Friday, September 22nd at 7 p.m. in The Cube at Centerbrook Architects
We’re honored to welcome Rhode Island School of Design Professor Jim Barnes as he kicks off the 10th year of our Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series.

Our experience of historic houses is most often framed by exterior appearances. We come to identify and understand historic time periods and changing styles of architecture through building forms, rooflines, materials, and even paint colors. These are the elements of a public realm accessible to all. Exterior patterns can build whole neighborhoods and clearly reflect our culture’s constantly shifting shared values.

We know less well interior spatial patterns, the private domestic realm hidden from view. Yet we know the power of interior spatial arrangement to convey cultural values. Room placement, stairway arrangements and fireplaces are among the many tools that architects and builders use to shape and express domestic life. This illustrated talk will address the changing styles of historic houses in an historic Providence neighborhood by comparing the shifting patterns of exterior forms and interior floor plans from the mid-19th century to the beginning of the 20th century.

Jim Barnes is an Architect and Professor of Architecture at RISD. He lives with his wife Victoria in a Queen Anne period home in the Elmwood Historic District of Providence.

This program is free and open to the public. Centerbrook Architects is located at 67 Main St. in Centerbrook.


Friday, January 20th at 7 p.m. at Centerbrook Architects 67 Main St. Centerbrook

2016 marked the centennial anniversary of the Yale School of Architecture. In recognition of this occasion, Jimmy Stamp, co-author with former YSOA Dean Robert A.M. Stern of the book Pedagogy and Place: 100 Years of Architecture Education at Yale (Yale Press, 2016) will trace the development of the School’s pedagogy alongside a critical overview of the succession of buildings designed to house Yale’s architecture program. Stamp will draw parallels between historic moments in Yale’s history and things that have happened more recently.

Jimmy Stamp is a writer at Robert . M. Stern Architects whose work has appeared in The Guardian, Smithsonian, and the Journal of Architecture Education.

This program is free and open to the public.

Benson2015 (2)Architectural Historian Professor Chuck Benson presents “Great Women Architects and Designers of the 20th and 21st Centuries” at the Essex Town Hall on Friday, March 27 at 7 p.m.

His illustrated presentation focuses on historical luminaries, such as Marion Mahoney Griffin and Mary Colter, as well as prominent contemporary architects like Billy Tsien, Zaha Hadid, and Jeanne Gang. By rising to the topmost level of a historically male-dominated profession, these women and many others like them have blazed the trail for others to follow.

Dr. Benson has been teaching Art and Architectural History for more than twenty five years at various universities and has led groups to explore iconic places and buildings in America, Italy, England, France, Germany, Greece, Turkey, and elsewhere. His lecture credits include MOMA, Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. He studied the history of art and architecture at Yale, and holds advanced degrees from Columbia University. He also has studied at Cambridge and Oxford.

His talk is free and part of the Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series, which is one of many programs that are offered regularly by the Essex Library. Please call the library at (860) 767-1560 to register. Sponsored by Centerbrook Architects, the series is in its seventh year.

“The Art of Creative Engagement in Architecture”
Friday, February 21st at 7 p.m. at the Essex Library

Barry Svigals, whose New Haven firm was recently chosen to design Newtown’s new elementary school, will give an illustrated presentation on the art of creative engagement in architecture. His talk will discuss the joys of the collaborative process, focusing on collaboration as a tool, and he will employ several interactive exercises to identify common pitfalls of group interaction that impede open communication and short circuit creativity.

Svigals coauthored a new book, “Collaboration,” and is a proponent of creative thinking and artistic stimulation as a means to achieving breakthrough architecture and human performance. A graduate of the Yale School of Architecture, he studied sculpture at the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Paris.

He founded Svigals + Partners, an architecture and art firm based in New Haven, in 1983. Its portfolio encompasses sculpture, furniture design, and campus planning. Major buildings completed by the firm often feature large-scale sculptural works by Mr. Svigals, including the Carroll School of Management at Boston College and several public schools in New Haven. Among its clients are Yale, Pepsi and Kodak.

“Resilient Design or Designing for Mother Nature’s Worst Moments”
Friday, January 31st at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall

ronnetterileyLeading New York City architect Ronnette Riley discusses her work in the Far Rockaways of Queens, where the firm that she founded is involved in designing buildings that can better withstand the next Superstorm Sandy. Her illustrated presentation, “Resilient Design or Designing for Mother Nature’s Worst Moments,” addresses how architecture can adapt to changing conditions and help build structures that can maintain, or regain functionality in the face of stress or disturbance.

Her work and that of her firm, Ronnette Riley Architect, have been featured in numerous publications and won over 60 design awards. Its portfolio encompasses an impressive range of institutional, corporate, hospitality, retail and residential projects. Recently recognized projects include the redesign of 120,000 square feet for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Before founding her firm in 1987, Ms. Riley spent eight years in the architectural practice of Philip Johnson and John Burgee. She served as Project Architect for the “Lipstick Building” at 53rd and Third in Manhattan, and was responsible for design through final construction. She is past chair of the American Institute of Architects Committee on Design and is currently Co-Chair of the New York Chapter of the AIA, Design Awards Committee, and is currently teaching as an adjunct professor at the School of Visual Arts.

Please call the Essex Library at (860) 767-1560 to register for this free event.

