We founded Centerbrook in 1975 as a community of creative problem solvers working together to advance place making and the craft of building. Seeking inspiration from the particular rather than the universal, we use specific details of program, site, surroundings, and cultural history in order to deliver a compelling sense of place.
A collaborative firm with an exceptional history of building over four decades, we have developed an in-house road map for quality and budget assurance. We call our project management approach The Centerbrook Method.
Planning and architectural design begin by assimilating needs of program, site, fund-raising, budgets, and implementation. Practical issues are placed on a pedestal at Centerbrook. Solving a project’s functional requirements is viewed as an absolute requirement before any architectural honor can be truly deserved.
To advance its humanist bent, we invite stakeholders and users to become involved in the early stages of projects through the use of trademark participatory workshops. Workshops range from modest to extensive and even have included interactive television shows pressing whole urban populations to the planning of their cities. Fundamental to all our workshops is identification of design options and a friendly ear for participants’ preferences.
Our office is a nineteenth-century compound of factory buildings alongside a millstream on the Connecticut shoreline. Since 1690 waterpower has been a principal feature, making ours one of the earliest Industrial Revolution sites in America. Our building continues that tradition today with a modern turbine system that generates electricity. Our community of architects and artisans continues our site’s long history of making. Our brick building’s open spaces, rough wood floors, and simple brick walls are conducive to creativity.
Several staff members have been with us for more than 30 years. Our architects hail from all over the United States and from many countries around the world. Their diverse talents make our factory a vital place of experimentation where design is enriched by many streams of influence.
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Jeff spent his formative summers in the north woods of Maine at the family’s camp, which consisted of fourteen log cabins built by his great grandfather at the turn of the twentieth century. His love of woodcraft developed early on and led to his mastering the art of wooden boat building that years later would inform much of his architectural design.
Jeff’s talent for drawing, and his fascination with human individuality, led him to France, where he spent his days sketching people in the parks and bistros of Paris. His interest in capturing people’s character and varied expressions has also greatly influenced his approach to architecture.
Jeff graduated from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, with a B.A. in Fine Arts in 1968. He received his Master of Architecture degree from Yale University in 1972 and soon thereafter co-founded the firm of Moore Grover Harper, the predecessor of Centerbrook Architects. His body of work includes private residences, community centers, hotels, churches, museums, sports arenas, music halls, and numerous educational facilities across the United States. Most notably, Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut, retained Jeff as its sole architect for four decades.
Many of Jeff's building designs have been recognized as among the world’s best, including the Quinnipiac University Law School Center, the Wriston Art Center at Lawrence University and his own house in Guilford, Connecticut, which received the New England AIA 25 Year Award. In 1992 he was invested into the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects. Jeff has received 71 design awards, including the prestigious American Institute of Architects Firm Award in 1998, the highest national recognition an American architectural firm can receive.
Mark was born into the world of the arts. His father, Sidney Simon, was a sculptor, and his mother, Joan Crowell, a writer and composer, inspirations that led Simon to major in sculpture at college. After graduating cum laude in 1968 from Brandeis University, he switched to architecture. Being naturally gregarious, he felt he would be happier working with other people and that architecture might touch more diverse lives than sculpture.
After graduating from the Yale School of Architecture in 1972, Mark initially built cabinets and houses, but then worked in several architecture offices, and was soon hired by Charles Moore, his former teacher and dean at Yale. They collaborated on a number of homes, and in 1978 Simon was named as a partner at Moore Grover Harper, which eventually became Centerbrook Architects.
From the start of his career, Mark has been a pioneer in the practice of “green” architecture, beginning with his design in 1973 of an “Earth House” that was built into a hillside and decades later continues to take advantage of the clean heating and cooling energy of terra firma. Today Mark’s practice ranges from private houses and highly crafted furniture, to commercial, institutional, academic, and religious projects. His projects span from China to Mexico to local projects in New England. Recent houses like the Lakewood house in the Northeast and Casa Ambar in Cabo are explorations in new aesthetics.
Mark continues designing groundbreaking buildings for independent schools like Pomfret, Berkshire, University School, and Keystone Academy in Beijing. He has designed many landmark buildings, among them: LancasterHistory in Pennsylvania; Nauticus – The National Maritime Center in Virginia; Park Synagogue East in Ohio, the Chemistry Building and Business School at the University of Connecticut; Yale’s Kroon Hall (with Hopkins Architects); the Yale Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center; Reese Stadium, the Kenney Center and Jensen Plaza at the renowned Yale Bowl. He is now completing a multi-building Alumni Center for Duke University and leading a substantial team to comprehensively renew and extend Yale’s famed Peabody Museum of Natural History.
Mark's innovative design has been noted by Time Magazine and The New York Times, among others. His 112 architectural awards include the prestigious American Institute of Architects Architecture Firm Award that Centerbrook received in 1998. In 1990, he was inducted into the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows.
Jim joined Centerbrook Architects in 1979 and became a principal (owner) in 1996. In 1994 he was selected as one of the decade’s “40 National Architects under 40” by the Architectural League of New York and Interior Magazine.
Jim has won more than 60 design awards including the American Institute of Architects 1998 Architecture Firm Award. He was invested, for design, into the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects in 2001 and recognized for Professional Achievement by the Rhode Island School of Design at their 2005 Commencement. He is a long standing member the National AIA Committee on Design (AIA-COD), serving on its Advisory Group and as the 2015 Chair.
Jim’s portfolio includes the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Connecticut; the Wolf Law Building, Center for Community, and Medical Library buildings for the University of Colorado; the headquarters building for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in Lander, Wyoming; a museum and athletic center for Fairfield University; projects for independent schools - MICDS in St. Louis, BB&N in Cambridge, Horace Mann in New York City, and Ridley College in St. Catherines, Ontario.
He is especially proud of working for Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for over 30 years on 16 projects - including laboratories, a library, auditoriums, a dining hall, housing, a child care center, chiller plants, development offices, and a DNA learning center for the world-renowned center for molecular biology research.
Jim is vested in sustainability with two of his projects certified LEED Platinum, three certified LEED Gold, and a carbon free - Living Building Challenge level - innovation campus for the South Kent School.
His civic commitments include serving on the Town of Essex School Board, the Vice Chair of the Elementary School Building Committee, Planning and Zoning Boards, and Essex Fire Station Building Committee over ten years. He is currently an active volunteer for the Essex Library, including overseeing and funding a lecture series - the Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series. With a focus on architecture and landscaping the series is in its ninth year and brings 8-9 speakers to the library annually.
Chad grew up in Washington, D.C., where a memorable childhood was highlighted by service as a Senate Page for the likes of John F. Kennedy. Later, as a college student at Yale, he caught the theater bug, availing himself of directing and lighting design classes at the Yale School of Drama. His interest in architecture was kindled.
After graduating in 1966, Chad shipped off to Vietnam to serve for 13 months as a Marine infantry platoon and company commander. Returned to civilian life, he graduated from the Yale School of Architecture in 1973. Several study grants allowed him to travel to India and across the United States, and his observations on urban architecture and celebratory spaces were published in Architectural Record and elsewhere.
Chad would go on to become an urban designer sought after for his unique understanding of public celebration dynamics. His background in acting and theater production equipped him to make a process breakthrough in harnessing live television to engage whole communities in the planning of urban design projects. Floyd’s interactive “Design-a-thons” freed the typical process from the contentiousness of public meetings and led to a remarkable record of public and private investment in places like Dayton, Ohio; Watkins Glen, New York; Roanoke, Virginia; Springfield, Massachusetts; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Salem, Virginia.
His projects around the country in academia, the arts, and civic architecture include the Palmer Events Center in Austin, Texas; Liberty Memorial in Virginia that honors those who lost their lives on 9/11; Maud Gatewood Hall at the University of North Carolina; an expansion and renovation of the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy Andover in Massachusetts; Krieble Gallery at the Florence Griswold Museum; Almetris Duren Hall at the University of Texas at Austin; new studio arts and athletics buildings at Colgate University; a master plan and two new academic buildings for St. Mark’s School of Texas in Dallas; a master plan and expansion of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center; a new academic and dining building for the Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College; renovation of the Garde Arts Center in Connecticut; and new and renovated science buildings along with the new Floren Varsity Field House at Dartmouth College.
Recent projects include the new Thompson Exhibition Building for Mystic Seaport Museum; a new Outpatient Pavilion for UConn Health and a new academic building for the UConn Medical and Dental Schools, both in Farmington; a master plan for Charlotte Country Day School leading to five renovated and new buildings; a master plan and expansion for Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, Connecticut; renovation of McGovern Hall at the University of St. Joseph’s in West Hartford, Connecticut; new academic buildings for Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia, Greensboro Day School in North Carolina, a master plan with subsequent new and renovated buildings for Saint Andrew's School in Boca Raton, Florida; and a campus plan leading to seven new buildings for Bowdoin College’s Schiller Coastal Studies Center on Orr’s Island in Maine.
Chad has garnered 104 awards for design excellence, including the prestigious American Institute of Architects Architecture Firm Award that Centerbrook received in 1998. In 1991 he was invested into the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects, and he is also a Fellow of the Institute for Urban Design.
Todd has successfully tackled a variety of building designs during two decades at Centerbrook ⎯ from a working farm in Maine to a major expansion of a research facility set in the whaling village of Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island. The challenge of finding creative design solutions to complex building projects fuels Todd's passion for architecture.
His love for problem solving and architecture developed in a high school design thinking class and further blossomed during two summer internships at local architectural firms. The studio environment was an exciting break from the traditional classroom and he was hooked. His designs for a variety of project types including – education, learning spaces, scientific research, churches all promote and facilitate social interaction, ‘it is the people that make the buildings come alive’. He designs with the core belief that learning extends well beyond the classroom walls and communities are strengthened when they have the opportunity to organically interact.
After graduating from Kingswood Oxford in 1991, Todd earned his Bachelors of Architecture at Syracuse University in 1996. Joining Centerbrook soon thereafter, he went straight to work on projects at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. In 2002 he served as project manager for the establishment of the Hillside Research Campus, the single largest addition to the venerable scientific research institution that was founding in 1890. The challenge was to make the modern 100,000-square-foot facility fit into the historic campus as well as the wooded residential neighborhood.
"Cold Spring Harbor is where I grew up professionally, and I have forged lasting friendships with the people there," Todd says. "I learned not only about designing buildings, but also about how to create an overall sense of place. Because science and learning occur beyond the classroom walls, I strive to make spaces that promote social interaction in every project – whether the building is devoted to research, academia, business, or religion. Fostering social interaction is important in every case.”
Todd has worked on other campuses as well. He served as the project manager for the STEM building and Center for Community at the Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School, and more recently led the renovation of the Albertus Magnus College student center.
Todd resides locally with his wife, three children, and their chocolate lab. He has volunteered with the Valley Soccer Club and enjoys teaching children the values of teamwork. He stays active by playing soccer, pond hockey, and surfing.
- Became a principal of the firm in 2017
- Elected to the CSHL Corporate Advisory Board
- Enjoys spending time in Wellfleet with his family
- Lived and studied in Florence
- Continues to renovate his 1890’s farmhouse
As the daughter of a cabinetmaker-turned-contractor, Elizabeth was exposed to the art of hand drafting and the craft of building from an early age. She spent many hours observing the design process in her father’s workshop and on construction sites.
Raised in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., she also was influenced by the political and social climate characteristic to the area. This interest would propel her to achieve a national ranking in debate. Collectively, these formative experiences would form the foundation of her architectural education and practice. Elizabeth graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and a minor in Philosophy from the University of Virginia, where she received the Faculty Award for Design Excellence. After graduation, she collaborated with a pair of professors on theoretical projects exploring responsive public spaces. Shortly thereafter, she relocated to New York City and began working for Openshop|Studio, a boutique firm that reinvented residential, retail and restaurant spaces with materials and light.
