Barry Svigals leaves his mark on New Haven architecture

Barry Svigals leaves his mark on New Haven architecture
A view of the College and Crown building as workers continued with finishing touches recently. // © Joe Amarante

It’s OK to stare at the front of the new apartments called College and Crown: A Centerplace. Barry Svigals wouldn’t have it any other way.

The future of urban living in the Elm City is arriving daily in the “mixed-use” buildings going up at places like Chapel and Howe streets and College and Crown streets — affordably built complexes but with luxury touches and fewer parking spaces than were required two or three decades ago when car culture ruled.

The College and Crown building (opening soon) combines an unusual hybrid composition — steel on the first-floor retail level and wood frame covered by brick-look veneer on the top four levels — and a prominent art installation created by its chief architect. By hand.

“I think people will feel comfortable walking past this building,” Svigals said in an interview in the firm’s Orange Street offices. “The sculpture … is made by hand. It’s made by a human being.”

That would be Svigals, founder and managing partner of Svigals + Partners, who said he doesn’t know of any other architects who actually make art like this for buildings they design.

The opportunity to adorn a building presents itself when your artist is also the guy who draws up the plans. But the art must serve the mission of the building and developers.[]