Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series


Lecture Series 2018-2019

Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series: Connecticut Architecture

Friday, February 15, 2019 at 7 p.m in The Cube at Centerbrook Architects
The Essex Library is honored to announce the eleventh year of its lecture series in collaboration with and sponsored by Centerbrook Architects. Kicking it off will be author and architectural historian Christopher Wigren. Connecticut boasts some of the oldest and most distinctive architecture in New England, from Colnial churches and Modernist houses to refurbished nineteenth-century factories. Architectural Historian Christopher Wigren’s recent book, Connecticut Architecture: stories of 100 places is a guide to this rich and diverse architectural heritage, introducing readers to key architectural features and trends and relating buildings to the local and regional histories they represent. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing after the talk.

Christopher Wigren is an architectural historian and Deputy Director of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation. His articles and essays have appeared in the Hartford Courant, the New Haven Register, and Connecticut Explored magazine.

Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series Presents Architect Caitlin Taylor With Provisional Architecture: Designing Just Food Systems

Friday, March 1, 2019 at 7 p.m. in The Cube at Centerbrook Architects
Our collective human need to produce, process, transport, prepare, and eat food has a powerful transformative effect on our world – ecologically, economically, culturally, epidemiologically, historically, food shapes the world we live in. Food is inextricably linked to housing, to education, to health, to environmental change, to local economies, to global industry, and to racial and social injustice, and today we operate within a food system that is designed to exclude and oppress. Food access is spatial and temporal, and agricultural production colonizes vast swaths of our landscape.

As an architect with a background in organic agriculture, Design Director Caitlin Taylor brings to MASS Design Group an interdisciplinary focus on food justice, agriculture, and food systems. She is currently directing projects that focus on rural infrastructures of regenerative food production, equitable food access, and cultivation of food culture in disinvested cities. Taylor will present some of the ongoing food and farming projects on the boards at MASS including the Good Shepherd Conservancy in Kansas, a new national network for school kitchen design, a community-run food hall as catalyst for urban redevelopment in Poughkeepsie, New York, and an industrial scale grain mill in Senegal.

Prior to joining MASS, Caitlin worked at Centerbrook Architects and directed an independent practice focused on water infrastructure. Caitlin lives with her family in East Haddam, Connecticut, where they own and operate an organic vegetable and cut flower farm. She has taught advanced architecture studios at the Yale School of Architecture and Columbia Graduate School for Architecture, Planning & Preservation.

Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series Presents: The Harvard Five: Mid-century Modern In New Canaan with Architect William Earls

Friday, April 12 at 7 p.m. in The Cube at Centerbrook Architects
Since the fifties, “the Harvard Five” has been the catchphrase for the five architects- Marcel Breuer, Landis Gores, John Johansen, Philip Johnson and Eliot Noyes who all built houses for themselves and for clients in New Canaan, Connecticut. Other architects, well known (Frank Lloyd Wright, for example) and not so well known, also contributed significant modern houses that elicited strong reactions from nearly everyone who saw them and are still astonishing today. Architect William Earls will discuss the significance of the architecture that was built in New Canaan between 1949 and 1960 and place the work in its historical context between early modernism of the 1930’s and postmodernism of the 1970’s. It appears that New Canaan was not just another suburban enclave of modern houses. This talk will illuminate why and what these architects did to usher in a new era of architecture.

William D. Earls is the author of “The Harvard Five in New Canaan: Mid-Century Modern Houses by Marcel Breuer, Landis Gores, John Johansen, Philip Johnson Eliot Noyes” published by W. W. Norton and Co. 2006. He has lectured and written numerous articles on modern architecture.

Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series Continues With: Three Gardens: Garden Design In The Country House Era Presented By Landscape Architect Tracey Miller

Friday, May 17th at 7 p.m. in The Cube at Centerbrook Architects 67 Main St. Centerbrook
New York Landscape Architect Tracey Miller will present a lively overview of residential landscape and garden design through the lens of three iconic designs from the late nineteenth century: Dumbarton Oaks, Olana and Naumkeag. The Country Place Era occurred at the end of the nineteenth century as many Americans, fortified with newly earned wealth from the industrial revolution, took to the country to build estates. It was a movement more than it was a style and aesthetic preferences varied. Focusing on Naumkeag, Dumbarton Oaks and Olana, Miller will explore landscape design as it relates to history, site, society and client. Studying precedent helps us think about our own designs. One learns from the masters as we study their execution of detail, selection of plants and the techniques they employed to build upon a site’s existing features in order to evoke its ‘spirit of place,’ or Genius Loci.

Tracey Miller has a Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Virginia. She has had the pleasure of assisting clients with the design and implementation of unique environments for over 20 years.

Lecture Series 2017-2018

Historic House

Historic Houses: An Architect’s View Inside and Out with RISD Professor Jim Barnes

Friday, September 22, 2017 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.

Jim Childress, FAIA Presents: The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!

Friday, October 20, 2017 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.


Centerbrook 4 Author Talk with Jeff Riley, Chad Floyd, Mark Simon, Jim Childress and Editor John Morris Dixon

Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 6:30 p.m.
Centerbrook Architects was conceived in 1975 as a community of architects working together to advance American place-making and the craft of building. Recipients of the AIA Firm Award, they are entering their fifth decade of designing buildings across the country. Centerbrook 4, represents their fourth book on architecture, four decades of practice, and the four current partners – who are each recognized as AIA Fellows, in design. Each Partner will reveal formative ideas behind select projects to help convey how their design and attention to details make buildings memorable.


Architecture Inside Out with Architect/Photographer Tom Rossiter, FAIA

Friday, December 8, 2017 at 7 p.m. in The Cube at Centerbrook Architects
Tom Rossiter has photographed the work of many of the most acclaimed architects in the world. A registered architect and a Fellow in the American Institute of Architects, Tom brings a wealth of experience to making images. For Tom, often a single image simply cannot tell enough about the architecture to satisfy him as, in his words, it is a repository for cultural memory, identity, aspirations, trauma, economics, technology, language, power, preference, art, and so many more ideas.

At college, Rhode Island School of Design, while studying architecture, he was taught to render buildings in the style of The Ecole des Beaux Arts analytiques. This is a drawing that in a single page can describe a concept for an entire building, often including plans, sections, elevations, cut away sections illustrating the interior, reflected ceiling plans, etc. On a recent trip to Paris he was inspired to test this technique out photographically on Opera Garnier. To his delight the result was powerful and he has continued to develop the idea in a series focused on great buildings of the world which he calls Architecture Inside Out.

Rossiter recently photographed the book “Building Ideas, An Architectural Guide to the University of Chicago”. As a companion to this book he filmed many videos of the famous architects involved in the key buildings. He was a founding member of McClier and, as President, helped lead it to the 550-person design build firm it became. At the Rhode Island School of Design, Rossiter earned a BFA and a Bachelor of Architecture as well as held an internship in the Office of Charles and Ray Eames. Tom has served extensively on not-for profit boards. He is presently serving on the board of The Art Institute’s Society for Architecture and Design.

Straight Talk On Smart Gardens: Why And How Using Native Plants Really Matters” With Landscape Designer Diana Drake

Friday, January 12, 2018 at 7 p.m. in the Cube at Centerbrook Architects 
In recent years, the effort to use native plants has become a subject of such great controversy among the landscape architecture community that it’s become something of a flashpoint, a source of such disagreement that merely hearing the words ‘native’ and ‘plants’ in the same sentence can cause reasonable, seasoned professionals to curl their lips in disdain.  New York Landscape Designer Diana Drake hopes to use this opportunity to share why she considers it important, from an ecological standpoint, to use native plants, and to talk about some of the differences inherent in designs that take advantage of using them.

Diana Drake has worked as a landscape designer for two decades, managing large and small public projects with the firms of Judith Heintz Landscape Architecture and Wallace Roberts & Todd in New York City, specializing in selecting the best-suited plants for outdoor spaces, whether campus, park, public plaza, rooftop garden or residential property.  Since 2013 she’s been working cooperatively with Judith Heintz and Napat Sitisara as sassafras55. Her commitment to using native plant species deepened as she taught planting design at Columbia University with Darrel Morrison, adding to her earlier stint at the Center for Plant Conservation, and her hands-on training at Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum.  With sassafras55, Ms. Drake currently is involved with the all-native plantings of East Midtown Plaza in Manhattan, the Queens Borough Municipal Parking Field, and the Kearny Point Industrial Park Landscape in New Jersey. Throughout this entire period, she’s been learning first-hand via her experiments in her garden lab in Old Lyme. She holds a Masters in Landscape Architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design.

List of Additional Resources from Diana Drake

Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series Presents: New Canaan Modern with Architect Fred Noyes, FAIA

Friday, February 23, 2018 at 7 p.m. in The Cube at Centerbrook Architects
The Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series continues with architect Fred Noyes who will present an illustrated lecture about his childhood home, the Noyes House built in 1954 in New Canaan. Designed by Eliot Noyes and included on the National Register of Historic Places, the house’s unique composition — two enclosures for public and private functions connected by an open-air courtyard — remains highly provocative. Fred will analyze the intent and design of the house in comparison to the Glass House built in 1949, designed by Philip Johnson.