In 2011, Elizabeth earned her Masters of Architecture from Yale University, graduated second in the class and won the AIA Henry Adams Certificate and the William G. and Virginia Field Chester Scholarship Award. Highlights of her graduate work included traveling to and studying the history of the Venetian lagoon and the traditions of English landscape architecture. Her studies culminated in a final project which rethought Le Corbusier’s Capitol Complex project for the Utopian city of Chandigarh, India.
Elizabeth joined Centerbrook in 2012 and has contributed to projects at the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington, Connecticut, a renovation at the University of Texas Law School, and The Pavilion at Grace Church in Providence, Rhode Island. Recently she has been involved in designs for Fairfield University, Greenwich Country Day School, and a private lakefront residence in Connecticut.
- Adjunct Assistant Professor of Architectural Studies at Connecticut College
- Outside of work, enjoys spending time with her husband and son
Justin grew up on a farm outside Philadelphia. As the youngest of five, he observed how his family interacted with the farmland, the livestock that lived on it, and the structures that complemented it. This relationship sparked his interest to study architecture in a rural setting at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
During his studies, Justin spent six months traveling throughout Italy’s Veneto Region learning the works of Andrea Palladio. More specifically, he studied the villas that dealt with the juxtaposition in relocating Venice’s most wealthy city-dwelling merchants to their newly invested reclaimed farmland.
Graduating Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor in Architecture, Justin then moved to Boston to work on redeveloping land parcels outside South Station resulting from Boston’s own massive land reclamation project, The Big Dig. Shortly thereafter, he was accepted at the Yale School of Architecture where scholastic interests brought him to England to investigate the influence of sculpture within a more refined British Landscape. Justin’s passion between architectural forms and their sculptural and functional relationship to the land continues to be an ongoing personal interest and a professional influence.
Justin joined Centerbrook in 2011 and has since been involved with several projects at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, including Nicholls Biondi Hall. He worked extensively on the private coastal residence Casa Ambar, and more recently has honed his museum expertise through design work for the University of New Hampshire, Yale University and the New England Air Museum.
- Scholastic travels have taken him to India, England, and Venice
- Samuel J. Fogelson Memorial Scholarship Award at Yale
Growing up with brothers, cousins and uncles in the construction industry, building and tinkering came naturally to Mark. Today he works on his own house and is exploring a new found joy in building dry-laid stone walls.
Mark’s passion for sports and art growing up often involved his family members as participants or portrait subjects. He still pursues these pastimes, playing and coaching sports while painting, sculpting and creating bas reliefs that use LED light to create shifting shadows.
In his first career, as a restaurant manager with Hilton Hotels, among others, he readily appreciated the importance of design in food presentation. His design and construction sensibilities turned Mark to architecture; he earned his Bachelors of Architecture from Roger Williams University and was first in his class. He worked for a small Connecticut firm designing high-end residences before joining Centerbrook in 1997 and being named an associate in 2005 and senior associate in 2014. Mark was promoted to associate principal in 2017.
His portfolio encompasses academic, cultural, laboratory, and commercial projects, among them the People's United Sports Center at Quinnipiac University and two projects at The Hotchkiss School, including a woodchip-burning Biomass Heating Facility. He was project manager for the mixed use Bedford Square in Westport, Connecticut.
Mark chairs the Centerbrook Sustainability Committee, which oversees the integration of green building design in all of the firm’s projects. Centerbrook has accepted the American Institute of Architect’s 2030 Commitment, whose goal is to have all buildings be carbon neutral by 2030. LEED AP BD+C, Mark is a frequent presenter on sustainability; he co-led, with the USGBC, a recent webinar on Biomass Thermal Energy in high-performance buildings.
Mark cites the glass-walled Hotchkiss Music Center as one of his favorites: “It was a complicated project, which I love. Helping design the practice rooms and concert hall in a bucolic setting, at the edge of a golf course overlooking the lake was a great experience. The biggest challenge was integrating a contemporary, glassy building in a Georgian campus. The Hotchkiss music program has blossomed beyond expectation and the continued love of the building shows that we succeeded.”
- Member of Connecticut and US Green Building Council
- Competes in road races and obstacle courses like Tough Mudder, which aids wounded veterans
- Hasn’t exhibited his work yet, but is thinking about it
Jon is known for his Texas charm and for considerable design talent, administrative skill, and technical expertise. A colleague likened him to the conductor of an orchestra who keeps all the elements of a project in sync, communicating with and inspiring each section toward a common goal of excellence.
A native of Wichita Falls, Texas and a graduate of Texas Tech University, Jon joined Centerbrook in 1987. Since then, he has amassed a significant portfolio of academic, recreational, student life, laboratory, cultural, corporate, and municipal projects. An athlete, Jon seeks opportunities for design that promote occupant wellness and wellbeing. These include a new basketball arena at Fairfield University; the People’s United Center at Quinnipiac University; a new Upper School for the arts and sciences at Greenwich Country Day School and renovations to the Jahn Ice Rink and Hard Auditorium at Pomfret School.
Elevated to Associate Principal in 2010, Jon has overseen Centerbrook’s work at Quinnipiac University since 2003. He has managed major projects there that include: playing fields and stadia for field hockey, lacrosse and soccer; a health science center; a medical school; a law school; multiple residential halls; two student centers, two dining halls; and a campus master plan for sustainability.
Jon’s projects have received more than a dozen design awards. They include a Neuroscience Center at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a leading biomedical research facility and a Centerbrook client since 1974. His other design credits include the Wolf Law School at the University of Colorado, and buildings at Yale University and Dartmouth College.
Jon is an active community volunteer, serving since 2003 on the Town of Chester planning and zoning commission.
Reno began his building career in his teens, working construction with his uncles. Today he can tackle anything his house – or his parents’ summer cottage – can throw at him, from additions and decks to wiring and plumbing. He knew in high school that he would pursue a career in architecture because it combined his two enthusiasms: science and art.
A semester abroad in Italy sealed the deal: “As soon as I got off the plane, I climbed to the top of the campanile in the Plaza del Duomo, and the view of Florence left me awestruck. I was speechless. I had never experienced anything like that.”
He earned his Bachelors of Architecture from Syracuse University, joined Centerbrook in 1993 after working for several other firms; He was named an associate in 2004, senior associate in 2014 and was promoted to associate principal in 2017.
Reno has found Centerbrook’s eclectic clientele to be a good fit: “Every project here is a new experience, an opportunity to learn and do something different.”
He has been project manager for, among others, the Academic Science & Laboratory Building at Southern Connecticut State University. His academic credits include serving on the design teams for buildings at Yale, M.I.T., Colgate, Amherst, and Pomfret School. His portfolio also encompasses residential, religious, and cultural projects, among them the Nessel Wing at the Norton Museum of Art in Florida, Park Synagogue East in Ohio, and the widely published Lakewood House in the Northeast.
His design/build chair was judged to be the best in the second Centerbrook Chair Workshop. His modern interpretation of a club chair consists of multiple, horizontal, thin layers of plywood - stacked top to bottom with each sheet separated by a narrow uniform gap and laser cut to resemble a topographical model, including a tapered landing zone. He describes his comfy creation as “a chair with many layers and levels, deceptively simple and surprisingly comfortable.”
- Two-time Centerbrook Travel Grant recipient
- Vice Chair of Guilford Historic Commission
- Could have been an Elvis impersonator
David was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, where his father, a mechanical engineer, operates his own metal fabricating company. David learned the trade as a teenager, and found that he enjoyed welding and putting things together with his hands – except for “the greasy part.”
He also liked to draw and in high school his godfather recommended him to a friend who ran an architectural firm. David taught himself AutoCad, an early design technology, and shared his knowledge with his older colleagues. After high school, he attended the Caribbean School of Architecture at the University of Technology in St. Andrew, earning his Bachelors and Masters in architecture. He continues to be in the first wave of those who embrace emerging and evolving design technologies and 3D software such as Revit.
After working for firms in Jamaica and Florida, he joined Centerbrook in 2006 and has contributed to academic, cultural, and corporate projects, among them the national headquarters of Welltower in Ohio, the Addison Gallery of American Art in Massachusetts, and more recently the Outpatient Pavilion and Academic Entrance Building at UConn Health. He was named an associate principal in 2019.
In Jamaica, one of his most successful projects was for a friend: “I enjoy residential design because you interact directly with the people who will be using the building. In this case it was with a friend. I was in the field while the house was being built, working with the carpenter and the mason, and it really opened my eyes to how your design gets implemented on the ground. To me the spaces inside are the most important because that’s where people live. The best part is that the homeowner and I are still friends.”
- LEED AP BD+C accredited, 2007
- JIA (Jamaican Institute of Architects) professional, 2012
- Races circuit cars
- Black belt in Karate
Agatha had a passion for art and drawing in high school. “At family gatherings I’d be in the corner sketching my relatives interacting with one another, or at other times I would draw the landscape I could see looking out of a window,” she says. “I also needed to know how things were put together, and the details of how they were designed.”
Deciding that architecture was a practical outlet for her creative impulses, Agatha pursued a bachelor's degrees in both architecture building sciences (with a minor in business management) from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Her college thesis focused on furniture design for tight living spaces, and she represented RPI in a furniture design/build competition. In a woodshop class, she also designed a wood-slated, undulating lounge chair that looked like a sure cure for insomnia? (it was comfy).
After stints with architectural firms in Connecticut, New York City, and Washington D.C., Agatha joined Centerbrook in 2003 and has served on design teams for projects on all three campuses of Quinnipiac University. She was project manager for its Health Professions Center, which includes a new medical school that is focusing on primary care. She honed her academic and laboratory design skills working on the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan. Her recent work includes designs for the Goodspeed Opera House, Springfield College and continued projects at Quinnipiac. She was named an associate principal in 2019.
“Architecture is a joy,” she insists. “I’m always learning something new and tapping into things that interest me, like medicine, science, and craftsmanship. Every job presents new challenges, multiple tasks, and there are opportunities to work with experts in various specialties, all collaborating toward one goal. It’s incredibly rewarding when you see people using the spaces and the buildings that you have created.”
- Centerbrook Travel Grant recipient, Valencia, Spain
- Like sports, hiking, travel, fluent in Greek
There was a picnic table in the backyard of the Santaniello home in Springfield, Massachusetts, and when Andrew was a youngster his dad would tell him to go out back and pound nails into it. It kept him busy for a spell. Before very long, the composition of the table had changed from wood to metal. The notion of doing a job right started there.
Andrew’s parents came to America from Italy as adults, learned the language, worked hard, and were sustainable well before the term came into vogue. They started their own businesses, tended a big garden, made homemade wine, and sewed his sisters’ dresses. Andrew liked to sketch early on and was into understanding how things went together in metal shop and drafting classes in high school. He took to the digital world right way, in particular the graphic programs.
He pursued his bachelor's and master's degrees in architecture at Norwich University in Vermont, and after working for another Connecticut firm, he joined Centerbrook in 1996. He was named an associate principal in 2019.
Andrew has been project manager for a number of high profile jobs, including the Sullivan Museum and History Center at his alma mater, the national headquarters for Welltower in Ohio, and the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington, Connecticut. This last complex project encompassed 173,000-square-feet and cutting edge research laboratories; it also entailed coordinating design and construction management with a large team of architects, consultants, contractors, and state and local officials. He's now undertaking a very similar design coordination effort as project manager of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History's extensive renewal project.
Andrew approaches such challenges with positive thinking: “I have learned that the most important thing about getting a project done right is the relationships you foster with team members. I enjoy getting to know people, all kinds of people, and sharing a laugh down in the trenches. And these relationships are important when you are solving problems in the home stretch during construction. You have to be firm, you can’t avoid difficult issues, but you can also be respectful and polite while not taking yourself too seriously.”
- Gave a presentation on design at the opening of an architectural exhibit at Norwich University, in the building he helped to design
- Played varsity basketball in college
Architecture is Brian’s second career, his first being in the performing arts, as a dancer with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre. But all along, there were indications of his future profession.
