Since it’s conception in 1967, the Jim Vlock First Year Building Project has offered generations of Yale architecture students the opportunity to engage directly with the physical, constructed reality of their intellectual design pursuits and commit to positive social action within the built environment. The First Year class is divided into teams, and throughout the spring semester develops a series of design proposals. Ultimately, one proposal is selected and developed through classwork into a full-scale deliverable. With varying programmatic requirements throughout the program’s 53-year history, recent iterations have focused on affordable housing in New Haven’s economically-distressed neighborhoods.

The 2019 Building Project continues a collaboration between the Yale School of Architecture and Columbus House, a non-profit organization that provides solutions to homelessness in the New Haven area. Columbus House provides emergency shelters, in addition to a range of housing and services designed to assist those experiencing or at risk of homelessness to make steps towards housing independence.

This year’s prompt invited the design of a single, three-unit dwelling to be located in New Haven’s Hill neighborhood. Each proposal tackled challenges of concise residential footprints and replicability, as well as issues of urban infill and affordable, stick-frame construction.

The Yale School of Architecture class of 2021 acknowledges the building project of 2019 is situated upon traditional indigenous land. The spatial territories include those of the Quinnipiac, Paugussett and other Algonquin speaking peoples.

In collaboration with the Yale New England Indian Papers Series (Native Northeast Research Collaborative) it is understood the building project of 2019 is located on the main village of Quinnipiac (“long-water country” in the Quiripy language). As do many tribal communities in New England, the tribe draws its name from their homeland’s landscape. The Quinnipiac/Quillipiac and their ancestors inhabited what is presently the Quinnipiac River watershed in south-central Connecticut, utilizing the environment’s resources on a seasonal basis. While the greater New Haven area was the territorial homeland of the Quinnipiac, other tribal communities had association with the land. In 1638 Quinnipiac Leaders and English authorities entered an article of agreement where the selling of the Quinnipiac village took place in exchange for land east of the Quinnipiac River.

Click below to see the annotated transcripts of the treaties:

As the inaugural class to recognize the historical fabric of the site it is understood the discussions of space and place continue to effect the enduring presence of indigenous peoples who have stewarded this land throughout generations.