Eliot Noyes was one of an informal network of Modern architects later known as the “Harvard Five” (Marcel Breuer, Landis Gores, John Johansen, and Philip Johnson) who moved to the bucolic town of New Canaan and established what would become a center of experimental Modern residential design. In addition to his work as an architect, Noyes was the first Director of Industrial Design at the Museum of Modern Art and an influential industrial designer who created IBM typewriters, Mobil gas pumps, and Cummins diesel engines, among other projects.

Frederick Noyes, FAIA, is immersed in his twined passions of architecture, biology, and education. For over thirty years, he has run his own architectural firm and designed everything from houses to hospitals. He was elected to the AIA College of Fellows (2001) and awarded an honorary Doctorate of Education from the Boston Architectural College in 2007. Mr. Noyes has remained close to academia, both as a student (a decade of graduate studies in biology) and a teacher (visual studies at Harvard; lecturer in biochemistry at Harvard Extension; and biology at Miles and Wheelock Colleges). Associated with the Boston Architectural College (BAC) since 1974, Mr. Noyes has taught at all levels at the BAC, chaired its Board of Directors from 1995-1999, and is currently an Overseer.

The State Of Play with Spencer Luckey

Friday, March 23, 2018 at 7 p.m. in The Cube at Centerbrook Architects
Luckey LLC was founded in 1985 by Thomas Walker Luckey, an artist, sculptor and architect renowned for his one-of-a-kind climbing sculptures. Thomas’ son Spencer was drawn back into the family business shortly after he graduated from Yale when his father suffered a catastrophic accident in 2005. Today, there are over 80 unique Luckey Climbers across the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

The designs look to amaze with feats of nontraditional, unexpected engineering. From a Luckey Climber that rests entirely on a tiny ball, to one that doesn’t touch the ceiling or the floor, Spencer told, “There are a zillion simpler solutions, but I kept pushing to make it as illogical and pleasurable an object as possible.” The Luckey Climber elevates play to an art form with its masterful engineering and design. The sculptures encourage physical activity and offer the sort of imaginative play experience important for intellectual development in children.

“Cranbrook School of Art Reconsidered … An American Original”  with Professor Chuck Benson

Friday, April 20, 2018 at 7 p.m. in The Cube at Centerbrook Architects
So much of what we consider mid-century Modernism & Expressionism is due in large part to the School of Design & Architecture that Eliel Saarinen founded at Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan just outside of Detroit. Here, a completely holistic art academy was created that merged art, design, architecture, product and furniture design and so much more with the hiring of Eliel Saarinen to design and direct the many schools and academies on the expanded campus. Eero Saarinen, Charles and Ray Eames, Florence Knoll, Harry Bertoia, and Alexander Girard are but a few of the luminaries that came from the Cranbrook Philosophy of Design and were closely involved with its’ spread across the United States. Come join us as we delve into this fascinating “engine of design and creativity” of the last century.

Professor Chuck Benson has been teaching the History of Art, Architecture, and Design for over 30 years. Chuck has also been an architectural consultant with various architectural firms on a variety of projects, most recently at the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind. For the past several years he has been teaching both art and architecture classes and expanded art & architecture series at both the Bemis School and at the Colorado Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, The Estes Park Arts Center, and The Benet Hill Monastery.

Lecture Series 2016-2017

SteveWantaCenterbrook Architects Lecture Series Presents Stephen Wanta

Friday, September 23, 2016 at 7 p.m. at Centerbrook Architects, 67 Main St., Centerbrook
What do a former Vermont residence of a Phish band member, a 96-foot custom motor yacht, a loft inspired by the relationship between Judaic Mysticism and Quantum Mechanics, law offices using strategies similar to those of architect/artist Gordon Matta-Clark (with a bit of the “Terminator” thrown in) and a penthouse combination in “one of the 10 most haunted buildings in New York” have in common?  The answer is New York-based architect Stephen Wanta, who will begin the ninth year of the Library’s Architecture Lecture Series on Friday, September 23 at 7 p.m. in The Cube at Centerbrook Architects, 67 Main St. in Centerbrook.

WantaaptAmong Mr. Wanta’s commercial projects are film and sound production facilities, restaurants, numerous private law offices, and showrooms and trade show exhibition booths for the home furnishings industry. The firm has also designed several museum stores, their pop-up locations and retail outlets. Mr. Wanta has designed and executed well over 100 residential projects with budgets from less than $100,000 to over $5 million in New York City, with a number of others across the country and in Europe.  The firm is just completing its second long-range motor yacht project; built in Xiamen, China and commissioned in Florida.

Stephen Wanta received his Bachelor of Architecture Degree from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1980 where he received the Reynolds Aluminum School Prize in 1979 and 1980 and The American Institute of Architects Certificate of Merit. He has worked at the offices of Machado & Silvetti, Rafael Vinoly Architects, and at Peter Marino Architect and Associates. Mr. Wanta has taught and lectured at a number of schools, including Columbia University, the Rhode Island School of Design, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

HughFerrissrenderingofimaginarycityThe Vision & Architectural Designs of Hugh Ferriss and Lee Lawrie with Chuck Benson

Friday, October 14, 2016 at 7 p.m. at Centerbrook Architects, 67 Main St., Centerbrook
Both Ferriss and Lawrie had an enormous effect upon architectural philosophical thinking and ultimate execution in the early to early-middle part of the twentieth century in America. Hugh Ferriss became famous for his dark, brooding charcoal renderings of not only zoning studies for sky-scrapers in the City of New York but his renderings for other well-known architects and firms practicing in that same period of time. Lee Lawrie distinguished himself as being the lead designer and lead sculptor for most all of the architectural sculptures at Rockefeller Center, as well as work at Yale University on the Sterling Library, The State Capitol of Nebraska, the City & County of Los Angeles Library, along with numerous buildings across this great land. He was perhaps most known for his collaboration with the architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue on many of his firms’ projects.

Chuck Benson has been an art and architectural historian-as well as an architectural consultant, for a number of decades. He still teaches and presents programs at such venues as the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, the PILLAR Institute for Life-Long Learning in Colorado, The Art Center of Estes Park, and guest lectures at several venues around the country – including the Essex Library’s Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series. Chuck just recently returned from leading an art & architectural tour of Rome, Orvieto, Florence, and Siena this fall, and will continue to lead groups of interested individuals on similar tours of locales within the United States as well as Europe and, hopefully, further abroad. His interest at this point is to continue to engage groups into learning how to look – and look more deeply –at the wonders of art & architecture.

centerbrook-dreams-tom-bosworth‘DREAMS’ – Designing Homes with Seattle Architect Tom Bosworth, FAIA

Friday, October 28, 2016 at 7 p.m. in ‘The Cube’ at Centerbrook Architects, 67 Main St., Centerbrook
The Essex Library is honored to welcome Seattle architect, Tom Bosworth, FAIA, as part of the Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series. Bosworth, a gifted educator, architect, and speaker, will talk about designing his award-winning, unique homes. After graduating from Yale and working with Eero Saarinen in the 1960’s, he moved to the Seattle area to teach at the University of Washington and opened a practice designing houses. Over the following decades he became one of the most influential architects in the Pacific Northwest, whose designs reflect a sense of place and emphasize the use of natural light and the relationship of the building to the landscape. The spirit of his house designs is illustrated in his 2006 book ‘Building with Light in the Pacific Northwest’.

crm_mayqueenExpanding the Canon: Four Women in Architecture with Yale School of Architecture Professor Kathleen James-Chakraborty

Friday, December 9, 2016 at 7 p.m. in The Cube at Centerbrook Architects, 67 Main St. Centerbrook
Although until the end of the twentieth century there were relatively few women architects, women have long played an important role in the shaping of the built environment. This lecture will focus upon four women who were committed to innovative design, which they championed in civic and commercial as well as domestic settings. Candace Wheeler contributed to the decoration of the Mark Twain House in Hartford and was responsible for the interior of the Women’s Building at the world’s fair held in Chicago in 1893. Catherine Cranston, the most successful Scottish businesswoman of her day, hired Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife Margaret MacDonald to assist in the design of her chain of tearooms. The second woman to graduate with an architecture degree from MIT, and the first licensed to practice in Illinois, Marion Mahony Griffin made crucial contributions to the career of her first employer, Frank Lloyd Wright, and to the design of the Australian capital of Canberra. The Irish designer Eileen Gray designed and furnished E1027, a house in the south of France that is now widely acknowledged as one of the most important European dwellings of the interwar years. These women stretched the boundaries of convention to create some of the most modern places of their time in ways that continue to inspire today.

Kathleen James-Chakraborty is the Vincent Scully Visiting Professor of Architectural History at the Yale School of Architecture and Professor of Art History at University College Dublin. She was educated at Yale and at the University of Pennsylvania. Her books include India in Art in Ireland (Routledge, 2016), Architecture since 1400 (University of Minnesota Press, 2014), Bauhaus Culture from Weimar to the Cold War (University of Minnesota Press, 2006), and German Architecture for a Mass Audience (Routledge, 2000).