When the ABT was planning a relocation of its rehearsal facilities from New York’s Upper West Side, it enlisted Brian to draw test layouts of how the rehearsal spaces would fit into a prospective building. On tour, he enjoyed meandering about the theaters, studying the architecture and inspecting back-of-house spaces.
“One sign that architecture was an interest was that after several years of living in Manhattan, I still walked around like a tourist, eyes up, admiring the buildings,” Brian says.
In 1985, Brian turned his talents to architecture and joined Dubose Associates of Hartford, where he worked on cultural, commercial, residential, and academic buildings as project manager. He joined Centerbrook in 2005 and was named an associate in 2012.
Among the buildings he has contributed to are: Renaissance Hall at Buckingham Browne & Nichols in Cambridge, Massachusetts; the Rocky Top Student Center at Quinnipiac University; Lakewood House, a widely published private residence; and the Academic Laboratory Building at Southern Connecticut State University. He also served as the project manager for the new home for Quinnipiac’s School of Law.
“The details of a building are critical because they create a visceral connection with people,” he says. “At the York Hill Campus Student Center, for example, the railings on the grand staircase feature metal profiles of the school mascot, a bobcat, climbing up and down at various intervals.”
- Centerbrook Travel Grant recipient
- Renovating a 19th Century farmhouse
It was an idea born of an observation from her mother. A career in architecture. Perhaps, subconsciously, the idea was already percolating. But it was Cassie’s mother who helped her launch the next phase of what has been an interesting life journey.
Cassie was born in Pittsburgh. At the age of three her family moved to Lagos, Nigeria. Her father’s occupation – consultant engineer for an electrical company – required another international relocation when she was 10, this time to Leicester City, England. Along the way, in this early life’s journey through different cultural experiences, Cassie developed her interest in the arts.
In her teens, Cassie delved into photography, and though she may have been shooting whatever she found interesting, her lens often focused on buildings. Reading between lines as perhaps only a mother can, one day she posed the question to Cassie, “Have you thought about being an architect?”
It was an epiphany of sorts. “Architecture? Yes!” A high school internship with a firm in Leicester City formalized Cassie’s new direction. Upon graduation, she returned to the U.S. to pursue an architecture degree at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston.
Cassie met her future husband, Drew, during their first year at Wentworth. Later, as graduation neared, they made a pact to move together when one or the other found employment. Drew landed a job in San Jose, California, and Cassie did the same soon after they relocated.
With her career in architecture underway, Cassie hit the ground running on a number of projects. Among the highlights during her time in the Golden State was a master plan for a school district that encompassed nine different schools, and a 120,000-square-foot office renovation.
In 2016, Cassie and Drew decided to return to New England and settled in Connecticut. She went to work at Kenneth Boroson Architects in New Haven and he founded a business in Chester that makes leather goods. Cassie primarily concentrated on multifamily housing projects, including an 81-unit, three-building project using Passive House principles designed to achieve net-zero energy efficiency.
Cassie joined Centerbrook in February 2018. She and Drew now reside in East Haddam, Connecticut.
“This creative thing brings new life every day.”
That’s how Jiaying Bai (pronounced Jye-ing Bye) refreshingly describes her interest in design.
Jiaying grew up in Nanjing, China, the daughter of scientists. It was her mother’s interest in the arts that sowed the first design seeds in Jiaying’s mind. At an early age she took to drawing, and to this day she’s more at ease expressing herself visually.
Jiaying began her college studies focusing on graphic design, with the thought that it was somewhere between design and art. But the fit wasn’t quite right.
While at Tongji University in Shanghai, Jiaying visited many exhibitions and museums, and became more interested in designing in 3D. She had also been thinking more about designing for people. A third influence, she adds, was a Japanese home improvement TV show. She was moved by how people’s lives could be changed through renovations. This convergence redirected her path toward architecture.
Inspired, Jiaying decided to pursue a master’s degree in architecture in the United States. She attended the Rhode Island School of Design’s interior architecture program, where she specialized in adaptive reuse.
Jiaying joined Centerbrook after graduation. She’s found Centerbrook endearing not only for its family atmosphere, but because of how the firm works with its clients, and its regard for how building users feel about the design.
“I care a lot about what people think of designs. That doesn’t mean I don’t think I’m creative myself, but I do think that design is something that you should do for people specifically.”
In her spare time, Jiaying likes to doodle and draw cartoons of people. She also enjoys singing, and had a band during college.
While Jiaying has no immediate family in the U.S., her fiancé is currently in Georgia pursuing a doctorate at Emory University.
Dan joined Centerbrook Architects in 2008 after working for firms in Massachusetts and earning his masters in architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design.
He has served on design teams for academic and cultural projects, among them buildings for Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania and Yale University. He was project manager for the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center O’Neill buildout, the reimagined Red Barn at Mitchell College, and Connecticut's first cohousing development, known as Rocky Corner.
Dan is a member of the Centerbrook Sustainability Committee, a recipient of a Centerbrook Travel Grant, and has taught at Boston Architecture College.
Prior to his design career, Dan ran his own construction business for four years and was an inveterate world traveler. He trekked across America in a pickup truck (towing his 650 cc motorcycle), circumnavigated the planet another time, and spent nearly three months working on a fishing trawler in the Bering Sea, during the winter. He’s been to Barcelona three times to contemplate Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia.
He takes his two sons to barn-raisings and he and his family live in their third “fixer-upper.”
Although he’s remained close to his Connecticut roots, Jim brings a diverse background of professional experience to his accountant position at Centerbrook.
Fresh off of earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting and business information systems in 2009 at Eastern Connecticut State University, Jim launched his career at Seaside Naturals in North Branford. A native of nearby Northford, Jim followed that with more than three years of service at a financial investment firm in North Haven. He joined Centerbrook in 2016 following two-plus years at an area auto dealership.
Beyond his professional duties, Jim has stimulating leisure activities. After dabbling in piano and a few other musical instruments as a youngster, Jim settled on playing drums in his early teens. He hasn’t looked back since.
Taking his craft seriously, Jim continually expands his repertoire. Focusing primarily on rock – Dave Grohl is his main influence – Jim has been a member of 30-some bands through the years. In demand, he’s often been in multiple bands simultaneously.
Although he doesn’t (yet) take it as seriously as his music, Jim recently ventured into canvas painting. Jim and a group of close friends gather monthly to watch instructional videos describing painting techniques, then challenge each other to see who can replicate it best.
The son of a clockmaker, René was schooled in fine detail and precision from an early age.
Growing up in Boxmeer, a city in the southeast corner The Netherlands, René helped his father in an assortment of tasks related to clocks, watches and jewelry. Assembling, disassembling, fixing, cleaning. This kindled an interest in designing and creating things beyond the family trade.
René’s initial exposure to the construction industry came from an uncle who was a builder, and another who was an estimator. He earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from HAN University of Applied Sciences and held an internship as a carpenter.
With training and experience in the E (engineering) and C (construction) components of the A/E/C acronym, René decided he wanted to pursue the A (architecture). He worked for three-plus years as an assistant project architect in Dublin, Ireland, before crossing the pond to a Manhattan-based, Dutch-American firm.
Eventually he wanted to gain an advanced degree in his chosen discipline, so René returned to The Netherlands and earned a master’s degree from Technical University Delft, the third-ranked architecture school in the world according to QS Top Universities.
Following jobs in The Netherlands and Latvia, René returned stateside and joined RGB Architects in Providence, Rhode Island. But this time, he made the transition with his new family. René had met his then-future wife, Kimberly, a Connecticut native, during his stint in New York City. Together they welcomed a son, Pieter, when they lived in Latvia.
René brought a diverse portfolio of work to Centerbrook when he joined the firm in February 2018. He was the head draftsman and site architect on a seven-story, mixed-use development located in a Dublin suburb; he was the assistant project manager for programming the high-profile Eastern Docklands development in Amsterdam; and he assisted in a contemporary concept design for an 18-story office tower in The Hague. At RGB he was the project manager for a job at the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office.
Since joining Centerbrook, René has contributed to the New Canaan Library and Bowdoin College Schiller Coastal Studies Center projects. He and his family now reside in Waterford, Connecticut.
In his spare time, René has a special interest in housing the homeless, a cause he picked up in Dublin and has since carried on. He once helped build mud houses in Mozambique with Samaritan’s Purse, and has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity. René is now involved with Malta, a faith-based homeless outreach program in the Groton and New London area.
Ron grew up on the family dairy farm in southern New Hampshire and after school he helped out with the milking and other chores, including repairing the barns and the sugar shack, where maple sap was rendered into syrup. So Ron was fairly handy right out of the gate.
The family was friendly with a “second home” neighbor who owned a vinyl siding business in Madison, Connecticut, and he invited Ron to join the firm. After a stint doing siding, he went to work for a general contractor.
“I had learned how to repair a few things from working on the farm, but I really learned the trade during five years as a carpenter’s assistant,” he says.
Ron graduated with flying colors, and in 1987 he and a partner started their own Essex-based construction firm, Triangle Building Associates, which is still going strong and where his eldest son works.
Ron’s association with Centerbrook began long before he was hired as facilities manager in 2014. Triangle worked on a number of the firm’s residential projects as well as on the homes of members of the firm, including several of the partners. Among the highlights of his portfolio are the tower addition and renovation to the Aki House in Guilford and the Mitchell-Haney House in Essex, which was featured on the cover of Fine Homebuilding Magazine.
Ron is well aware of the fabled tension between builders and designers ⎯ as in “Oh no, here come the architects; I wonder what they have dreamed up today.” ⎯ but his relationship with Centerbrook and other architects belied the stereotype. Besides, his eldest daughter is an architect, in China.
“I appreciate what architects do, what they bring to a project, and how important it is to get the design right,” he says.
Ron and his wife Carole have four children. Ron still visits the family farm periodically with his siblings and on weekends helps his wife with her landscape design and installation business, where their youngest son works, too.
After spending half a dozen years driving by the Centerbrook offices with her son attending elementary school across the street, Jill was in the right place at the right time for an opportunity to join the firm.
A native of nearby Old Saybrook, and after moving away to study and practice architecture in locals ranging from Washington, D.C. to Washington State, Jill returned home to Connecticut in the early 2000s. She joined Centerbrook in 2019.
In high school, architecture was not a clear-cut direction for Jill. She had an affinity for drawing and painting, and envisioned a career in the fine arts. After attaining a degree in graphic design from the University of Connecticut, she landed a job drafting for an environmental consultant in Arizona. It was there that the architectural seed was planted.
Jill went back to school and earned a three-year master’s degree in architecture from the University of New Mexico. During the two summers while in the UNM program, she interned with the National Park Service documenting roads and bridges in Yellowstone and in Washington D.C. More than a dozen of her team’s bridge drawings currently reside in the Library of Congress.
With an architecture degree in hand, Jill went from the Southwest to the Northwest, and spent two years in Seattle before returning to Connecticut to be with family. She worked at Point One Architects for more than a decade before striking out on her own for a period. Prior to joining Centerbrook, Jill spent three years as a facility designer at General Dynamics Electric Boat in New London.
Outside of the office, Jill and her family are immersed in soccer culture as both fans and players. She previously coached her son’s youth team and has played in adult recreation leagues, where she met her husband. They all enjoy watching and attending professional and international matches.
Jill (last name pronounced Cart-ah-hey-nah) resides in Ivoryton with her husband, Victor, their son, two cats and a dog.
Adam was anything but a computer geek in high school, and even toyed with the idea of studying architecture. He switched to computer science because he felt that architecture would be a relatively static pursuit, while the burgeoning digital world would be constantly changing, presenting new challenges and opportunities. He was half right.
As part of the firm’s two-person IT department for nearly two decades, he has witnessed the dramatic impact that those ever changing computers have had on how buildings are designed and built. After graduating from Porter and Chester Institute and working for a computer firm for three years, Adam joined Centerbrook in 2001 to help keep the firm on the cutting edge of technology. A Centerbrook project was once featured as a case study in the official training guide for Autodesk Revit and the firm has “virtualized” its servers, increasing efficiency while also saving office space and utility costs.