A Quick and Quirky History (and future) of Architecture

Friday, November 15th, 2013 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Library

Architect, artist, and design proselytizer Michael A. Mense, FAIA whose office is in Anchorage, Alaska, will give a pithy and engaging history of architecture on Friday, November 15th at 7 p.m.  at the Essex Library. He will describe the changing role of the architect in society and the resulting wariness of the American public. His illustrated talk will touch on his belief that there is a need to redefine both how architecture is practiced and how architects are educated.

Mr. Mense, FAIA, founded mmenseArchitects in 1979 and has designed 1,250 projects in Alaska and the lower 48. He has served as an awards juror for the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and currently is a member of the AIA Committee on Design Advisory Group, which he chaired in 2012. Previously, he was a Trustee of the Anchorage Museum Association, Chairman of the Anchorage Urban Design Commission, President of KSKA Public Radio, and occasional instructor at Anchorage Community College. The Anchorage Museum and the International Gallery of Contemporary Art (Anchorage) have displayed his art.

Essex Library’s Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series opens its sixth year with a screening of the film “Modern Tide” by Emmy-award winning producer and director Jake Gorst. “Modern Tide: Midcentury Architecture on Long Island,” explores the disappearance of its rich architectural heritage. Long Island’s East End, in particular, was once a testing ground for modernist architecture, a place for experimental residential design practiced by the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright, Philip Johnson, and Marcel Breuer. The gradual destruction of this legacy to make way for lavish “McMansions” is characterized by Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Paul Goldberger as a tragedy.

The screening and discussion of “Modern Tide” will be on Friday, October 25 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Centerbrook Architects offices; Mr. Gorst, who is a contributing writer to VOX, HOME Miami and Modernism magazines, will introduce the 90-minute film and answer questions afterwards. Click here to view a trailer.

Please call the Essex Library at (860) 767-1560 to register (youressexlibrary.org).

Centerbrook Architects is located at 67 Main Street in Centerbrook.

Friday, May 3rd at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall
RobertOrrIn the rapidly-decaying landscape of our urban and small town centers, where vacancy and stagnation dominate, the rhetoric coming from municipal leaders about economic regeneration seems to be mostly talk and no action. Why? Some suggest that the problem is over-regulation. Could reversing statutory barriers that seemingly guarantee blight, and replacing them with positive incentives aimed at creating real neighborhoods, regenerate these ghost-town downtowns into bustling mixed-use, mixed-income places to live, work, learn and play?

Orr imageThis thought-provoking topic will be the subject of a talk for the Essex Library by architect Robert Orr, FAIA, LEED®, a part of the continuing Centerbrook Architects Lecture series. Robert Orr is an award-winning architect and planner present at the first sip of coffee that became the grounds for the New Urbanism in the mid-1970s. His collaboration with Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk at Seaside, Florida in 1982 was honored by Time Magazine as “…the most astonishing design achievement of its era and one might hope the most influential.” Robert furnished more than 6,000 hours of mostly pro-bono services to storm-ravaged Gulf Coast Mississippi and New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. A Founder of the Seaside Institute, a think-tank on community design and development, Robert also serves on Boards of many other vision-based organizations in Florida, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, Rhodes Island, Washington, Vermont, Maine and Connecticut.

Friday April 12th at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall

Filmmaker Jake Gorst, who also happens to be Geller’s grandson will speak about Geller (1924-2011), who designed hundreds of innovative and influential modern structures during an important era of 20th century creativity and expressionism. Geller’s association with industrial designer Raymond Loewy led to significant contributions to historic structures such as New York’s famed Lever House and The World Trade Center. His freelance vacation home architecture reflected a lighthearted playfulness and a mastery of the balance between fantasy and everyday reality. The Wall Street Journal architecture editorialist Alastair Gordon described Geller as the “architect of happiness”.

Gorst is an Emmy® award winning producer and director Recent film productions include the Emmy award-winning documentary, “Farmboy” (2006), currently in national PBS broadcast distribution, “The Rise and Fall of Books”, “Journeyman Architect: The Life and Work of Donald Wexler”, and associate production on “Andrew Geller: A Spatial Encounter”.
Take a look at the trailer for Modern Tide, directed by Jake Gorst.

centerbrooklogoClick here to see the entire Centerbrook Lecture Series schedule for 2012-2013.

Friday, March 29th at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall

The erudite and witty Dr. Chuck Benson — architect, professor, lecturer —will speak on “Hewn Architecture From Living Stone”— examples of buildings and whole cities carved into Mother Earth can be found world-wide; pictured here is Petra in Jordan, A UNESCO heritage site.

Dr. Benson has been teaching Art and Architectural History for more than twenty five years at various universities and colleges across the United States, and has led groups to explore and visit a variety of sites to Italy, England, Scotland, France, Spain, Austria, Germany, Greece and Turkey.  He also has led art and architecture trips to New York City, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles.

His lecture credits include the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, MOMA, the Whitney Museum, the Getty in Los Angeles, the Art Institute in Chicago, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.  He studied the history of art and architecture at Yale as an undergraduate, and holds advanced degrees from Columbia University.  He also has studied at Cambridge and Oxford, as well as the University of Goettingen in Germany.

Dr. Benson currently serves as the Director of Colorado Operations, and Head of Design for a Group that specializes in the architecture and engineering of Satellite Operations Centers and Mission Control Stations.  He currently teaches as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, and has taught at the Colorado College and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Our Essex Library audiences have enjoyed his lectures on Edward Lutyens, Gian Loernzo Bernini and Antonio Gaudi.

Click here to register for this program.

Click here to see the Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series 2012 – 2013, the 2011 -2012 Lecture Series and links to YouTube films of specific Lectures.