The illustration is the May Queen, by Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh, made in 1900 for Catherine Cranston’s Ingram Street Tea Room.

Yale University architectureCenterbrook Architects Lecture Series Presents Architect and Author Jimmy Stamp with “Pedagogy and Place: 100 Years of Architecture Education at Yale”

Friday, January 20, 2017 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.

“The Architecture Of Gardens: Man-made Nature” with  Architect Jim Childress, FAIA

Friday, February 17, 2017 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.


Towers and Andjelic slide“Green Landscapes for Water & Wildlife” Presented by Landscape Architects Shavaun Towers, FASLA and Natasha Andjelic, ASLA

Friday, May 5, 2017 at 7 p.m. in The Cube at Centerbrook Architects Office, 67 Main St., Centerbrook
Landscape architects Shavaun Towers and Natasha Andjelic of the New Haven Landscape Architecture and Site Planning firm Towers|Golde will present ‘Green Landscapes for Water and Wildlife’. The talk will cover sustainable elements of design such as the selection of native plants, storm water management techniques, low-mow/no mow lawn alternates, and meadow plantings, and discuss how these various elements can be woven into a cohesive landscape – one that is in harmony with Nature. Also included in the lecture will be discussion on what makes a landscape sustainable, changing trends in landscape planting and aesthetics, and how these techniques can be incorporated in your own landscape.

Recent award winning projects showcasing sustainable landscape design implementation, including the new Massachusetts Headquarters for the Division of Fish and Wildlife and the Life Science Laboratory at UMass, Amherst will be presented as well as recent and past projects completed for the New York Botanical Garden including the garden’s new ‘Green Zone,’ and the Stone Mill restoration which included significant green infrastructure integrated into a historic cultural site restoration project fronting the Bronx River.

Shavaun Towers’ work has focused on institutional, corporate and urban design projects. Institutional work includes academic, healthcare and cultural facilities as well as arboreta and historic properties. Ms. Towers was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects in national recognition of the superior quality of her design work. Her work has also received numerous state and national awards recognizing creativity and design excellence, historic sensitivity and environmental responsibility. Towers | Golde Associate Natasha Andjelic has been the lead project manager on key projects for the New York Botanical Garden, overseeing projects from planning through construction administration. Her site work for the Life Science Laboratory at UMass, Amherst is a prime example of her approach to site, incorporating complex hydrological systems and native planting to create both a regenerative and teaching landscape for the University.

Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series 2008-2016

Lecture Series 2015-2016

Centerbrook Architect Series - USUS

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

Friday, January 29, 2016 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.

Centerbrook Architects Charlotte Hitchcock -barns1Architect Charlotte Hitchcock presents: “Historic Barns / Modern Farms”

Friday, February 19, 2016 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall
A survey of historic barns began in 2005 with the goal of finding and documenting barns around the state, which we thought of as endangered relics of a vanished way of life. We discovered that farming in Connecticut is alive and well in this time of local food movements. And historic barns are an integral part of the trend.

The illustrated talk will draw on Charlotte’s experience with Historic Barns of Connecticut,* a project of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation. Charlotte will focus on barns that are in use on working farms – dairy and egg farms, grass-fed beef, and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farms growing vegetables and fruits.

* made possible by support from the State Historic Preservation Office, Department of Economic and Community Development, and funds from the Community Investment Act of the State of Connecticut.

Charlotte Hitchcock is recently retired from her job with the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation after working at the state-wide non-profit preservation organization since 2009. During two years as a volunteer and six years on the staff, she visited most of the 169 towns and many of the smaller village centers in Connecticut in search of barns and other historic places.  Charlotte has worked in various roles as an architect, parent, high school teacher, and architectural historian. She has earned degrees in art history, architecture, and mathematics education. She lives in the Westville neighborhood of New Haven, in a 104-year-old Craftsman cottage.

ModernRuinPoster“Modern Ruin” with Matthew Silva

Friday, April 29, 2016 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall
The New York State Pavilion, once the shining symbol of the 1964/65 New York World’s Fair, now sits in the middle of New York City as a haunting reminder of what became of the age of optimism that was the early 1960’s. This film tells the story of Philip Johnson’s New York State Pavilion during the glory days of the fair, and chronicles its demise over the past 50 years. The film details its post-fair use as a 60’s concert venue and 70’s roller rink, including the years of neglect and recent growing advocacy efforts.

Matthew Silva is a teacher, filmmaker, and co-founder of People For the Pavilion, an organization dedicated to preserving the New York State Pavilion.  Since 2012, Matthew has worked by way of art and social media to raise interest and change public perception for what is possible for the Pavilion.  With support from a strong social media community and a coalition of various New York-based civic, advocacy, and cultural institutions, he produced the 2015 documentary film Modern Ruin: A World’s Fair Pavilion.

centerbrook may 2016Norwegian Architect: Reiulf Ramstad, HFAIA

Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 7 p.m. to be held at Centerbrook Architects 67 Main St. in Centerbrook
We are very proud to present acclaimed architect Reiulf Ramstad at Centerbrook’s office on May 17th at 7 pm. Ramstad’s firm, Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter, has earned an international reputation for boldly simple architecture that strongly connects to its Scandinavian context and landscape.

Mr. Ramstad’s Oslo-based firm achieved notoriety for its design of the Trollstigen Visitor Centre, in Møre of Romsdal, Norway. Completed in 2012, this facility is one of the earliest and largest structures among the the now-famous Norwegian Tourist Routes. Set in a stunning natural environment, it exemplifies how the deep understanding of a place can lead to innovative modern architecture. The firm has gone on to produce a wide range of pioneering projects that have attracted international accolades, including the Architizer A+Awards Firm of the Year in 2015.

Mr. Ramstad earned professorship from The Oslo School of Architecture and was a regular thesis advisor and juror. Recognized professionally as a board member of the National Association of Norwegian Architects, he has served on juries for domestic and international architectural competitions. In recent years, following awards and publicity of his firm’s projects, he has lectured around the world. He will receive an Honorary Fellowship into the American Institute of Architects’ College of Fellows at the AIA National Convention in Philadelphia this May.

The lecture will be held at Centerbrook’s office, located at 67 Main Street in Centerbrook, Connecticut. Space is limited, so please call the Essex Library at (860) 767-1560 to register.

Lecture Series 2014-2015

Chad FloydArchitect Chad Floyd, FAIA presents “In Search Of The Particular”

Friday, October 17, 2014 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall
With the proliferation of national building codes, standardized development patterns, common construction materials, and ubiquitous box stores, cities and landscapes are tending to look the same across the United States.

This trend toward homogenization was boosted after World War II by the proponents of modern architecture and their design ideology, which called for universality. The result has been a standardization of the built environment and a blurring of distinct regional identities. The sustainability movement’s emphasis on local construction materials has served as a partial antidote, but Floyd argues more can be done. He explains, as well as shows, how to conjure the particular over the universal in an attempt to regain a vanishing American sense of place.

An 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.

Person gesturing toward a mockupLandscape Architect Edward Marshall presents “Cultural Landscapes”

Friday, November 21, 2014 at the Essex Town Hall at 7 p.m.
A Principal at Stephen Stimson Associates of Massachusetts, Marshall will explore innovative projects throughout the United States and Canada and will demonstrate how the design of each site was inspired by the regional environment, such as its geology, vegetation, history, and culture.

At the University of Connecticut, Marshall helped to design the award-winning landscape project outside of two new social science buildings, which are located at the convergence of the Homer Babbidge Library and Fairfield Way, the most active pedestrian corridor on the Storrs campus. The design, which includes a green roof, explores UConn’s agricultural context through a palette of grasses and woody perennials that are found in the surrounding pastures and woodlands. Site elements were conceived through study and understanding of local materials, plant communities, and regional landscape patterns.

Marshall earned his Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and has more than twenty years of experience in the field. Prior to joining Stimson, he was the Corporate Landscape Architect for IBM Corporation, working with a design team of Architects and Engineers reviewing IBM projects worldwide. He is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

It Belongs to Everyone

Sustainable Design: Harvesting Floodwaters

Friday, January 16, 2015 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Library
Amy 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.

Johanna Hurme Architect Johanna Hurme from 5468796 Architecture in Winnipeg, Canada

Friday, February 6, 2015 at the Essex Library Association
Johanna Hurme is an architect and a founding partner of Winnipeg based 5468796 architecture. Johanna came to Canada from Finland during the mid 1990’s, graduated with a Masters of Architecture degree from the University of Manitoba and worked for several years in Winnipeg prior to establishing 5468796 Architecture with Sasa Radulovic in 2007. Working around a single table, the practice unites the diverse knowledge and experience of twelve young professionals. 546 believes that there are opportunities for exploration within every budget, and that every client, user and civic environment deserves an outcome that advances architecture.