“I like the hands on stuff, customizing computers for people, fixing them, and helping staff get the most out of the various design and communication software,” Adam says. "Our job is to keep people current on the newest electronic tools – we call it ‘Tips and Tricks.’ We go where the technology takes us. Some days I’m not at my desk for more than a minute at a time – at least it seems that way. This firm is very conscious of how technology can advance and improve projects for its clients. People who have gone to other firms still call us looking for help.”
- Adam is good at badminton, capturing the office doubles title, with his IT colleague Mike, four times.
- An avid sports fan, Adam reports with wit and telling insight on intramural office athletics.
- Grew up on “an historic dirt road” in Harwinton, Connecticut. Harwinton had one stop light back then, still does.
- All his relatives call him for tech support.
Ken began pondering a career in architecture in second grade. He liked to draw and when his mother told him that architects used pencils all day long, he was suitably impressed.
Growing up on a farm in Connecticut, Ken was surrounded by traditional architecture. That early influence helped shape the practical approach to design he has maintained throughout his career.
Ken used his Centerbrook Travel Grant trip in 2013 to study Roman pavement patters in Italy. He came away most impressed by the Pantheon in Rome. Arguably, the world’s most sustainable building, it was built nearly 2000 years ago and is still being used.
Ken earned his bachelor’s degree in architecture at the University of Hartford, and after working for design firms in New Haven and West Hartford, he joined Centerbrook in 2006. After a brief period away to pursue another opportunity, Ken returned to Centerbrook in 2019.
Ken has worked with a variety of project types at Centerbrook, including the famed Ocean House resort – an enduring Rhode Island landmark – as well as Quinnipiac University’s North Haven and York Hill campus expansions.
Ken was also on the design teams for a major project at Mary Institute & St. Louis Country Day School, the renovation of Demerec Laboratory at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and the chic Bedford Square mixed-use development in Westport, Connecticut.
“Not many architects get to work on both a new law school and a medical school in succession,” Ken said of his QU North Haven involvement. “I enjoy projects that have an impact on the lives of the people who use the building. I worked on an addition and renovation to an inner city school in New Haven, the Truman School, and when it was finished the Principal was so moved by the changes that she cried at the opening ceremonies. I’ll never forget that.”
Jim was inspired by teachers and mentors in high school who taught design and drafting. He proceeded to win a statewide design award and was off to the Rhode Island School of Design, where he earned dual bachelor's degrees in fine arts and architecture. He was the recipient of the Alpha Rho Chi medal from RISD in 1977. A master's in architecture from Columbia followed, as well as a Kinne Travelling Fellowship and a Palladio Study Program in Italy through Pratt Institute.
Jim joined Centerbrook in 1980 as an intern and has been a project architect, senior architect, associate and senior associate; from 1994 to 2005 he was a principal in the firm. He is currently the senior director of architectural practice and building science at Centerbrook, and spearheads an ongoing initiative to advance and formalize the firm’s approach to high-performance building and sustainable design, using the latest technologies, such as energy modeling software and BIM, to predict not only construction costs but also lifecycle expenses, i.e. how much a client will pay to operate a building during its life.
Jim has worked on signature projects here, such Kroon Hall at Yale University, the University of Connecticut Chemistry Building in Storrs, and the Palmer Events Center in Austin, Texas. He is a two-time recipient of the Centerbrook Architects Travel Grant.
LEED AP BD+C accredited, Jim has served on a number of professional organizations, among them the Education Committee of the Construction Institute at the University of Hartford. In 2010 he developed a Sustainable Design Certificate Program for the Construction Institute and has prepared a lecture on Integrated Design Process as an elective course.
In his spare time, he is an avid fisherman and watercolor painter of local scenes and buildings worldwide.
“The current emphasis on sustainability and energy efficient design is the right direction for architecture,” he says. “Scientists believe there is only a limited time for us to change how we are living on this planet before irreparable climate change occurs. Architects can make efficient, responsible buildings that also are beautiful. Kroon Hall is a good example of that.”
- Buildings Jim has worked on have won more than 40 national and regional design awards
- Reviews every Centerbrook project for quality assurance
- Most memorable catch: a wily bonefish on the flats off the Yucatan
- Has yet to win the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass & Bluefish Derby (but keeps trying!)
Bill is the director of finance and he likes to see that things are done efficiently – on or off duty, whether the activity is keeping accounts receivable current or playing golf before work, at the crack of dawn. Eighteen holes in less than two hours, so he can be the first one in the office at 7:30 a.m.? Not a problem.
Bill joined Centerbrook in 2000 after working for a variety of organizations as either comptroller or director of finance, including a visiting nurse association, a fiber optic manufacturer, and a large international data processing firm. He earned his bachelor's degree in accounting with high honors from Bentley College and his MBA from Quinnipiac University, where he was an Honor Society member. He has served as an adjunct professor at Quinnipiac's Lender School of Business. Bill regularly attends QU basketball and hockey games, which are held in the Centerbrook-designed People's United Center.
Bill also is active in his community, serving as treasurer of the local Knights of Columbus Chapter, a former scout leader, and coach for his three children’s youth sports teams. He has organized staff bowling nights and softball games and referees the annual Centerbrook Badminton Tournament.
In addition to running an efficient department, Bill has instituted a supplemental nutrition program in the office for low-blood sugar architects and their fellow travelers, consisting of an ongoing cornucopia of bulk purchased or close-out candies, snacks, and fruit.
- Bill’s nickname is $Bill
- His mother retired from teaching at age 86
- Went on a bird-watching safari in South Africa with his brother Jerry, who is a noted avian expert
- Does his own taxes
Peter’s life has been a modern odyssey. A dual citizen of the United States and Denmark, he grew up in Toronto. At Columbia University, where he earned a master's degree in architecture, he was awarded the William Kinne Fellows Traveling Prize that enabled him to visit Barcelona, and elsewhere. Previously, at the University of Virginia, he received his Bachelors of Architecture and lived on a campus designed by Thomas Jefferson.
After practicing architecture in San Francisco and New York City – where several buildings he worked on were published in Architectural Record – Peter joined Centerbrook in 2006. He has contributed to diverse projects here, from a college preparatory school in China and the Yale Peabody Museum master plan, to the award-winning Lancaster History museum and library and Bedford Square, a mixed use development in Westport, Connecticut. He also was on the design team for the Biomass Heating Facility at Hotchkiss School, which won an AIA New England Honor Award, among many other accolades.
During his travels, the architecture of Denmark made a strong impression on Peter: “I remember going to the studio of a family friend in Denmark who was an architect. It was in an old barn with big skylights, and people were drawing plans for buildings and making models. I thought this looks like a great place to work. Danish architecture is fairly distinct, characterized by humanist modernism: simple, concise design – but not purposely minimalist or ideologically rigid. It’s modern but social. People have to be comfortable in the spaces.”
- Named Centerbrook Associate in 2013
- Speaks French and Danish
Although he didn’t consider architecture as a profession until after he started in college, Rob traces signs of interest in design back to early childhood. And it is the experiences of those formative years that also guide him in the direction he wants to take his new career.
“I’ve always had a very strong interest in design, and see myself as a creative thinker. As a kid in the Dominican Republic, we played with what was available. We used different materials to create our own toys.”
In pursuit of the “American Dream,” Rob’s family came to the U.S. when he was 11 and settled in New London, Connecticut. Throughout middle and high school he had a strong interest in art, but also became fascinated with the environment. He chose to attend Eastern Connecticut State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental earth sciences with a concentration on sustainable energy.
It was there that Rob discovered architecture was a fitting way to meld his interest of design, art and the environment.
“Once I experienced what sustainable practices were and how they can be implemented, I became more familiar with architecture. I then felt like that became the right outlet for my creativity.”
Rob went on to study architecture in Rhode Island School for Design’s master’s degree program. He spent both summers during grad school as an intern at Centerbrook, and joined the full-time staff upon graduation.
In his free time, Rob enjoys running, hiking, traveling, and cooking with his wife, Leslie. She crafts cuisine from her Mexican heritage and he, recipes from the DR. Frequently they fuse the two cultures to the delight of family.
Rob and Leslie reside in Providence, Rhode Island.
Architecture wasn’t written in the stars for Aaron: the inspiration was closer to home. His father is an accomplished architect, partner in Amenta/Emma Architects of Hartford, and Aaron cut his teeth in design there from age 16.
“Working for my dad’s firm in the summers I picked up CAD [computer design software] and other skills,” he says. “It is how I learned to understand what architecture is, what it can do for people; it’s where I learned to love design.”
He proceeded to earn his bachelor's degree in architecture from the Catholic University of America – spent the summer of senior year touring Europe – and then acquired his master's in architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design.
He went to work for an Oregon firm, fitting out restaurant interiors, but before long was hired by the prestigious Gwathmey Siegel & Associates in New York City. His arrival coincided with the onset of the recent recession, but Aaron survived the downsizing and soon was working side-by-side with Robert Siegel on a number of major projects, including residential towers in Abu Dhabi and a guest house for filmmaker Steven Spielberg in the Hamptons. His command of digital design software was put to use crafting pre-design presentations for job submissions and meetings with prospective clients.
Since he joined Centerbrook in 2013, Aaron has worked on a variety of projects, including the award-winning Thompson Exhibition Building at Mystic Seaport Museum, the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Saint Andrew's School, the Commons for Global Study and Engagement at Connecticut College, and Carlson's Landing at Essex Boat Works. When not at his desk, Aaron can be found fishing or ice skating on Mill Pond behind the studio.
- Adept in Revit, Form-z, Rhinoceros 3D, etc.
- Caught and released a six-pound largemouth bass in his first week here
- Skates pretty well for a street hockey player
Caitlin has the considerable task of assisting Centerbrook’s five principals while juggling a number of the firm’s day-to-day operations. Thanks to her background coaching lacrosse, it’s just the type of fast-paced environment in which she thrives.
Originally from nearby Chester, Connecticut, Caitlin was recruited to play lacrosse following her prep career and chose Allegheny College in Pennsylvania. After her playing days concluded, Caitlin coached the sport at a high school in the Pittsburgh area while earning an online master’s degree in administration from Canisius College. Her coaching career took the next step when she served as a lacrosse assistant at Denison University in Ohio.
Caitlin made the decision to step away from coaching full-time and joined Zulily, an online retailer. It was there that she gained an appreciation for creative environments where things are always changing.
Ultimately, Caitlin chose to come back to Connecticut to be closer to family, and joined Centerbrook in 2018. Caitlin also returned to her lacrosse roots to coach the team at the nearby The Country School, where she once played.
Caitlin counts interior decorating as a principal hobby. And aside from doting on her dog, a basenji named Bananas, she also enjoys traveling with her wife, Michelle. Caitlin considers Liverpool, England – her father is from there – the favorite place she’s been, and hopes to one day visit Greece and Italy.
One might not readily identify a 500-mile backpack as a traditional way to get your batteries charged up to launch a professional career, but it was the perfect activity to precipitate Hugo Fenaux joining Centerbrook.
Upon graduation with a master’s degree from the esteemed Yale School of Architecture, Hugo journeyed El Camino de Santiago with an architecture classmate. Historically known as a Christian pilgrimage to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great, the El Camino de Santiago journey begins in France and terminates in Spain.
“For most, it’s a religious pilgrimage,” said Fenaux (pronounced Fen-oh). “But it’s also this crazy architectural pilgrimage because you’re moving through five or six different geographical zones where the building types and cultures change drastically.”
It was the first time Hugo had done something like that, but it certainly wasn’t his first immersive experience. After earning a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Virginia near his hometown of Farmville, Hugo spent a little over a year as a staff designer for VMDO Architects before continuing his education at Yale. While at Yale he had four different Graduate Teaching Fellow assignments, highlighted by the celebrated Jim Vlock Building Project – a tradition started by the late Charles Moore, Centerbrook’s founding forefather.
