Photo Jul 20, 5 06 57 AM


Image: Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, designed by Rem Koolhaas (OMA, 2015).


Friday, October 20 at 7 p.m. in The Cube at Centerbrook Architects, 67 Main St., Centerbrook

Centerbrook Architects Principal Jim Childress, FAIA takes the audience on a whirlwind illustrated tour of some of the best architecture, new and old, from Cuba, St. Petersburg and Moscow. Enjoy images of wonderful examples of mid-century modern houses in Cuba, and some of the best contemporary architecture in Russia including the Boris Eifman Dance Academy, the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art and the renovated French Impressionist wing of the Hermitage Museum.

Jim Childress has won more than 60 design awards including the American Institute of Architects 1998 Architecture Firm Award. In 1994, he was selected as one of the decade’s “40 National Architects under 40” by the Architectural League of New York and Interior Magazine.  He was invested, for design, into the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects in 2001 and recognized for Professional Achievement by the Rhode Island School of Design at their 2005 Commencement. He is a long-standing member the National AIA Committee on Design, serving on its Advisory Group and as the 2015 Chair. 


garden-talk-imageFriday, February 17th at 7 p.m. at Centerbrook Architects -67 Main St. Centerbrook

Gardens have captured people’s imagination for centuries. Jim Childress will illustrate the design ideas behind some of world’s best small gardens. He will explore how they are planned and how plants are integrated. And, to escape winter for an hour – there will be plenty of images of gardens in full bloom.

This program is free and open to the public. Ample free parking is available at Centerbrook Architects- 67 Main St. Centerbrook.

SSUS“SS United States, Hallmark of Twentieth Century Design” with Chad Floyd, FAIA

Friday, January 29th at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall
Chad Floyd will tell the story of the great ocean liner SS United States, designed by marine architect Francis Gibbs and interior designer Dorothy Marckwald.  He will show how this little-known pair reimagined ocean liners and invented a new Mid-Century aesthetic that married function with glamour and changed American design forever.

Chad FloydAn award-winning architect, Floyd has designed buildings nationwide for colleges and universities, independent schools, and civic and cultural entities. Signature projects include the Palmer Events Center in Austin, Texas; the Liberty Memorial in Virginia that honors those who lost their lives on 9/11; the Nessel Wing of the Norton Art Center in Florida; an expansion and renovation of the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy Andover in  Massachusetts; and the Krieble Gallery at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme.


Chad Floyd, a partner in Centerbrook Architects, will examine the times, the tall tales, and the design of the historic (and haunted) General William Harts House in Madison. His illustrated presentation will be at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 30, at the Essex Town Hall. “A Haunted Tale of Architecture, Mayhem, and Geopolitics” will explore the historic context of the 1759 house and the fascinating people who lived in it.

The house’s design typifies the transition between the Colonial and Federal eras, but with some odd architectural twists. Built by Ensign Nathaniel Dudley, the building was sold to Captain Edward Griffin, a schooner master who sailed between Madison and the West Indies. A slave owner, Griffin engaged in considerable mischief inside the house, which is why it is said to be haunted. During the twentieth century the house was owned by a US Army General who became a key player at in historic events around the globe.

Floyd’s design credits include academic, cultural, and civic projects, among them the Palmer Events Center in Austin, Texas; the 9/11 Liberty Memorial in Virginia, and the Norton Museum of Art in Florida. Locally, his work includes the Florence Griswold Museum, the Garde Arts Center, the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, the Norma Terris Theater, Lyme Art association, the Connecticut River Museum, Hill-Stead Museum, Manchester Community College, and Mystic Seaport Museum.

poreformAmy Mielke (Ennead Architects) and Caitlin Taylor (Centerbrook Architects), winners of the 2014 Holcim Award North American Gold Medal will present their invention of a water absorptive surface and subterranean basin, called Poreform. Their system is capable of rapid saturation and slow release, and reframes water as a valuable resource rather than a liability.

The Holcim Awards is an international competition that recognizes innovative projects and future-oriented concepts on regional and global levels. A total of $2 million in prize money is awarded in each three-year cycle. The Gold Medal winners receive $100,000.

The competition seeks projects that demonstrate an ability to stretch conventional notions about sustainable building and also balance environmental, social and economic performance – while also exemplifying architectural excellence and a high degree of transferability. Their project was featured in­­­ January’s issue of Metropolis Magazine as a ‘game changer’ in sustainable design and engineering.

Friday, January 16th at 7 p.m. at the Essex Library  33 West Ave. Essex, CT 06426

Norwegian Wild Reindeer Pavilion. (Derek Hayn)

What kind of architecture do you build along the most scenic roads in the world? Centerbrook graphic designer and photographer Derek Hayn visited Norway to find out. His meandering odyssey from Oslo to the remote and picturesque Lofoten Islands (like trekking from Connecticut to Georgia minus the fjords) involved planes, trains, cars, ferries, buses, and feet. His vivid photographs capture the magnificent mingling of the built and natural environments: both the rugged seemingly surreal scenery, as well as the spare inventiveness of modern Norwegian design, albeit steeped in the traditional material, wood, for which the nation’s architecture is famous. Rather than intrude on Nature, Norway’s observation buildings, rest stops, and tourist outposts set in the hinterlands, almost without exception, seem to be logical extensions, enhancements even, of the landscape.

A wonderful example is the Trollstigen Plateau (Troll’s Ladder) by Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter: perched above a rushing cataract, with mountain peaks behind it. Mr. Hayn doesn’t overlook urban architecture, conveying and commenting on the works of acclaimed Oslo firms such as Snøhetta. Mr. Hayn manages the Centerbrook website and blog, and makes his own posters.

He narrates his lavishly illustrated architectural odyssey on Friday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Library, 33 West Ave., Essex. The event is free but registration is appreciated. Call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560 to register.

The talk is part of the Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series, which is beginning its sixth year and is one of many programs presented by the Essex Library.

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 (

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.