In the past six years the firm’s work has achieved national and international recognition – including two Progressive Architecture Awards; two Awards for Emerging Architecture & Future Project Award from from Architectural Review; The Governor General Medal in Architecture; an Award for an Emerging Practice, and two Awards of Excellence from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, to name a few. In 2010 546 was featured in Architectural Record’s Design Vanguard issue and in 2012 546 represented Canada at the Venice Biennale in Architecture. Just this July the firm was selected as recipient of the 2013 Prix de Rome Award in Architecture for Canada.

Architects Taryn Christoff and Martin Finio of Christoff : Finio in New Yorkchristoff and finio

Friday, February 27, 2015 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Library
Taryn Christoff received her undergraduate degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1984, where she drew her strength and inspiration from the design legacy of Mies van der Rohe. Working with her husband Martin Finio since 1999, Christoff has led design and consultant teams to construct corporate and commercial interiors, institutional projects and new residential projects. Her experience includes retail design for Steven Alan and Calypso, headquarter design for the Heckscher Foundation and Todd Hase, and several residences located in urban and natural environments.  She has been a practicing New York Architect since 1992.

Christoff and Finio slideMartin Finio is a 1988 graduate of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at the Cooper Union. A registered New York Architect since 1993, Finio spent nearly a decade at the office of Tod Williams and Billie Tsien. His experience there included the Cranbrook Natatorium, the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, and the Hunter Science Center at the Emma Willard School. Since 1999, he has been partnered with his wife Taryn Christoff and taught both design and studio courses at Yale University, where he teaches and tests a design philosophy rooted in the integration of building performance and spatial clarity. He has been recognized by Esquire magazine as “one of America’s most promising young architects.”

Great Women Architects poster

Architectural Historian Professor Chuck Benson presents “Great Women Architects & Designers of the 20th and 21st Centuries”

Friday, March 27, 2015 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall
We would begin to understand female genius in architecture and design by going back in time to such luminaries as Marion Mahoney Griffin, Mary Colter, Julia Morgan, and Eileen Gray – all of whom are women that practiced architecture and delved into design very seriously in the early decades of the 20th century. From these women mentioned above, we will chronologically explore other mid-century & late century masters such as Gae Aulenti, Billie Tsien, Zaha Hadid, and Jeanne Gang – three of these last four practicing architecture currently. All these women defied the odds of this largely historically male-dominated profession, and are all noteworthy practitioners on a world-class level of the profession.

Byron Dean KuthByron Dean Kuth, FAIA and Elizabeth Ranieri, FAIA will present “Curious Scales.”

Friday, April 17, 2015 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall
Since co-founding Kuth Ranieri Architects, Byron & Elizabeth have been committed to balancing a building practice with research projects to stretch and experiment with design across many scales. They will present works that vary from custom fabrications to visionary infrastructure.

Over two decades their firm has produced a broad spectrum of work, from small-scaled objects and installations to buildings and urban design proposals. They have earned a regional and national reputation for innovative works that integrate current cultural discourse with contemporary issues of design, technology and the environment. Their projects include an installation for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Soundhenge, and the Harvey Milk Memorial Streetcar.

Elizabeth Ranieri

A Fine Arts and Architecture graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, Kuth has taught at California College of the Arts, the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and as a Friedman Professors at the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley. He launched the Deep Green Design Alliance (DGDA), a multidisciplinary think tank for sustainable strategies in architecture and urban design.

Ranieri holds degrees in Architecture and Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design and has taught at the California College of the Arts, the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and as a Friedman Professor at UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design. She has earned a national reputation for innovative expressions of sustainable systems at a building and planning scale. She has led the firm’s research and development on infrastructural approaches to water conservation, water treatment, and adaptive strategies to rising seas.

Chad FloydArchitect Chad Floyd, FAIA presents: “The General’s House in Madison: a haunted tale of architecture, mayhem, and geopolitics”

Thursday, April 30, 2015 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall
Murder, slaves, sea stories, presidential politics, tragedy, and triumph: mysteries about the General’s House, a now dilapidated, eighteenth-century house in downtown Madison, abound.  Centerbrook partner Chad Floyd will tell the astonishing story of this woebegone structure, once among the finest in Madison, and the colorful people who made it home for the better part of three centuries.  Floyd will describe how changes over time to the house paralleled key trends in architecture and how the house gives us an extraordinary window into the country’s social, military, and political history.

Chad 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.

fred bland gardenNew York City Architect and local gardener Frederick Bland, FAIA presents “The Making of a Garden(er), An Urbanist Architect in the Garden”

Friday, May 8, 2015 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall
Fred Bland, FAIA will highlight the garden he designed for his Stony Creek home. He chronicles his development as both an internationally known architect and a local horticulturalist, and the connection between the two strivings.

A partner in Beyer Blinder Belle and Chairman of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Bland’s design portfolio includes: the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky, Minnesota’s St. Paul Union Depot, and the Shanghai Cultural Center in China. His Stony Creek garden was featured in the book “Private Gardens of Connecticut.”

Bland earned his Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in architecture at Yale University, and as a Commissioner on the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission he plays an active role in shaping the future of America’s largest metropolis. An adjunct professor in the Art History Department at New York University, he also has served as a visiting lecturer at Columbia University, Yale University, and Pratt Institute.

Grace ChurchJames Cutler, FAIA, presents “Searching for True”

Thursday, June 11, 2015 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall
James Cutler, FAIA, an acclaimed Northwestern architect who founded his own firm and has taught at Harvard and Dartmouth and elsewhere, examines his environmentally attuned design work on Thursday, June 11 at the Essex Town Hall at 7 p.m.

Known for his innovative and sustainable use of wood and other natural materials, his “Seattle style” has been widely admired and imitated. Architectural Record described him this way: “James Cutler, FAIA, is known for superbly wrought wood structures, including buildings on the [Bill] Gates family compound in Medina, Washington … He is a staunch environmentalist who believes God is in both the details, which he himself meticulously turns out, and the materials.”

Titled “Searching for True,” Cutler’s illustrated presentation will review several projects that attempt to reveal and reflect the tangible set of circumstances in which they are placed.

Cutler’s philosophy is based upon the idea that, in recognizing the natural beauty in a site, owners can be moved to cherish and protect the land themselves. His work has been featured in The New York Times, Smithsonian and the Wall Street Journal, and has been the subject three books. Cutler cofounded the Bainbridge Island Land Trust in 1988.

Established in 1977 and located on Bainbridge Island in Washington, Cutler Anderson Architects ( is internationally renowned for its environmental awareness and attention to detail. The firm has designed more than 300 residential, commercial, and cultural projects around the world. It also has designed a myriad of home products in conjunction with its architecture, such as including hardware, furniture and lighting.

PHOTO:  Grace Episcopal Church Entry/Baptismal Font, photo credit:  Art Grice.

Lecture Series 2013-2014

elkin house

Director Jake Gorst Presents “Modern Tide”

Friday, October 25, 2013 at 6 p.m. at Centerbrook Architects, 67 Main St., Centerbrook
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.

Mr. Gorst, who is a contributing writer to VOX, HOME Miami and Modernism magazines, will introduce the 90-minute film and answer questions afterwards. View a trailer of Modern Tide.

Centerbrook Architects is located at 67 Main Street in Centerbrook, CT.

Mike Mense

Monument to Instrument: Architecture Before and After by Mike Mense, FAIA

Friday, November 15, 2013 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall
Architect, artist, and design proselytizer Michael A. Mense, whose office is in Anchorage, Alaska, will give a pithy and engaging history of architecture. 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.

Norway Centerbrook Architect

Norway: Fitting in by Standing Out With Graphic Designer Derek Hayn

Friday, December 6, 2013 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Library
What kind of architecture do you build along the most scenic roads in the world? Centerbrook Architects’ 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.

ronnette riley

Architect Ronnette Riley, FAIA presents “Resilient Design or Designing for Mother Nature’s Worst Moments”

Friday, January 31, 2014 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall
Leading 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.

Wave breaking over railingHer 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.

Barry Svigals

“The Art of Creative Engagement in Architecture” presented by Architect Barry Svigals, FAIA

Friday, February 21, 2014 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.

collaboration cover by svigalsSvigals 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.

chuck benson

Architectural Historian Chuck Benson presents “The Gothic Wonders of England and America”

Friday, March 21, 2014 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Library
Architectural Historian Chuck Benson explores the Gothic treasures of Great Britain’s Cambridge and Oxford Universities, and their influence on celebrated American college campuses.Large swaths of the Yale campus in New Haven, for example, are designed in what is called, alternately, Collegiate, Neo or Faux Gothic, a style that was popular well into the 20th Century.

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 Benson slideYale, and holds advanced degrees from Columbia University. He also has studied at Cambridge and Oxford.

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.

Photo credit: Patrick Franzis

Robert MillerArchitect Robert Miller, FAIA presents “Bohlin Cywinski Jackson: Humane Modernism”

Friday, April 11, 2014 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall
International architect Robert Miller explores his and his firm’s design practice, examining a range of innovative and sustainable buildings. This illustrated presentation focuses on such signature projects as the Ballard Library in Seattle and Vanke Visitor Center in China.