Although he is aware of a great uncle who was an architect, Hugo was not born into the design profession. The son of a baker from Belgium and a small business owner from Michigan, Hugo first gained interest in the field during his initial semester at UVa when dorm mates enticed him to sit in on a survey course. An undeclared major at the time, Hugo was intrigued enough that by his second semester on campus he had transferred to the architecture school.
Now a full-time member of the Centerbrook staff, Hugo lives in Essex with his wife, Brittany, who is also a graduate of the Yale School of Architecture.
Nick began his architectural career as a child, drawing house plans for fun and then turning them into LEGO creations. The style wasn’t modern or post-modern or Georgian. And although they tended to resemble the houses on his suburban Connecticut street, there were telling flourishes and special detailing that set them apart.
Seeing the elements of design and construction come together by watching shows like “This Old House,” and taking architectural design and drafting classes in high school, further sowed the seeds of an architectural career. After graduation, Nick enrolled at Wentworth Institute of Technology’s five-year Bachelor of Architecture program, and in the summers he interned for Fletcher-Thompson, a Connecticut architectural and engineering firm. He gained valuable experience in existing conditions studies, design development, and creating construction documents.
In his senior year, for accomplishments within the Wentworth architecture program as the American Institute of Architects Students chapter president, Nick and a fellow student shared the Alpha Rho Chi Award given out annually by the national architecture fraternity. After graduation, he returned to Fletcher-Thompson, concentrating on public school projects from elementary school through college, including a large new junior high school in Camden, New Jersey.
Nick joined Centerbrook in 2006 and worked on the projects at Yale University, Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School, and Quinnipiac University, including its new medical school, dining hall, and the Rocky Top Student Center on the York Hill Campus. He also served as project manager for the Quinnipiac North Haven Administration building from design through construction.
“Two of my favorite projects that I have been a part of are the Rocky Top Student Center at QU and the Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School. From Rocky Top’s stone patio that has views of New Haven and Long Island Sound, to its exterior detailing, and its monumental fireplace, it’s a unique project. The extensive use of wood for both structural purposes and fine details coveys a feeling of being in a rustic lodge. While the brick detailing and open classroom layouts of Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School inspired me to add creativity and flair to the elementary school I would work on during my Centerbrook hiatus”
In 2017, Nick left Centerbrook to pursue another opportunity, but returned to the firm in the fall of 2019. During this hiatus, Nick had the opportunity to oversee the design, detailing and construction of a new public elementary school in South Windsor, CT. “One of my accomplishments during that time away, was being able to deliver the client a unique, thoughtfully designed building that came in under budget.”
- Has been a mentor to high school students interested in architecture, construction, and engineering, and continues to mentor emerging professionals in the office.
- Operated a 1911 Trolley and 70’ sternwheeler at local amusement park Lake Compounce during the summers after high school graduation.
- Has two very active boys who hope to someday be American Ninja Warrior champions.
Design/build is a family tradition. Frank’s father is a furniture designer who crafts and sells his bespoke creations, and his uncle is a contractor who builds high-end residences.
To help pay his way through college, Frank identified and bought tumbledown classic furniture – often designed by prominent architects such as le Corbusier, Eames, Saarinen, Breuer, Van Der Rohe – and proceeded to refurbish and resell them to collectors around the world. He was studying the manufacturing and marketing end of the furniture business at High Point University when he realized that design held more interest for him.
“I was finding these wonderful chairs, many of which were designed by architects, and the connection led me in that direction,” Frank says.
After college he earned his masters of architecture at North Carolina State University, where he and several fellow students captured first prize in the U.S. Green Building Council’s annual design contest with their passive solar house. Their prototype was used for three Habitat for Humanity homes.
In collegiate summers Frank also worked as a designer and builder – drawing plans and pounding nails for a local design/build firm.
“I found that building things is the best way to become a better designer of things,” he says. “You appreciate the practical consequences that will flow from your plans, how things will be implemented down the line by various building contractors.”
After college, Frank worked for a Raleigh architectural firm on health care and residential projects and was on the team that won a design competition for a public plaza and clock tower for Wake Tech Community College. He joined Centerbrook in 2013 and has contributed to projects at Quinnipiac University, Duke University and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
- Remodeled and renovated his family’s house and kitchen
- Spearheaded a competition to design and build bus shelters for a North Carolina women’s shelter
- Has a vintage modern chair collection
His grandfather was a master carpenter with a barn full of tools that Mike would use to build things, including scale model cars. When the first Star Wars movie came out – employing models to create its dazzling special effects – he realized that his pastime had practical applications. Before long he was on the road to a career in architecture, which involves model building. He took drafting and mechanical engineering courses, eventually earning his Bachelors from Roger Williams College.
He went to work for a New Haven firm building models but also as Project Manager on academic and residential projects. Half way through his tenure, he saw an opportunity that would change his career. Computer-aided design (CAD) was in its infancy and firms were grappling with how to integrate it. Mike stepped up and led the transition serving as CAD manager, the point man for acquiring the knowledge to support and train the staff.
“I saw all this digital technology was here to stay and I realized it was something I had to do, something I really wanted to know about,” Mike said. “I didn’t know anything really about computers then. But it wasn’t a struggle to learn because I really wanted to do it.”
A Connecticut native, Mike was aware of Centerbrook, had applied after college, and received a very gracious rejection letter. That stuck with him because it was the only firm of many Mike applied to that actually acknowledged receiving his resume. He tried again in 2001 and was hired, not as an architect, but as CAD Manager in its IT Department. The role has gotten more complex, encompassing the implementation of many pieces of 3D design software. He is now considered the Digital Design Coordinator, fielding questions and dispensing digital wisdom. Knowing both architecture and the latest design technology makes Mike doubly valuable.
- Bikes 150-200 miles a week
- His Old Lyme High School golf team won the state title
- Four time winner of Centerbrook Badminton Tournament
An artistic, tinkering bent is embedded in the Hayn DNA. From a family that includes artists, but also a draftsperson and machinists, Derek came to appreciate how something could be both beautiful and precise. And in many cases it was the precision that made it beautiful. He remembers when his aunt, the draftsperson, gave him plans for a helicopter she was working on. He still has them. As a kid, he’d check out books from the library to teach himself to code rudimentary programs. “I’d sit there for hours trying to work out some problem, copying lines of code from a book, making tweaks along the way. Understanding why something worked was always as important as making it beautiful.” By high school Derek was designing advertisements for the family businesses and working in sign shops; he was well acquainted with his prospective career path. He earned his Bachelors of Arts in Graphic/Information Design – Magna Cum Laude and with the department’s honor award – from Central Connecticut State University.
Derek joined Centerbrook in 2006 as its Graphic Designer. He is responsible for the visual communication of the firm and designed its latest book, Centerbrook 4. He oversees graphic materials produced by the office and assists with environmental design and fundraising materials for clients. His passion for design is equaled by an enthusiasm for photography and videography, examples of which appear on Centerbrook's website and his own. He’s never seen himself as only a graphic designer; while his classmates were cutting up and scanning photography books for their design projects, he was out taking the photos. “Photography and graphic design go hand in hand; composition, balance, contrast, … all the principals of design apply to photography too.” This bleeds into his personal life; an inveterate traveler, Derek's camera is always at the ready.
Leslie provides the gravitational force that holds the pin-wheeling marketing department together. Its longest serving member, she is master of its myriad mysterious machinations: from graphics, editing, and data collection to writing, photo editing, and project retrieval. She helps to create glossy bid submissions, format images, and convince awards juries that Centerbrook is the one. Since she joined the firm in 1987 and took over responsibility for this last duty, it has garnered more than 380 national and regional awards – and as many as 17 in one year.
Leslie attended Kenyon College and Gibbs College, and also studied dietetics and nutrition at the University of New Haven while working at Centerbrook. Her command of the language is unassailable: she knows when a hyphen is in order, and when not, if a word is pretentious, pluperfect, or downright supercilious.
Leslie’s eclectic interests encompass: competitive autocross racing; cooking; cycling and tandem bicycling with her husband and fellow travelers; skiing, hiking, bird watching, and her resident parrots (she has three that are rescues). When she shares her culinary creations with marketing colleagues – perchance, a Norwegian Fystekake Almond Tart or Blueberry Tea Bread – the department quickly becomes a popular destination.
Her desk has a panoramic view of the Falls River and Millpond, and she is often the first to spot migrating herons, egrets, and hooded mergansers.
“Working at Centerbrook, for me, is kind of like being on a bicycling tour,” she says. “There is always something different to see or do, and a new project to learn about. The people here do good work for interesting clients. The view is always different and always compelling from where I’m sitting.”
- Bikes 4,500 miles a year
- Has raced a Miata and Toyota MR2
Thanks to a liberal arts education and a Connecticut Yankee upbringing, Chris has enjoyed a peripatetic career. It has encompassed two continents, working for a house wright doing historical renovations, running his own car detailing business, and an inside-the-Beltway position that gave him entre to the Oval Office. While earning his Bachelors in Political Science, Phi Beta Kappa, from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, he gave campus tours and spent one semester as an intern in the office of United States Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. After graduation, Chris served for four years as a member of the Senator’s staff, after which he was appointed to the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad. This position entailed fact-finding tours of Eastern European nations and negotiating agreements with officials to ensure that historic cemeteries and other heritage sites were being protected – a requirement for admission into NATO.
After globetrotting for several years, Chris and his wife Kim decided to return to their native state. She taught and he went to work for The Nature Conservancy as an Assistant Director of Philanthropy. In 2003 he joined Centerbrook as Director of Business Development with responsibilities for developing and implementing the firm’s outreach and marketing strategies. He also makes the trains run on time to meet deadlines for job submissions. When not conducting, Chris is a voracious reader of historical works and fiction, tinkers with cars, enjoys a wooden kayak he crafted, and takes the family out on the Connecticut River in the boat that he and his father built long ago. “I think the diverse jobs I’ve had share a sense of public service, whether a legislative initiative or preserving wild places,” he says. “I feel that way here, that architecture has an important role to play, that it can make individual lives and society better.”
- Attended two Presidential Inaugurations, palavered with President Bill Clinton
- When Centerbrook commissioned its new solar panels, Sen. Lieberman flipped the switch
- Has read all four of Robert Caro’s books on Lyndon Johnson
Jay hails from the Green Mountain State, where he grew up obsessed with alpine skiing, bicycles, and photography. He earned a bachelor’s degree in visual communications from Lyndon State College in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, to this day his favorite place.
A career as a videographer in broadcast television took him to Florida, Texas, back to Florida, and ultimately to Connecticut – winning awards, including three Emmys. He covered the first Space Shuttle launch, riots in Miami, Super Bowls, and visits by four U.S. Presidents and Prince Charles and Lady Diana. He spent the night out in Hurricane Andrew filming the ongoing devastation, and he was detained briefly in Haiti, at gunpoint, on suspicion of being a spy. He also had a stint with the Dallas Cowboys during Hall of Fame coach Jimmy Johnson's tenure, helping establish the team’s Broadcast Television Production Department.
Jay returned to school to earn his masters of architecture from the University of California, Los Angeles. He worked for firms in Colorado and Connecticut before joining Centerbrook in 2001, where he has served on design teams for buildings at Quinnipiac University, Wesleyan University, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Among the Quinnipiac projects are the York Hill Campus residence halls, the People's United Sports Center for hockey and basketball, and renovations for the Carl Hansen Student Center and Echlin Center. He also served as project manager for the new athletic complex on the main campus that features two stadiums.
He describes the difference between his two beloved professions this way: “Photography is reactive, trying to capture what Henri Cartier-Bresson called the ‘decisive moment,’ while architecture is proactive; you create the image as you, and the client, would like it to be.”
