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David S. Ingalls Rink

Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, 1958. Eero Saarinen, architect.


Renovations to the David S. Ingalls Rink at Yale University stayed true to the original design by Eero Saarinen.
Yale University, David S. Ingalls Rink. Eero Saarinen, architect.

Yale University, David S. Ingalls Rink. Eero Saarinen, architect.

Photograph: Michael Marsland
David S. Ingalls Rink
Also Known As: The Yale Whale
Location: Yale University, Prospect and Sachem Streets, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
Architect: Eero Saarinen
Restoration: Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates
Dates: Designed in 1956, opened in 1958, renovations in 1991, major restoration in 2009

About the David S. Ingalls Rink

Casually known as the Yale Whale, the David S. Ingalls Rink is a quintessential Saarinen design with an arching humpbacked roof and swooping lines that suggest the speed and grace of ice skaters. The elliptical building is a tensile structure. Its oak roof is supported by a network of steel cables suspended from a reinforced concrete arch. Plaster ceilings form a graceful curve above the upper seating area and perimeter walkway. The expansive interior space is free of columns. Glass, oak, and unfinished concrete combine to create a striking visual effect.

A renovation in 1991 gave Ingalls Rink a new concrete refrigerant slab and refurbished locker rooms. However, years of exposure rusted the reinforcements in the concrete. Yale University commissioned the firm Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates to undertake a major restoration which was completed in 2009. An estimated $23.8 million went toward the project.

Ingalls Rink Restoration:

  • Constructed a 1,200-square-meter (12,700- square-foot) underground addition containing locker rooms, offices, training rooms, and other facilities.
  • Installed a new insulated roof and preserved the original oak roof timbers.
  • Refinished the original wooden benches and added corner seating.
  • Refinished or replaced the exterior wooden doors.
  • Installed new, energy-efficient lighting.
  • Installed new press boxes and state-of-the-art sound equipment.
  • Replaced original plate glass with insulated glass.
  • Installed a new ice slab and expanded the usefulness of the rink, allowing year-round skating.

Fast Facts About Ingalls Rink:

  • Seats: 3,486 spectators
  • Maximum ceiling height: 23 meters (75.5 feet)
  • Roof "Backbone": 91.4 meters (300 feet)

The hockey rink is named for former Yale hockey captains David S. Ingalls (1920) and David S. Ingalls, Jr. (1956). The Ingalls family provided most of the funding for the Rink's construction.

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