Miller, a Principal in the highly acclaimed firm, calls himself a “Romantic Modernist” whose holistic approach to architecture has been influenced by lifelong interests that encompass social issues, alternative construction, renewable energy, and industrial design. He also discusses his design of furniture and hardware utilizing the principles of Modernism.

Centerbrook Architect Lecture Slide Miller“In my work I try to balance often contrasting aspects, such as the reaction of nature against artificiality, of simplicity versus elaborate display, sentiment and reason,” Miller said.

Known for its collaborative approach to architecture, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson has been named Firm of the Year by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Miller, who is a member of the AIA’s College of Fellows, has won 65 design awards and patented a number of inventions.

Robert Fox, JR

Architect Robert Fox, AIA presents “Skyscrapers and Beyond”

Friday, May 2, 2014 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall
Bob Fox, who has designed more than 30 skyscrapers including the highly sustainable Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park, will present “Skyscrapers and Beyond,” an illustrated review of his work and current explorations, on Friday, May 2nd, 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall.

City skyline at nightCofounder and one of two partners in COOKFOX Architects in New York City, Bob Fox is known for his passion for environmentally responsible design. He is one of the founders of Terrapin Bright Green, an environmental consulting firm, and served as an advisor to former Mayor Michael Bloomberg with the Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. He also has contributed to numerous civic initiatives, for example, as member of the Interface Dream Green Team, Chair of the GSA Green Team, and as an Advisory Board member of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard University.

In addition to designing the Bank of America Tower, the firm has won awards for the Henry Miller’s Theatre, a neighborhood development in the South Street Seaport, and a visitors’ center at the Angkor Hospital for Children in Cambodia. The Condé Nast Building/4 Times Square building, designed by Bob’s previous firm, Fox & Fowle, won a 2001 National Honor Award for Design, the highest award given by the American Institute of Architects.

Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series 20122013

Louis RaymondLandscape Designer Louis Raymond with “More Colorful Than Ever; Clashing & Coordinating in the Garden of a Lifetime.”

Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall
A great garden is like a great life: Both are a collage of broad exuberance, attention to detail, occasional bravery, more-than-occasional naps, and plenty of experiments. Both balance a respect for tradition with regular and even gleeful assaults on that same tradition. Creating a colorful garden, then, is like living a colorful life. When does colorful veer into juvenile? Serenity slide into boredom? Inspired juxtaposition careen into eye-crossing jumble?

More Colorful Than Ever chronicles thirty-years-and-counting of garden designer Louis Raymond’s exploration of color in his life and his garden. Does blue really go with red? Apricot with pink? Parchment with white? And what plants best bring which colors to the garden, and when most needed? In every possible sense, it’s a colorful talk.

Raymond has been gardening for over 50 years, ever since, as a pre-schooler, he “borrowed” a number of geraniums from public gardens across the street from the family home. While he has always had a fondness for plants and gardening, Raymond took the scenic route to his current vocation. By the time he was 25, he had already earned baccalaureate degrees in chemistry, piano, and voice – and still found time for a couple of years of medical school along the way – before launching successful careers as an opera singer and a freelance writer. By 30, he had retired from both to take up the trowel fulltime. For more information on Louis Raymond, visit Louis’ website:

Stephen ShrieberProfessor Stephen Schreiber, FAIA presents “Engaged Design”

Friday, December 7, 2012 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall
Stephen is the Director of the new Architecture+Design Program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The program is an interdisciplinary, collaborative program that embraces spirited, socially progressive, and environmentally responsive design. He is a graduate of Old Saybrook High School, Dartmouth College (BA) and Harvard University (M.Arch) and the story hours at the Essex Library.

His talk, ‘Engaged Design’, will provide a window into the future of architecture and those who will be shaping our cities and towns. As in all professions, teachers of young architects endeavor to give their students the tools they need to flourish in their careers. As such, educators are in the front line of interpreting and predicting the future in order to train their students. Stephen will talk about the approaches that are being used to teach young architects how to contribute more effectively to communities now and in the coming years. Read more about the unique Architecture+Design Program at UMass|Amherst.

Building on the WaterfrontJohn Morris Dixon, FAIA presents “The Building Next Door: How Architecture Relates to its Context.”

January 11, 2013 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall
John Morris DixonEvery building is necessarily related to its surroundings, whether natural or constructed. But the pioneers of Modern architecture rarely gave much thought to neighboring buildings, because their ultimate goal was to replace them all. Around the 1960s, architects began to realize that the context of their works was going to stay around a while. Their designs increasingly took into account the scale, proportions, and materials of nearby structures, as well as established patterns of physical development. In some cases the pendulum swung too far, and “contextualism” was understood as a making new construction look just like its neighbors. Thoughtful contrast can be as effective a response to context as conformity. This talk will deal with revealing examples of architecture in context from around the world and right here in Connecticut.

An MIT graduate, John Morris Dixon began his career as an architectural journalist in 1960. He served as chief editor of Progressive Architecture 1972-96, helping achieve the magazine’s worldwide influence. The breadth of his knowledge and insight has made John Dixon a much-valued observer on numerous design juries and selection panels. In recent years, he has written for such publications as Architectural Record, Architectural Research Quarterly, Architecture, Competitions, Domus, Harvard Design Magazine, House & Garden, Officeinsight, and Places. Books he has written include The World Bank: Kohn Pedersen Fox and the Architecture of a Landmark Building. A grant from the Graham Foundation supports his current project, a book tracing the course of modern architecture from 1950 to the present.

Bill ChiltonArchitect Bill Chilton, FAIA, RIBA presents “Designing Relationships”

Friday, March 15, 2013 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall
As Principal of Pickard Chilton, an architectural practice in New Haven, Bill has directed projects for leading corporate and institutional clients worldwide including the Eaton Headquarters in Cleveland; the ExxonMobil Office Complex in Houston; CalPERS Headquarters in Sacramento as well as projects in the Middle East and Asia. Based on the belief that the practice of architecture is a collaborative art, he will address how the relationships the firm cultivates with clients, consultants and construction professionals is translated into the design of its buildings.

House under constructionWilliam Chilton has directed projects for leading corporate and institutional clients worldwide including the world headquarters for Eaton Corporation (LEED Gold) in Cleveland, Ohio; Devon Energy World Headquarters in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; 900 New York Avenue (LEED Gold) in Washington D.C.; ExxonMobil Office Complex in Houston, Texas; the US Environmental Protection Agency Headquarters (LEED Gold) near Washington D.C.; AIM Corporate Headquarters in Houston, Texas; and CaIPERS Headquarters Complex (LEED Gold) in Sacramento, California.

Prior to the founding of Pickard Chilton, he was Ellerbe Becket’s President of Architecture and collaborated on such notable buildings as the Science Museum of Minnesota and Kingdom Centre in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which, when completed, was the tallest mixed-use complex in Europe and the Middle East.

William Chilton received his Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from Iowa State University and Master of Architecture from the University of Minnesota. Iowa State University recognized him with its Design Achievement Award (1995) for distinguished contributions to the arts and the Christian Petersen Design Award (2007), the highest award given by the College of Design. In conjunction with Jon Pickard, he is co-recipient of the 2011 Iowa State University Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest honor given to alumni by the University. He is actively involved in teaching, serving in Spring 2010 as Professor in Practice at the University of Minnesota College of Design.

Chuck BensonDr. Chuck Benson presents “Hewn Architecture From Living Stone”

Friday, March 29, 2013 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall
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.

jake gorst2Jake Gorst presents “The Architecture of Andrew Geller”

Friday, April 12, 2013 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall
Jake Gorst is an Emmy® award winning producer and director. Of his documentary film, “Leisurama” (2005), New York Times writer Alastair Gordon said, “Jake Gorst’s documentary film…is a compelling look at American culture in the 1950s and 1960. While the filmmaker has chosen to focus on an amusing marketing concept in affordable housing, he goes out of his way to explain the broader cultural implications of the Cold War and US-style capitalism. Leisurama is a refreshing look at an important era without the usual clichés.”

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”. Jake Gorst is a contributing writer to VOX, HOME Miami and Modernism magazines.

View the Modern Tide trailer

elkin houseAndrew Geller (1924–2011) designed hundreds of innovative and influential modern structures during an important era of 20th century creativity and expressionism. His 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” in 2011. (Photo of Jake Gorst by Stephanie Chernikowsi).

Robert OrrRobert Orr, FAIA presents “Do Cities Really Want Economic Development?”

Friday, May 3, 2013 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall
In 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?

Town streets sketchThis 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, FAIA, 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.

LouisPoundersArchitect Louis Pounders, FAIA, presents “A View from the American Academy in Rome: the Tiber and the City”

Friday, May 31, 2013 at 7 p.m. in the Essex Town Hall
Louis Pounders traveled to Rome in the spring of 2012 where he was a Visiting Artist in Architecture at The American Academy in Rome — the oldest American overseas center for independent study and advanced research in the arts and humanities. His talk will focus on the Academy’s history and mission, and his research on the Tiber River and its effect on urban development in Rome, with ideas on how river cities in the U.S. can best develop their urban planning.