- Named Centerbrook Associate in 2013
- Enjoys boating on Connecticut River and Long Island Sound
- Has a small, but growing, collection of BMW motorcycles
- Jay is not a spy
Russell is a Norwich, Connecticut, native who believes architectural osmosis influenced his career path. The historic mill town boasts arresting examples of American design through the centuries, from uncomplicated colonial capes and grand Victorian mansions to Romanesque brick office buildings and a deliciously Art Deco Town Hall. He took them all in and even sketched a few to pass the time. He also had two family friends who served as mentors, and he designed a prospective addition to his high school for his senior project.
A masters of architecture grad from the University of Pennsylvania, Russell joined Centerbrook in 1995, and his work here reflects an eclectic bent, encompassing academic, cultural, religious, residential, and corporate projects. He was named associate in 2004 and senior director in 2014. He also has been active in architectural and civic organizations.
“I love projects that involve renovation or restoration or adding onto an existing structure, as we did at the Buckingham Browne & Nichols School in Massachusetts,” he says. “When you repurpose a building for a new use, you allow its legacy to continue. This is often the most economical and sustainable way to provide space for clients. We did this at the Green Street Arts Center in Middletown, Connecticut, where we took a building that originally was a school and transformed it into a place for the community to pursue and enjoy the arts.”
- Trustee of his alma mater, The Williams School, in New London, Connecticut
- Member of the National & Connecticut Trusts for Historic Preservation
- Past president of AIA New England and AIA Connecticut
- Trustee of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme
- Chairman of the Hadlyme Ferry Historic District Commission
- Hardly ever takes the Hadlyme Ferry
- His family garden boasts six dozen tomato plants
Light filtering through iron feathery vines spiraling left and right along the veranda and a splash of blue azulejo tiles on the floor ...
These images constitute a young Kas’s first architectural impressions. Memories from Cuba, the tropical island where she was born. When Kas was three years old she and her family moved to the United States as political refugees, but the early memories of natural motifs, color, and enclosure would stay with her.
An artist from an early age, Kas chose a career in architecture – perhaps surprisingly – just as much for its limitations as for its opportunities. She sees art as a chance to describe possible worlds, emotions, and ideas. Kas’s art portfolio includes everything from watercolors of buildings, to landscapes, and people. But the human figure remains by far her preferred subject. She claims influence from Bauhaus artist Oskar Schlemmer, surrealist Salvador Dali, and Giorgio de Chirico. It’s not necessarily about the objectivity of the human figure, but rather its relationship with the world it exists within.
“For me, creating is like breathing. It’s something I can’t imagine not doing, but I also love the constraints of real world challenges. When you’re painting, it’s very much a free flowing process. With architecture, you’re fulfilling a greater purpose, and you’re hopefully helping people by creating beautiful functional spaces. The beauty of architecture is how easy it is to share it, and hopefully what you design helps make other people’s memories too.”
That philosophy also very much informed her direction for education. Kas earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Princeton University, a program known for its strong conceptual teachings. To complement her training, Kas sought out a more hands-on and practical advanced degree experience and attained a master’s from the Yale University School of Architecture.
While at Yale, Kas took Kent Bloomer’s course on architectural ornament, and was intrigued to the point where she interned with his studio for a summer. With her background as an artist, Kas was naturally drawn to ornament. It’s as if her early memories of ornate railings were pointing to this moment.
“When you add detail to space, you embed a sense of care. Through ornament you can tell so many stories, which ultimately should complement the larger architectural work.”
After graduating from Yale, Kas decided to stay in Connecticut. It was an easy decision since she has fallen in love with New England.
“I really adore all of the unique histories the towns and cities around here have. I could go around documenting the ornament of Essex alone and who knows when I’d be done. There is an intense sense of place here. And being able to walk, bike, or take the train anywhere is certainly a plus.”
Fluent in Spanish, English and French, Kas joined Centerbrook after graduating from Yale. She resides in Essex, Connecticut, with her partner Misha Semenov, another designer at the firm. She enjoys hiking and other outdoor adventures, reading about ancient Rome, hanging out with her pup Daphne, and baking. Above all else, Kas enjoys her free time creating quasi-surrealist paintings.
When Erik was six-years-old, he was drawing cars, all the time. His dream was to be an automotive designer, even though the field of industrial design in Sweden was oversubscribed at the time. Seeing that the competition was fierce, he changed his focus to architecture and pursued a masters degree at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.
He took an exchange year in France at L’Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture Paris-Val de Seine and sought an internship in America. He wrote every architectural firm featured in a book that his mother had given him, and Centerbrook replied. He spent the summer of 2001 working on residential projects, and remembers vividly designing a grand staircase that incorporated display shelving. He was way ahead of the digital curve at that time in his mastery of 3D virtual modeling.
Erik returned to Centerbrook full-time in 2004 and has worked on a wide variety of projects, among them the widely published Hotchkiss Biomass Heating Facility, the Ocean House resort hotel, and the Academic Laboratory Building at Southern Connecticut State University. On his Centerbrook Travel Grant he helped to construct a straw bale house in Arizona – it took two days and cost a mere $3,209.19 in materials.
A lifelong Francophile, Erik views America as a close second as a place to live and work. “It was refreshing coming to Centerbrook,” he says. “In college, in Sweden, design is minimalist, everything must have a function. It’s a regimented style. But here people were doing outrageous things, curves for the sake of curves, classic and modern comingling. It opened my imagination and broadened my outlook on Architecture.”
- Has traveled more in France than he has in Sweden
- Likes to play pool
- Hiked up Mont Ventoux
Following a pair of summer internships with Centerbrook, Ben joined the firm’s full-time staff in the summer of 2018 upon graduation from the esteemed Architecture, Art and Planning program at Cornell University.
A second-generation designer, Ben was able to step in right away and provide technical assistance for Centerbrook design teams through his expertise with software programs like Lumion, Revit, Grasshopper and Rhinoceros 3D. During his second internship with Centerbrook, Ben was instrumental in implementing virtual reality at the firm.
Originally from Suffield, Connecticut, Ben’s father is an architect and his mother was a graphic designer. Despite the family’s artistic influence, he wasn’t overtly drawn to the profession growing up. Only as an upperclassman at Suffield Academy – when it came time to start applying for colleges – did he reach a decision on what and where to study. With a design career in mind, Ben picked Cornell, annually ranked at or near the top of the Architectural Record list of “America’s Top Architecture Schools.”
Beyond his technical proficiencies, Ben has professional interests in sustainability, digital fabrication and parametric design.
In his spare time, Ben’s hobbies include metal and woodworking. He also enjoys sailing and target shooting.
Patrick fashioned his first architectural model for Centerbrook in 1990 when he was a freelance design consultant. He earned his bachelor of science degree in industrial design from the University of Bridgeport, and prior to becoming the firm’s master model maker and industrial designer in 2006, he worked as a mason, a toy designer for Hasbro, a welder/metal artisan, and an exhibition designer.
In addition to intricate and often quite large scale models of Centerbrook projects, Patrick fabricates and creates prototypes of lighting fixtures, furniture, and custom architectural features, such as a fountain for the School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University. His six-foot two-inch replica of the historic powerboat “Aphrodite,” a gift from the firm to the client, is on permanent display at the Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island. He has been a visiting instructor at the University of Bridgeport’s Industrial Design Department and leads the Centerbrook workshop on handcraft and making for the architectural staff.
Patrick credits a high school art teacher, a stonemason, and his father for instilling in him the determination to make and to fix things the right way. “My interest in design came from my dad, who is very artistic and handy,” he says. “Growing up, I was always interested in watching him work, whether he was making built-in cabinets for our bedrooms, fixing the lawnmower, tuning the car, or painting the house. By necessity and talent, he could do that whole Yankee self-sufficiency thing. I have found that what is simple and practical can also be beautiful.”
- Judge of urban park furniture competition sponsored by Architecture for Humanity’s New Haven chapter
- Centerbrook Travel Grant recipient
- Designed, built, and donated Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to local high school thespians
- Plays ice hockey
- Mantra: “Don’t overthink it.”
Sheryl, head of Centerbrook’s Library and Product Resources Department, is unique in the office. No one contributes to as many projects or researches new products as thoroughly. For example, innovations which increase energy conservation and end-user wellness. More than 80 percent of the firm’s jobs – whether great or small, academic or corporate, residential or cultural – require her advice, aesthetic acumen, and her product knowledge and research. Her duties entail assisting the architectural staff in sourcing solutions for finishes and design systems – everything from acoustic, flooring and lighting products, to highly sustainable structural and building envelope materials.
Sheryl joined Centerbrook in 1985 after graduating from SUNY New Paltz with a bachelor’s degree in Italian language, literature, and art history. She spent the next six years in Italy, where she worked as a teacher and translator. Sheryl was fortunate to take a couple of architecture classes at the University in Florence, which enhanced her desire to work in the profession.
“I was always interested in art and design growing up. I loved to draw,” she says. “My mother subscribed to Better Homes and Gardens and I’d pour over the houses, examining the architectural plans to see how everything was arranged. Both parents contributed to my interest in design, art and architecture. I learned from their appreciation for fine quality, perfected handcraft and detailed construction.”
Sheryl has been fortunate in her career to not only work at a place that carries craft and quality as its mantra, but also play an essential role in that effort.
“The great thing about my job is that I’m always learning new things. There are continuously new products and systems and technologies to evaluate, and Centerbrook is doing a wider variety of projects now than ever before.”
- Coordinates the Centerbrook Lunch & Learn program on innovative products
- Favorite projects have involved historic preservation, renovation, and sustainable design
- Organizes Centerbrook’s annual holiday gift effort for foster children
- Has taken graduate level fine arts courses at Wesleyan University
- Enjoys being ‘lost’ in gardening and working on projects in and around her house
- Is still enamored with the Italian language and all of its eloquence
Matt didn’t have to look too far to find role models. His father worked for the pioneering modern architect Edward Durell Stone in New York City and his mother has a degree in fashion design.
The family moved to South Windsor, Connecticut, where his father started his own firm and his mother designed baby clothing and chaired the planning and zoning commission. Matt worked some summers for his dad, helping to design custom homes, elderly housing, and condominium projects, and spent other summers landscaping or designing and framing custom homes for a local builder. He experienced the building environment from soup to nuts.
Matt earned a bachelor's degree in architecture from New York Institute of Technology, graduating Cum Laude, and was inducted into the honor society in architecture and allied arts. He worked for two Connecticut firms before joining Centerbrook in 1999. He has contributed to academic projects at Quinnipiac University, Yale University, the University of Connecticut, and the National Outdoor Leadership School in Colorado. He is proud to have had the opportunity of working on the 9/11 Memorial, Festival Plaza, as well as Development Services and McCoart buildings in Prince William County, Virginia.
For his Centerbrook Travel Grant, Matt visited Taliesin West in Arizona, Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and school in the desert. “I had visited Fallingwater in Pennsylvania on a school trip and just loved it, along with his work in general. The two houses are so different, yet each is so masterfully connected to their respective sites. At Taliesin, his apprentices would come and have to design and build their own housing with local materials, and examples still dot the landscape.”
In addition to hand drawing and Revit design software, Matt is handy with a driver and 9 iron, periodically representing the firm in charity golf tournaments.
- Contributed to a residential project that was published in Architectural Record
- Coaches Little League baseball and youth soccer
- Enjoys mountain biking, ice hockey, and fly fishing
Chuck has strong family ties in Switzerland, where the rich fabric of life, as well as the tapestry of buildings, people, and culture first mesmerized him as a child. He was fascinated by the happy accidents resulting from the mix of medieval and modern building elements. Throughout his career, Chuck has been focused on infusing the familiar with the unexpected by delving deeply into the history of both client and place.
Upon receiving a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Rhode Island School of Design in 1984, Robert L. Harper, FAIA - a founding partner of Centerbrook’s predecessor firm Moore Grover Harper, and adjunct faculty member at RISD - invited him to join Centerbrook.
While he is a sought after residential architect, Chuck also has more than 35 years of experience designing a variety of cultural and academic buildings for clients, such as Stepping Stone Museum for Children in Norwalk, The Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida, the Thompson Exhibition Building at Mystic Seaport Museum, Quinnipiac University, and Dartmouth College. Chuck is currently involved with a student center and dining project at the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford, and in the planning of expansions for the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme and Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington.
