Paul Mellon Center for the Arts, Choate School

Wallingford, Connecticut
Completed 1973


Lead Designers:



I. M. Pei
Ralph Heisel


Preparatory School Center for Theater, Art and Music

Click on image to enlarge

This project was commissioned by the Choate School for boys as it prepared to adopt the Rosemary Hall school for girls in an early venture into coeducation. Although the building and merger were independent initiatives, they became inseparable, the Arts Center providing the most visible evidence of the union. Designed as a sculptural gateway between the two campuses, the building provides a common ground for students to meet and for the venerable prep schools to unite.

The building is a rectangular volume carved open and pulled apart to create two self-contained units diagonally bisected by a broad outdoor path. A triangular teaching wing at one end (housing studios, lounges and a ground-floor Student Union) balances a curved theater wing that reflects the radiating seating inside. The two wings are physically separated at grade but visually interrelated by window walls that frame the courtyard and reveal the activities taking place inside. (The wings are also linked by an underground corridor with shared facilities.)

The design permits students to perform, practice, study, create and socialize in a single building at the same time, enhanced rather than impaired by the adjacency. The underlying goal was to entice those not interested in the arts to use the building casually, without commitment, and in the process to expose them to art and encourage their active participation.


Major Components

2,200 s/f lobby; flexible 400840 seat theater (7,500 s/f); 1,800 s/f recital hall; 1,800 s/f experimental theater; scenery shop, Green Room, support; 3,500 s/f student union; art studios; lounges; classrooms; practice rooms; storage; 9,000 s/f courtyard; underground corridor




American Institute of Architects:
National Honor Award



New York Association of Consulting Engineers: First Prize for Structure in Building


I. M. Pei & Partners services

Architectural Services; Interior Design



Olaf Soot Consulting Engineers, New York, NY


Mechanical / Electrical

Campbell & Friedland, Greenvale, NY



Bolt, Beranek & Newman, New York, NY



Joseph R. Gangemi, Pat DeBellis, NY



Photo credits

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