Louis R. Pounders, a native of Memphis, Tennessee, received a BA from Rhodes College in 1968, and then attended the Harvard Graduate School of Design where he received the Master of Architecture degree. He worked for I. M. Pei & louis pounders bridgePartners in New York City and Boston. In 1972, he returned to Memphis to join the architectural firm of Gassner Nathan & Browne where he became a Partner in 1980. In 1993, he joined an old friend to create Williamson Pounders Architects (WPA). In 2006, WPA joined forces with ANF Architects in Memphis.

A long-time member of the AIA Committee on Design (COD), he served on the Advisory Group of the COD. In 2009, Pounders became the National Chair of the Committee on Design, the first architect from Tennessee to hold this position. Pounders has served on numerous academic and professional juries. In 2008, he Chaired the AIA Awards Task Group and in 2010, he served on the National AIA Honor Awards for Architecture Jury. He is a member of the AIA College of Fellows and serves on the National Board of Peer Reviewers for the U. S. General Services Administration Design Excellence Program.

 Lecture Series 2011 – 2012

Staying Put coverDuo Dickinson, AIA, NCARB, CORA

Friday, December 2, 2011 at 7 p.m. in the Essex Meadows auditorium, 30 Bokum Rd, Essex, CT
Our fourth year of the beloved Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series kicks off with a talk by Connecticut author and architect Duo Dickinson, who’ll speak about his new book, Staying Put: Remodel Your House to Get the Home You Want. In this era of staying put, the idea of remodeling is ever more attractive. Duo will share his passion for saving money without sacrificing good design, and show examples of his design philosophy as it was explained by the New York Times: “Design it small, make it as beautiful as possible, and practice every trick in the book to keep it as cheap as possible”. Pilar Viladas with the New York Times writes, “These pages are crammed with good advice (avoid gutters at all costs; add wide eaves instead) and realistic assessments of the way we live now.”

See a video of this talk

Building with treesJoeb Moore, AIA – “House, Form and Culture”

Friday, February 3, 2012 at 7 p.m. in the Essex Meadows auditorium, 30 Bokum Rd, Essex, CT
In architecture, designing houses is a proving ground. It is often the place where the best young architectural talent has the opportunity to push the art of architecture forward. Frank Gehry, and Frank Lloyd Wright, for that matter, started their careers by designing houses that changed the way we think about home. For adventuresome clients, their house is an opportunity to try something new. To be sure, everyone wants their home to be functional and comfortable – but we also aspire to something special.

Connecticut is lucky to have Joeb Moore. He has provided a decade of inspiration in how to design comfortable houses that also inspire us about what is possible. He is a perennial favorite in the Connecticut AIA design awards because even if you don’t want the house for yourself (it was not designed for you anyway) you are inspired by how interesting and beautifully crafted it is. Joeb will discuss how these houses were designed and built and will inspire us to think about our homes in a different way.

Mr. Moore is principal of Joeb Moore + Partners, Architects, an architecture and design firm in Greenwich, Connecticut. Mr. Moore received his B.A. and M. Arch. degrees from Clemson University. He is the recipient of more than twenty-five AIA New England, AIA CT, and AIA NY Design Awards since founding his practice in 1993. Recent awards include a 2010 AIA National Residential Honor Award; 2009 North American WOOD Design Award; 2009 AIA New England First Honor Award; and “2009—Best of the Year” Merit Award, Interior Design.

Before joining the Yale faculty in 2007, Mr. Moore taught at Catholic University and Columbia University. From 1996 to 2006 he was the assistant director of the Barnard/Columbia Undergraduate Architecture Department. His background is in the history and theory of aesthetics and systems of representation in architecture. He has lectured and exhibited widely on his work and research, which currently is focused on the history of the suburban house and the legacy of the “Harvard Five” and the American mid-century “Good Life” residential house and program.

GaudiDr. Chuck Benson – “Antoni Gaudi”

Friday, February 24, 2012 at 7 p.m. in the Essex Town Hall
Leading the Spanish Modernist movement, Antoni Gaudí has been classified with Gothicism, Art Nouveau, and Surrealism. He was also influenced by Oriental styles, nature, sculpture, and a desire to go beyond anything that had ever been done before. The unique name to the larger movement in Spain that he belonged to was called “Modernisme”, the Spanish form of Art Nouveau. Defying labels, Antoni Gaudí’s work might be simple called, Gaudí-ism. Most of his work can be visited and enjoyed in the Catalan Capitol of Barcelona, where he lived, studied, and practiced.

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 and Gian Loernzo Bernini.

louisraymond1Landscape Designer Louis Raymond“Plays well with Plants: A Gardener’s Garden of a Lifetime, Fifteen Years & Counting”

Friday, March 23, 2012 at 7 p.m. in the Essex Town Hall
Raymond is a garden and landscape designer with clients nationwide; his own riotous garden in Hopkinton, Rhode Island will be the subject of an upcoming book. His exuberant designs have been widely published, including in House & Garden Magazine (on the cover), Metropolitan Home, and Design New England. In “Plays Well With Plants,” he’ll talk candidly about his garden’s successes and failures, and how his design philosophy has guided its creation. Overall, he is pleased with the fruits of his own labor: “So far, so good: The red borders actually do look red, sometimes triumphantly. The Belgian fence – of beeches, not fruit trees – is filling out its frame. Two of the pergolas are built and largely canopied. The double-ball topiary of hardy orange is the biggest and baddest on the continent. The Southern magnolias, so rare this far north, are almost as high as the roof.”

Raymond has been gardening for over 50 years, ever since, as a pre-schooler, he “borrowed” a number of geraniums from public gardens across the street from the family home. While he has always had a fondness for plants and gardening, Raymond took the scenic route to his current vocation. By the time he was 25, he had already earned baccalaureate degrees in chemistry, piano, and voice – and still found time for a couple of years of medical school along the way – before launching successful careers as an opera singer and a freelance writer. By 30, he had retired from both to take up the trowel fulltime.

For more information on Louis Raymond, visit or

Carol BentelCarol Bentel, FAIA, – “The 3 D’s: Design – Dream – Dine”

Friday, April 27, 2012 at 7 p.m., in the Essex Town Hall
Carol Bentel was born in St. Louis in 1957. She received her undergraduate degree in architecture at Washington University and her graduate degree in architecture at North Carolina State University. Prior to receiving her post graduate education in the history and theory of modern architecture at the Modern architecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Venice (Italy). She is a fellow of the American Academy in Rome. She has taught at Harvard, MIT, Georgia Tech, and the Architectural Association in London. She has delivered lectures at Harvard, MIT, Yale, and the Centro Palladio in Vicenza (Italy).

Bentel & Bentel has received both international and national recognition including the recent induction of all the partners in the Hospitality Design Hall Of Fame in 2007. Their projects have garnered numerous awards for design excellence including the American Institute of Architects Awardfor Interior Design and the James Beard Award for Best Restaurant Design. Their restaurant projects include designing The Modern, located in New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Craftsteak and Craft, as well as Eleven Madison Park–all in New York City.

Tom HoworthThomas Howorth, FAIA“The Conflict Between Historic Preservation, Economic Development, and Environmental (and social) Sustainability In Emerging Economies.”

Friday, June 1, 2012 at 7 p.m., in the Essex Town Hall
In 1986, Tom Howorth moved from New Orleans to Jackson, Mississippi to form the partnership of Mockbee•Coker•Howorth Architects, a firm that won immediate critical recognition, such as a prestigious P/A First Award for architectural design from Progressive Architecture, and inclusion in the Domino’s Top 30 list of the world’s best architects. The firm also collaborated with other firms to win and successfully execute a number of multi-million dollar commissions.

In 1990, Mr. Howorth left that partnership to form Howorth & Associates Architects, providing architectural and interior design services for a wide variety of clients—governmental, corporate, not-for-profit, and private individuals—who consider their buildings investments rather than expenses.

Lecture Series 20102011

Beverly WillisBeverly Willis, FAIA

Friday, October 15, 2010 at 7 p.m. in the Essex Meadows auditorium, 30 Bokum Rd. Essex, CT
Pioneering female architect Beverly Willis kicks off the annual Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series with a talk and screening of “A Girl Is A Fellow Here” ~ 100 Women Architects in the Studio of Frank Lloyd Wright

A 15-minute film produced by the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation.