Articles he’s written on library design in the digital age have been widely published, and his recent portfolio includes the design of libraries in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Projects he has worked on have won more than 20 design awards.
Chuck was named senior director in 2014 and is a member of the American Institute of Architects and the American Library Association. He is a regular visiting critic, panelist, and guest lecturer at both RISD, and Massachusetts College of Art.
Away from the office, Chuck’s passions include cycling, hiking, woodworking, and pulling the best espresso shots this side of the Atlantic.
Raised in the rural Connecticut, Alan was an accomplished “odd jobber” by age 15, working on varied restoration projects from an 18th century farmhouse and Victorian villa to vintage Chevys and BSA motorcycles. He also was adept at abstract painting and detailed pen and ink drawings of the natural world. These talents, and a Swamp Yankee “do it yourself” propensity, would serve him well in his architectural career: he liked to see how things worked by a process he calls “selective demolition.”
Alan pursued his bachelor in architecture with a minor in historic preservation from Roger Williams University, and earned a masters in architecture with an emphasis on urban design at University of Pennsylvania. Between college and grad school he served as president of the 10,000-member American Institute of Architecture Students and sat on the national AIA Board of Directors.
After working for New Jersey and Pennsylvania firms on academic, research and master planning projects, Alan joined Centerbrook in 2006 and was named an associate in 2012. He has contributed to sundry projects, among them: the Ocean House, which involved the replication of a historic resort hotel, the medical school at Quinnipiac University's North Haven Campus, and a new alumni and visitors center at Duke University.
Two of his favorite buildings are worlds apart: Kikutake’s administration building at the Izumo Shrine in Japan and the Biomass Heating Facility at the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut, which he oversaw as Project Manager and which has won several awards, including an AIA New England Honor Award. The building, which has been widely published, has reduced both emissions and fuel costs dramatically for the school.
“I enjoyed working on the woodchip-burning plant because we were designing a place that had a great backstory and, in spite of its utilitarian function, it’s really an elegant building. It also is designed to serves as an ancillary “real world” classroom – it’s not your average furnace.”
- LEED Accredited Profession
- Centerbrook Travel Grant recipient
- Like to fish, travel, wax sarcastic
- Taps Centerbrook’s sugar maple trees, shares the result
David was an art student, standing on the shore of Lake Michigan, when he realized that architecture was what he was about. At the time he was working on a video art installation – camped out with a tarp and blanket, in the fall, on a public beach – and had ample time to contemplate the vast organic form that is Chicago.
"I saw that architecture could collapse the distance between object and patron," David says. "Something I had been working toward previously through video, installation, and sculpture."
David proceeded to earn his bachelor's degree in architecture at Cooper Union and his master's at the Yale School of Architecture, where his interest in the relationship between the built and the natural world led him to take a number of courses at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (in a building that Centerbrook helped to design).
After working for two Connecticut firms, he joined Centerbrook in 2013 and has been on design teams developing a three-campus master plan for Quinnipiac University and sports facilities for field hockey, lacrosse, and soccer.
He continues to sculpt, paint, and plan installations, including one that would combine design with one of his pastimes: beekeeping.
- Has worked as a carpenter and a mason
- Conversant in the latest digital design programs
- Overly ambitious gentleman farmer
- Enjoys longboarding and Tai Chi
Legos and Lincoln Logs. The gateway toys to an architectural career.
Like a number of his fellow designers at Centerbrook, Matt Russo didn’t grow up in architecture. But, in another commonality, he was influenced by those ever-popular building sets, and pop-up books by his favorite childhood author David A. Carter.
Matt and his brother, who later went to engineering school, eventually took things to the next level. At Halloween, they would collect cardboard boxes from a local appliance store to make haunted houses for their garage in Branford, Connecticut.
As he got farther along into school and sports, Matt drifted from the maker mindset, but high school art classes in sculpture and multi-media rekindled an interest in design and he was inspired by a teacher to explore a creative major in college. Harkening back to his youthful building interests, he decided on architecture.
Matt attended Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, where he earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture. Along the way, he spent a semester abroad at Barcelona Architecture Center in Spain and supplemented his training with a couple of valuable internships.
Between his junior and senior years, Matt sought out a summer job working in construction in Hilton Head, South Carolina, where his family had vacationed since he was a toddler. He hoped it would be beneficial to practice the other end of the building process, and he came away with a healthy appreciation for the trade.
He parlayed the construction job to an architectural internship in South Carolina the following summer, an experience that Matt attributes with bridging his conceptual design background – at that point in his education – with the more technical work that he’d delve deeper into during grad school.
Matt completed architecture school in 2019 and joined Centerbrook that fall.
Beyond architecture, Matt likes to stay active. He had all three seasons covered throughout his school years playing soccer, hockey and tennis. Going to college, he wanted to continue playing team sports, but didn’t know if he’d have enough time due to the demands of architecture school. He tried out for the Roger Williams men’s tennis program and ended up playing all four years. He enjoyed the experience so much that he stayed on as an assistant coach during grad school.
In addition to tennis, Matt also enjoys traveling and cooking, which provides another creative outlet as well as an opportunity to connect with family.
While Matt is still getting his feet wet as a professional designer, he one day hopes to pursue his interests in urban waterfront design.
Andrew has been around, as befits someone who spent his formative years in far corners of New England, from southern Connecticut to Houlton, Maine (near Caribou), after which his family moved south, to Burlington, Vermont.
While earning dual bachelor's degrees in architecture and building science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in the slightly warmer climes of Troy, New York, Andrew took a welcome semester abroad in sunny Rome. Then, after working for a firm in Missouri, he and his new bride took an extended excursion throughout Europe: to Ireland and Paris and up the northern coast to Norway, finally into the Arctic Circle via a nostalgic cargo cruise ship, the MS Lofoten. They proceeded to tour the eastern coast of America, camping their way down to Florida, where their savings ran out. Andrew went back to work, for a firm in New Hampshire, before joining Centerbrook in 2007.
He has worked on projects at Quinnipiac University, including residence halls, a wind farm, and a student center. He also served as the co-project manager Academic Science and Laboratory Building at Southern Connecticut State University. Andrew has also coordinated early conceptual energy modeling efforts for Centerbrook projects.
When not designing, Andrew is busy enjoying outdoors activities with his family – pond skating, canoeing, camping, fishing etc. – and working on their circa 1865 home. A boat tinkerer, he has reconstructed a sunfish for his kids. He and his wife Amy are Cub Scout den leaders, and he coaches Little League.
Andrew also designed and built an elegant and highly crafted wooden chair – a chaise longue/Adirondack cross – for the Centerbrook Chair Workshop: “Nautically inspired, my design features boat-like elements. A wavy base, laminated keel, shaped frames, and steam-bent planking come together as an invitation to sit. White oak, both kiln dried and green, sapele mahogany, waterproof glues, stainless steel, and silicon bronze fasteners hold together this outdoor lounge chair. It is designed for watching vessels come and go from your favorite inlet.”
- Named Centerbrook Associate in 2013
- Boated down the Barrow River in Ireland for a week
Sue has had a multifaceted career. She earned her bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from Bryant University and served as a legal assistant for a state judge and as a security investigator for Colt Firearms, both in Hartford, before moving to southeastern Connecticut with her husband. She worked for the Lee Company, a major aerospace manufacturer, and then as a preschool teacher for a decade before joining Centerbrook in 2000.
Her diverse skills have been well suited for a number of positions here, including front office support staff, producing marketing materials, and her current post as shop drawing administrator. Sue tracks and coordinates all submittals with the design team and consultants, everything from shop drawings to building samples. She makes sure the submittals are categorized correctly and returned on time to the general contractor. She also archives the drawings, plans, and other relevant materials for completed jobs.
Although Sue does not have an architectural background, she gets to see buildings evolve from the early stages of site work to completion. “Each building has its own unique features and I get to learn about everything that goes into that space, from the mundane – like piping and wiring – to the beautiful interior and outdoor spaces.”
No one else in the firm is involved in each and every job Centerbrook does.
- Officer of the Clinton Land Trust
- Sings soprano in the Choir at her synagogue, Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek
- Loves to travel: been to South Africa, Hawaii, New Zealand, among other places
The son of biologists who emigrated from Russia, Misha was exposed early and often to the natural environment that surrounded his San Francisco home. These childhood experiences shaped many of the personal and professional interests he pursues to this day.
“Biology has always been a fascination for me because I grew up with my parents taking me out for hikes, camping, and exploring in the parks of northern California nearly every weekend. A lot of my curiosity and love for all life forms was instilled by them.”
On a parallel track, Misha also developed a youthful interest in design, often sketching vast imaginary cities both for humans and for his favorite animals. He recalls a time from his teens at NatureBridge Headlands, an environmental education center just outside of San Francisco, when his interests in biology and design first began to intersect.
“Working as an environmental educator taught me a lot about how people can connect to place in a meaningful way – our mission was to get Bay Area kids, many of them from the inner city, to get to know and care for the plants, animals, and ecosystems that surrounded them. I realized the siting and design of the campus itself was a teaching tool and an important part of that equation. That became part of my mission: to build buildings that could help reconnect humans with the rest of nature.”
When deciding what to pursue in college, Misha initially chose the path of design, and graduated as the valedictorian of his Princeton University class with a Bachelor of Arts degree in architecture.
“I felt a tension entering college about whether I wanted to pursue ecology and nature or architecture and design. I think my big moment was when I realized they weren’t mutually exclusive.”
Yale University provided the opportunity to study both at the graduate level, so Misha entered the schools of architecture and forestry and environmental studies. He enjoyed the dichotomy of the programs, and the challenge of linking the two when their respective cultures were so unique.
“The design world was all about how things looked and how they were presented. Designers were often ignorant of the science because the field is so focused on image and presentation. In the world of environmental science and ecology, on the other hand, good science wasn’t reaching decision makers or the public precisely because it was not visualized or communicated effectively.”
The lone member of his graduating Yale class to complete the dual degree program, Misha hopes to maintain a symbiotic relationship between ecology and architecture throughout his career.
“I think it’s very important that architects and scientists talk to each other so that design can be grounded in knowledge about nature. Architecture has the power to communicate ecology to people in a direct, emotionally moving way.”
In addition to architecture school, Misha gathered experience through summer internships at design firms in Boston, Miami and New York. He joined Centerbrook full-time upon graduation from Yale.
At Centerbrook, Misha is helping to implement the firm’s sustainability action plan and 2030 Commitment to zero-carbon buildings, and is organizing series of continuing education courses for the office on sustainable design, biophilia, and ecological integration.
Away from the office, Misha enjoys spending time outdoors with Kas Leiva – also a designer at Centerbrook – engaging in activities like hiking, backpacking, skiing and kayaking. He and Kas have taken to foraging for different edible plants and mushrooms and they relish incorporating their discoveries into new recipes.
Singing is also an interest that Misha has carried from elementary school musicals to the Princeton Chapel Choir. He is currently a chamber chorus singer in the Yale Camerata. In addition to choral, he also sings and writes other types of music, and is slowly improving his ukulele playing.
Misha and Kas reside in Essex, Connecticut. Together, they curate a blog, The Ecoempathy Project, that articulates their vision for an architecture grounded in nature.
After studying and practicing architecture in her native Moscow, Russia, Anna came to the United States to earn a master’s degree in architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Before joining Centerbrook in 2012, she worked for firms in Chicago and Newport Beach, California.
Anna’s design experience encompasses a wide range of local and international projects from urban planning and mixed-use developments to resort hospitality, retail, educational and residential buildings.
“I love the opportunity to participate in the diverse and collaborative atmosphere at Centerbrook,” she says. “I appreciate that every project here is unique, shaped by the undeniable commitment to creativity and reach individual qualities of design team members.”