At a time when few architectural firms would hire women, Frank Lloyd Wright unhesitatingly employed women, giving them both training and the opportunity to practice. Ultimately, over 100 women architects and designers worked with Wright, many of them going on to remarkable careers of their own. In his studio in Oak Park and at both Taliesin Fellowships, Wright trained and practiced with women as draftsmen, designers, and fellow visionaries. “A Girl Is A Fellow Here”: 100 Women Architects in the Studio of Frank Lloyd Wrightfocuses on six of those women – Marion Mahony, Isabel Roberts, Lois Gottlieb, Jane Duncombe, Eleanore Pettersen, and Read Weber. Through their work and their own words, they reveal what they gleaned from Wright and where they departed from his model. Who they were, how they came to architecture, what they learned from The Master, and where their careers ultimately took them emerge from filmed and audio interviews…and their own architecture. Under Wright’s guidance, from Oak Park to the Arizona Taliesin, they learned their craft and honed their ideas; they split wood and laid shingles; they dreamed and drew and designed. After they left Wright’s studio, they created thousands of projects across the country. Houses and hospitals, churches and libraries, theaters and wineries: from California to Florida, their architecture endures. They are Frank Lloyd Wright’s unknown legacy, and their practice forms a legacy for all women working in architecture today.

Beverly Willis, FAIA,is President of the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation, which she founded in 2002, following a 50-year career in architectural and design practice, beginning as a multi-media artist. Among the award-winning architecture projects in her extensive portfolio are the Union Street Stores (1965), the Margaret Hayward Park Building (1978), and the San Francisco Ballet Building (1983). She holds a fine arts degree from the University of Hawaii and an honorary doctorate from Mt. Holyoke College. Her art has been exhibited at the Cooper Hewitt Museum and Honolulu Academy of Art. She authored Invisible Images—The Silent Language of Architecture, published in 1997 by the National Building Museum. She wrote and directed a short documentary film – A Girl is a Fellow Here” 100 Women in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Studio. Presently, she lectures or participates in programs at universities, such as Harvard, Notre Dame and University of Hawaii. The Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation promotes research and public understanding of women’s contributions to the fields of architectural and environmental engineering, landscape design, the building arts, urban planning and historic preservation, as well as architectural history and criticism.

Cold Spring buildingsNobel Laureate Dr. James Watson and William Grover, FAIA, Partner Emeritus of Centerbrook Architects.

Thursday, November 11, 2010 at 7 p.m., in the Essex Meadows auditorium, 30 Bokum Rd. Essex, CT

We are privileged to present “Making a Village for Science,” an overview of their collaboration at the renowned Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island.

The determination by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953 that DNA is shaped like a double helix, or a gently twisting ladder, ranks among the greatest discoveries of the 20th century. Dr. Watson, who was 25 at the time, would go on to other important discoveries, to serve as Director of the Human Genome Project, to teach at Harvard, to write eight books, and to guide Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory into the forefront of research institutions as its Director from 1968 to 1994, and afterwards as President and Chancellor until 2007. He is now Chancellor Emeritus and an avid tennis player.

A founding partner of Centerbrook Architects, William Grover worked on 25 building projects at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory from 1973 to 2007, including the Watson School of Biological Sciences and the new Hillside Research Campus. His body of work has garnered 45 design awards and been widely published, in The New York Times, Architecture Digest, Life Magazine, and elsewhere. Now Partner Emeritus, Mr. Grover also was a visiting critic in architectural design at Yale University.

See a video of this talk

architecture of PalladioDr. Victor Deupi presents “The Architecture of Andrea Palladio”

Friday, January 14, 2011 at 7 p.m. in the Essex Meadows auditorium, 30 Bokum Rd. Essex, CT
Victor Deupi, architectural designer, teacher, and writer, presents “The Architecture of Andrea Palladio,” the 16th century Venetian who is widely considered the single most influential figure in all of Western architecture. Buildings from the United States Capitol to Monticello pay homage to his classic designs.

Dr. Deupi earned his Masters degree and Ph.D. in architecture from Yale and the University of Pennsylvania respectively and his teaching credits include Notre Dame and the Prince of Wales Institute of Architecture in London. He also is an active practitioner and design consultant, most recently with Pier Carlo Bontempi of Italy, and has written extensively about New Urbanism and the humanities underpinning classic tradition. Dr. Deupi is a watercolorist whose work has been exhibited here and abroad.

Dariel CobbDariel Cobb Presents “Inspiration and Authorship in the New Millennium”

Friday, February 18, 2011 at 7 p.m. in the Essex Meadows auditorium, 30 Bokum Rd. Essex, CT
Dariel Cobb, an assistant professor of architecture at the University of Hartford, examines the role of creativity in architecture. Ms. Cobb studied architecture as an undergraduate at Berkeley and received her Masters degree in architecture from the Yale School of Architecture, where she has also taught. Ms. Cobb, who also runs a graphic design studio, teaches architectural design and advanced design theory to graduate and undergraduate students. Her professional experience includes working for Robert A.M. Stern Architects in New York and with Arquitectonica as a designer and project manager. Previously, she was the Assistant Director of the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation, which works to expand knowledge about the history of women in architecture. For more on Ms. Cobb, check out her thought-provoking blog.

Louis RaymondLouis Raymond Landscape Designer Presents “Putting Everything in Perspective: Formality in Your Garden”

Friday, March 18, 2011 at 7 p.m. in the Essex Meadows auditorium, 30 Bokum Rd. Essex, CT
Louis’ academic studies and artistic talents have yielded three baccalaureate degrees (in Chemistry, Voice and Piano), several years of medical studies at the University of Pittsburgh, a flourishing career as an opera and concert singer, and frequent assignments as a free-lance writer for New York glossies. Of course Louis Raymond loves plants. He’s a garden designer. For six years, he was the designer for the annual New England Spring Flower Show, and his firm, Renaissance Gardening, creates showstopping landscapes for residential and corporate clients.

In American landscape design at the dawn of the new millennium, “formality” is as slippery a concept as “wildflower,” let alone the ultimate nebulosity, the “English” garden. Some people will pronounce any garden with so much as a clipped hedge “formal,” while others need a hefty dose of symmetry, expense, smartly-defined rectangles and pretension to set off their own particular Formality Alarm. We don’t question why Formality Alarms should exist at all, and why we should avoid setting them off.

It’s always revealing to try to fathom why anything at all goes in or out of fashion, be it shoulder pads or salpiglossis, cigarettes or cannas. The current American allergy to landscape formalism is all the more interesting, however, because the rest of the known gardening world thinks formalism (however it’s defined) is truly swell, as did most Americans themselves for much of our history. With the exception of Japanese and most current American design, the wider world notion is that if one perennial border is good, a perfect pair (or even an entire perennial parterre) is that much better.

In “Putting Everything in Perspective,” Louis dissects some of America’s jitters that keep formality out of our landscapes and lives. After all, we don’t garden in a vacuum: there’s a lot of culture in horticulture. Pressures as diverse as native plant societies, the Arbor Day Foundation, advancing lawn-mower technology, anti-elitism and snobbism, automobile culture, sex roles and the prevalence of the putatively anti-city and pro-informality suburban life have all contributed to our Formality Phobia.

See the video of this talk

Color in ArchitectureBill Grover, FAIA, Centerbrook Architects Partner Emeritus, Presents “Color In Architecture”

Friday, April 1, 2011 at 7 p.m. in the Essex Meadows auditorium, 30 Bokum Rd. Essex, CT.
Since 1973 Mr. Grover has designed more than 45 projects at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York under the directorship of Nobel Laureate Dr. James D. Watson. Over the years the Laboratory’s historic buildings have been adapted to meet the requirements of biomedical research while new buildings have been carefully inserted on campus. Mr. Grover has also been the architect for houses, academic buildings, and research and teaching laboratories for clients such as the Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Neurogen, Alexion, Vion, Dekalb, and Phillips Exeter Academy. In addition to architecture he also practices at painting watercolors, sailboat racing, and playing jazz on the cornet.

See the video of this talk

Bernini architectureDr. Chuck Benson, Art & Architecture Historian

Friday, April 22, 2011 at 7 p.m. in the Essex Meadows auditorium, 30 Bokum Rd. Essex, CT
Professor Chuck Benson will explore the work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini – the leading figure in Roman Baroque architecture and art. Dr. Benson’s talk includes a humorous look at some of Bernini’s sculpture that is often bawdy and hidden from casual observation. “Gian Lorenzo Bernini was one of the greatest of Roman Baroque artists, architects, and certainly sculptors,” Dr. Benson says. “It could be argued that his mastery of marble even exceeded that of his esteemed predecessor of the High Renaissance, Michelangelo. Without question, Bernini exploded on the art scene of the 1600’s in Rome as a luminous, transcendent talent.”

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.

See the video of this talk

Bloomberg TowerRafael Pelli, AIA, Partner, Pelli, Clark, Pelli Presents “It’s Not Easy Being Green; Interesting Environmental Issues In Architecture From Around The World”

Friday, May 20, 2011 at 7 p.m. in the Essex Meadows auditorium, 30 Bokum Rd. Essex, CT.
Rafael Pelli is the Partner directing the Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects New York office, established in 2000. Since that time, he has directed the design for several of the firm’s New York projects. These include Bloomberg Tower, a 1.4 million-square-foot, mixed-use high-rise in Midtown that contains the new headquarters for Bloomberg L.P. and the residential condominiums One Beacon Court. Mr. Pelli was the designer of the reconstruction of the World Financial Center, and the lead designer for a new U.S. Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn. He was also the designer for three high-rise apartment buildings in Battery Park City: the Solaire, the Verdesian and the Visionaire. The three buildings have achieved significant milestones in sustainable design.

See the video of this talk

Normandy American Cemetery Visitor Center Overlooking Omaha BeachDavid Greenbaum, FAIA, Vice President, SmithGroup Presents “The Normandy American Cemetery Visitor Center Overlooking Omaha Beach”

Friday, June 3, 2011 at 7 p.m. in the Essex Meadows auditorium, 30 Bokum Rd, Essex, CT

David B. Greenbaum is the leader of SmithGroup’s Cultural practice. Driven by site and client mission, his work applies his philosophy of amplifying an institution’s mission by creating powerful and memorable places. This has been most recently exemplified with the design of the Normandy American Cemetery Visitors Center, The International Spy Museum, and the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Pavilion renovation.

Winning awards before it opened, this solemn yet powerful visitor center reverently encourages focus on the memorial cemetery it serves, deepening the tribute to those who served in World War II. With great dignity, the center draws visitors beyond the beach views and the cemetery’s monumental axis to consider the landscape, sky and ocean. Its compact, deferent design offers cemetery views to reinforce its connection. Upon leaving, visitors are returned to that place of recognition and honor.

See the video of this talk.

Lecture Series 2009-2010

Jim Childress, FAIA – “The Architecture Of Gardens: Manmade Nature”

Friday, December 4, 2009 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Library
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.

Kent BloomerKent Bloomer – “Why Not Ornament?”

Friday, February 12, 2010 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall
Kent Bloomer is the principal and founder of the Bloomer Studio, and has served as its chief designer since 1965. He is also a Professor of Architecture at Yale University. Bloomer has taught at Yale since 1966. He was an instructor at the Carnegie Mellon Institute of Technology from 1961 to 1966. In addition to his permanent teaching positions, Mr. Bloomer has lectured and served as a visiting critic at many universities, including UT-Austin, Harvard, McGill, and Columbia. He has also spoken to audiences at the British Psychoanalytic Society, the Portland Museum of Art, the Graham Foundation in Chicago, the London Architectural Association, and the American Craft Museum in New York City.

Mr. Bloomer’s sculpture has been exhibited by numerous museums and galleries, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in California, the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford, CT, and the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Hirshhorn Gallery, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, and the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh. His large-scale projects have won statewide and national awards from the American Institute of Architects. Mr. Bloomer’s most recent projects include a foliated trellis for the Ronald Reagan National Airport, Washington D.C. (architect: Cesar Pelli & Associates), large roof sculptures on the Harold Washington Library, Chicago (architect: Hammond, Beeby and Babka), an aluminum horse, wings, and trellis for The Great Platte River Road Archway Monument, Kearney, Nebraska (architect: Peter Dominick, Urban Design Group), and exterior metal panels for the new Nashville Public Library (architect: Robert A.M. Stern).

Jeff Riley, FAIA – “Beauty and the Building”

April 16, 2010 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Library
Our very popular Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series continues on April 16th at 7 p.m. at the Essex Library with Centerbrook partner Jefferson Riley, FAIA.  His talk, “Beauty And The Building”, presents a singular viewpoint of what design elements contribute to making buildings universally beautiful regardless of their architectural styles. A beauty contest, one of Centerbrook’s signature workshop elements, will also be conducted.

Centerbrook Architects has their own blog, called The Millrace, where you can read posts about architecture and their office. The most recent, by Alan Paradis,called “The Big Drip By The River” concerns tapping sugar maples.

Chuck Mueller, AIA – “The House and The Home. Tradition, Modernity, and Comfort.”

Friday, May 1, 2010 at 7 p.m.

Chad FloydChad Floyd, FAIA– “The Krieble Gallery At The Florence Griswold Museum & Other Places For Art.”

Friday, May 10, 2010 at 7 p.m. at Essex Town Hall
Chad Floyd will present “Designing for Art: Three Centerbrook Museums” at the Essex Town Hall this Friday, May 7 at 7 p.m. The illustrated talk is part of a series hosted by the Essex Library. Chad Floyd, a partner in Centerbrook Architects, has received design recognition for his work on the Hood Museum at Dartmouth College, Krieble Gallery At The Florence Griswold Museum, and the Norton Museum of Art in Florida.

Schaffhausen, SwitzerlandCharles Mueller, AIA – “A Medieval City In Modern Times: a photographic study of Schaffhausen, Switzerland.”

Friday, June, 2010 4 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall
Charles Mueller, AIA, of Centerbrook Architects, will present a photographic study of how the city plan of Schaffhausen, Switzerland, has evolved and adapted over more than 500 years.

This talk, which will be held at Essex Town Hall Friday June 4th at 7 p.m., is part of the popular ongoing series of architectural lectures presented by the Essex Library in partnership with Centerbrook Architects and Planners.

Mr. Mueller’s interest in Schaffhausen dates to his childhood, when summer holidays always meant a visit to his Swiss relatives there, a tradition he keeps up with his own children.

Lecture Series 2008 – 2009

Jim Childress, FAIA – “World Architecture Today. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.”

Friday, November 7, 2008 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Library
Ever ponder modern architecture and wonder why it looks the way it does? We’re fortunate to have here in Essex an architecture firm that is recognized throughout the world for their design work and their collaborative process. The Library has asked, and the partners at Centerbrook Architects and Planners have generously agreed, to each present, over the course of a year, a talk at the Library. James C. Childress, FAIA, will kick off the Centerbrook Architecture Series with his talk and slideshow.

Jeff RileyJeff Riley, FAIA – “The Seven Layers of Allure: Understanding Humanism in Architecture”

Friday, January 9, 2009 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Library
Join us at the Library on Friday, January 9th at 7p.m. when Jefferson B. Riley, FAIA, partner at Centerbrook Architects, will present The Seven Layers Of Allure; Understanding Humanism In Architecture.

Jeff Riley received a Bachelor of Arts from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin in 1968 and a Master of Architecture degree from Yale University in 1972. In 1975 he was a founding partner of Centerbrook Architects and Planners. In 1992 he was invested into the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects.

Since 1978 he has been the master planner and architect for over 55 projects at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut. Since 1990 Mr. Riley has worked with the United Church of Christ Fellowship of Architects to develop liturgical design guidelines for church buildings. In 1999 he received the Lucia R. Briggs Distinguished Achievement Award from his alma mater, Lawrence University. In 2001 his own house in Connecticut received a 25 Year Award for Design Excellence from the New England Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Chad FloydChad Floyd, FAIA – “Where Land And Water Converge”

Friday, February 6, 2009 at 7 p.m.
Join us again at the Library on Friday, February 6th at 7p.m. when Chad Floyd, FAIA, partner at Centerbrook Architects will present “Where Land And Water Converge.”

Chad Floyd received his undergraduate and Master of Architecture degrees from Yale University in 1966 and 1973, respectively. He was awarded Yale’s Winchester Traveling Fellowship in 1973 and used it to journey to India. Before joining Centerbrook in 1975, Mr. Floyd received a National Endowment for the Arts Individual Grant to research American celebration places.

Mr. Floyd’s design awards include the American Institute of Architect’s 1998 Architecture Firm Award and four AIA Honor Awards–for the Watkins Glen Pier Pavilion in New York, the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, a private house in Connecticut, and the Watkins Glen Waterfront Plan. He was advanced to Fellowship in the AIA in 1991.

He is currently working on an addition to the historic Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts; an expansion of Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Worcester, Mass.; new academic buildings in Virginia and Pennsylvania; a corporate headquarters in Toledo, Ohio; and an expansion of the Eugene O’Neill Theater in New London.

Mark Simon, FAIA – “Endearing Is Enduring”

Friday, March 6, 2009 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Library
Our Centerbrook Architecture lecture series continues on Friday, March 6th with Centerbrook partner, Mark Simon, FAIA who will present his visual exploration of sustainable design entitled, “Endearing Is Enduring”.

Mark Simon received a Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, in 1968 from Brandeis University with honors in sculpture, and a Master of Architecture from Yale University in 1972. The son of sculptor Sidney Simon, he learned about design at an early age. He developed his own sculptural skills at Brandeis and, after graduation from Yale, worked as a cabinetmaker, developing a concern for architectural detail. In 1978 he became a partner in Centerbrook Architects and Planners. In 1990, he was advanced to the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows.

Mr. Simon’s practice ranges from private houses to commercial, institutional, academic, and religious projects. In 1986, Mr. Simon served as Chair of the American Institute of Architects Committee on Design. Though still enjoying residential projects, his practice includes larger work, notably Nauticus – the National Maritime Center in Norfolk, Virginia; Nortel Networks Executive Briefing Center in Raleigh, North Carolina; Shapiro Admissions Center at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts; the Chemistry Building and School of Business Administration at the University of Connecticut, Storrs; and the Prospect Place Modular Building for the Political Science Department at Yale University.