With her passion for design and attention to detail, Anna has contributed to an array of projects at Centerbrook, including a new residence hall at Sacred Heart University, the Quinnipiac University School of Law, the Lancaster Country Day School Physical Education Athletic complex, a daycare center at PepsiCo, and the Keystone Academy in Beijing, China.
Anna’s lifelong interest in art and history and her international roots have given her a distinct vantage point to view American architecture and culture: “I am impressed at how much and how well Americans value and have preserved their historic environment. At the same time I applaud the genius and daring of American Modernists of the 20th century and stay fascinated witnessing the human rights movement and environmental awareness shaping the future of the American landscape.”
Anna’s goal is to preserve the architectural practice as a form of art.
“For me, architecture is not about the object, it is about the human experience, the story that buildings tell and how they influence the environment and the people.”
In Hyeon’s first year at college, at Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea, he had an opportunity to write an essay on the traditional rural house he grew up in. His insightful analysis was well received, and he was half way hooked on architecture. His first design studio, in which he created his own plans for a house, sealed the deal.
He majored in architecture engineering and earned two masters of architecture degrees, the second at Harvard. In between, he worked for Samoo Architects on high-rise residential buildings, libraries, and other projects. His urban design study at Harvard – “Revising the Dump” for a city in Holland – transcended theory: it was accepted as a blueprint to solve the problem.
Hyeon joined Centerbrook in 2003, working on academic and municipal buildings, including the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy Andover. He left Centerbrook in 2008 for RMJM Architects in New York, where he contributed to projects in China, Russia and Libya. He also was the project designer of a large renovation and addition to a student center and business school at Bellarmine University in Kentucky.
Hyeon returned to Centerbrook in 2013, working on projects at Quinnipiac University, including sports stadia.
“My experience living in and writing about the house I grew up in has formed the baseline for my approach to design,” he says. “Korean architecture is more translucent, has more ambiguous and porous relationships among the built world and natural world, the inside and outside. One or all of the spaces can be envisioned by the inhabitants, and as with a painting different people can interpret it differently.”
- Favorite architects: Louis Kahn and Sou Fujimoto
- Examined the Walt Disney Concert Hall for his Centerbrook Travel Grant
- Likes to ski with his family
According to Minnu, many people in her native India choose between medicine, architecture and engineering for a profession. She made her way in both architecture and engineering, and is equally interested in the artistic and structured aspects of design.
Minnu (name pronounced Mih-nu Srin-ee-vahs-in) earned her undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from the Government College of Engineering in Trivandrum, Kerala, her home state. She stayed in Trivandrum and worked with a software development firm for two-and-a-half years, but her interests started to shift towards architecture, a field where she could utilize both her artistic and technical skills.
Following a six-month internship with an architecture firm in Trivandrum, Minnu moved to Dayton, Ohio. She returned to school at the University of Cincinnati and earned a master’s degree in architecture.
Minnu gained an interest in sustainability during her time at UC – her thesis was on the sustainable skyscraper – as an essential element of building design that remains in the forefront of design decisions. She’s LEED-accredited and is Centerbrook’s first Certified Passive House Consultant.
She moved to Farmington, Connecticut, in the late 2000s and has practiced architecture in the state since. Her previous work spans from residential and mixed-use projects to casinos and parking structures. She joined Centerbrook in 2019.
Away from the office, Minnu enjoys hiking, cooking and traveling around New England with her husband, Kiron. She is also an avid painter and sculptor, and has an impressive collection of both oil and watercolor works as well as clay sculptures. Minnu describes her landscapes and portraits as realistic and detail-oriented.
Aaron grew up in historic Plymouth, Massachusetts, which introduced a passion for history and identity through architecture that persists today. Growing up, his father worked for a major airline carrier, allowing Aaron and his brothers to fly most anywhere in the world. It was inevitable that the experiences of cultural identity and architecture in England, Thailand, and Hong Kong would influence what he pursued in college.
A master's degree graduate from the Northeastern University School of Architecture, Aaron used his familiarity with airplane design in a “future use” capstone project, aimed at lightweight, integrated building systems and maximum layout flexibility. His team’s design was exhibited at a national collegiate conference, and published with other student work on “future use.” His interest in architectural expression lead him to focus his thesis on a master plan and deep-energy retrofit strategy for the Bunker Hill housing project in Boston – knitting the neighborhood back together and articulating the character of a disenfranchised community through architecture.
Aaron joined Centerbrook in 2013 and has since been involved in a wide range of work, including the UConn Medical & Dental School, Florence Griswold Museum, Saint Ann’s Parish, and multiple projects at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory including a Center for Therapeutics Research, DNA Learning Center, and campus master plan.
- Awarded the 2017 AIA Connecticut Emerging Architect Award
- Assistant Professor of Architectural Studies at Connecticut College
- Serves on the Board of Directors of New London Landmarks
- Selected for the 2013 NCARB Intern Think Tank
- AIA Committee on Design Knowledge Scholar
- Apprenticed at Kyu Sung Woo Architects in Cambridge and Elkus Manfredi Architects in Boston
A native of Venezuela, Patricia came to the United States to broaden her architecture skills. Fortunately, she found Centerbrook right in her new backyard.
When asked if she has an interest in a particular type of project, Patricia explains that she doesn’t want to limit her exposure or specialize. That’s why she believes Centerbrook is a great fit.
“I like many things in my profession, so that is what I like about Centerbrook. We design many types of buildings. I like the diversity of Centerbrook’s work, and I think it is a good match with my past experience.”
Patricia (whose last name is pronounced Co-jess-os Val-des) grew up the daughter of a geologist and a lab technician in Caracas, Venezuela. She planned to study medicine in college, but faced a one-year wait to start the program. Being curious and driven, Patricia instead spent that year studying architecture despite no previous ties to the field. The program immediately inspired her, and a path was set.
“I got involved in architecture, and I loved it from the first day, so I stayed with it.”
Patricia earned an architecture degree from Central University of Venezuela, in Caracas. She became a licensed architect after 6 years of entire architectural studies, she has 10 years of work experiences with several positions in her native country before leaving for the U.S. One was with Levi Strauss & Co., where she served as a brand coordinator on architectural projects for more than 60 stores across Venezuela. Looking back, she relishes the experience of learning about retail design.
Patricia rose to a management position at her last Venezuelan firm where she led the design of a four-star hotel and a healthcare clinic while overseeing the architecture department.
In 2016 Patricia relocated to the U.S. to take her career to the next level. From the outset she had a goal of mastering English as a second language. Since arriving, she has participated in four different language programs.
Patricia freelanced for a time from her Clinton, Connecticut home, and joined Centerbrook in late 2018.
Away from the office, Patricia hopes to travel in the U.S. and explore many of its beautiful landscapes. Her creative spirit has also led to crafting hand soaps in her spare time. Self-taught, Patricia’s soap designs are colorful and textural. She’s enjoyed not only learning about the manufacturing, but also about the entrepreneurial side of the business. Her operation has already grown from a small table to half of her basement, and she aspires to offer her creations in coastal boutiques as well as online.
When that goal is accomplished, Patricia will no doubt be ready for a new challenge. She admits to having a number of ideas already in mind, but for now she’s completely focused on the tasks at hand. Both at Centerbrook and at home.
“I’m very passionate, and when I do something, I like to be 100-percent into it.”
Andrew’s choice of architecture for a profession wasn’t influenced by any one person, or even by an appreciation for buildings themselves, but by the impact that responsible design could have.
“Architecture was self-inspired through being outdoors a lot, and fostering a sense of environmental stewardship,” Andrew said. “I did a lot of work with the Appalachian Mountain Club with the volunteer trail crews, and I realized that architecture could be a means toward making a difference.”
With a burgeoning interest in design as a teen, Andrew took it upon himself to learn more. He started attending architecture lectures in the Boston area during high school. He recalls seeing Thom Mayne at MIT after he won the Pritzker Architecture Prize. It was around this time that he received a fortuitous opportunity – a friend who had a summer internship lined up at a local architecture firm, realized how interested Andrew was in design, and passed on her spot to him instead.
Andrew eventually chose to attend Northeastern University. While pursuing both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture, Andrew was able to study abroad in Germany for a semester, and worked for two different local firms as part of Northeastern’s co-op program. He joined Centerbrook upon completion of the M.Arch program in 2018.
Growing up in Andover, Massachusetts, Andrew got involved in community outreach and events early and often. In addition to his involvement with the Appalachian Mountain Club, he was an Eagle Scout. He later volunteered a summer with Habitat for Humanity. Andrew also served a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Portugal in between his undergraduate and graduate studies at Northeastern.
Likewise, Andrew intends to be immersed in the Centerbrook culture by helping out with continuing education programming and recreational activities. In his pursuit of licensure, Andrew also plans to bring additional qualifications to the firm by seeking a sustainability certification.
Andrew was a competitive rower while in school, including two years as a varsity athlete at Northeastern, and was excited to join a rowing club in nearby Old Lyme, Connecticut. In addition to rowing, he enjoys all types of watersports and is an avid hiker.
When she was young, Katie used to tag along with her mother – a landscape architect – to the studio from time-to-time. Though she may not have realized it, playing around with her mother’s drafting tools sparked an enduring interest in design.
At age eight, the signs became clearer. After she requested to trade her bedroom for the guest room and was denied, Katie taught herself AutoCAD and designed a furniture layout. Even though her enhanced pitch was still turned down, it foreshadowed things to come.
Although she did not intend to stray far away from her Deep River, Connecticut, home for college, Katie visited a friend at High Point University and fell in love with the campus. By the time she arrived at the North Carolina institution, Katie was fairly honed in on interior design as a focus, and after starting the program she knew it was the right decision.
Her time at High Point afforded Katie two beneficial experiences. First, she was able to intern with two vendors during the High Point Market, billed as the largest furnishings industry trade show in the world. Second, the design software Revit was part of the school’s interior design curriculum.
It was Katie’s Revit experience that provided an opportunity at Centerbrook, which utilizes the program across the board. Because of that proficiency, Katie hit the ground running when she joined the firm, and has contributed to furniture and fixture layouts for prominent projects Centerbrook has in design.
Away from the office, Katie enjoys boating. As she describes it, she grew up on the Connecticut River. And although youth pursuits like snow skiing, volleyball and lacrosse have passed, her participation in the family’s waterborne tradition has endured.
Katie is also quite close with a yellow lab named Maggie, who’s been a member of the family since she was a newborn pup.
Sue’s architectural odyssey involved myriad detours: high school in England; secretarial school in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey (not her idea); advanced calculus – which she was good at but ultimately wondered what the point was. Then the professor of a course in 3D design encouraged Sue to apply to the Rhode Island School of Design, and a tour of the campus convinced her that design would be more fun than math. She went on to earn fine arts and architecture degrees from RISD, finishing the five-year program in three.
After working for a Cambridge architect, she joined Centerbrook in 1983 and has amassed a substantial portfolio on design teams for academic clients, among them multiple projects on the campuses of Yale University, Dartmouth College, Pomfret School, and Bard College. Her expertise runs the gamut: master planning, performing arts, laboratories, athletic facilities, offices, classrooms, museums, and libraries. Buildings on which she has served as project manager have won dozens of national and regional awards and also have been published by House & Garden, Chronicle of Higher Education, Builder Magazine, and others. She was named senior director in 2014.
“I like the diversity of the work here,” she says. “I enjoy working on bigger and complex buildings. The most important thing is to make a difference for the people who use the buildings that we design – so that whatever they do is better and more fun because of the place they are doing it in. That’s the whole point.”
Out of office experiences include competitive sailing, both the spring Frostbite races and the summer Spinnaker Series, which she has won. She also is a member of the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society and has attended its annual shindig in Nashville that attracts pickers from around the world.
- Centerbrook Travel Grant recipient: Scotland and Venice
- Once bought Chet Atkins a drink
- Plays bass guitar in the band Moving Target
- Owns a guitar shop with her husband
We are the recipients of the Firm Award from the National AIA and have received more than 400 design awards. These include 5 National Honor Awards and 80 Design Awards from the architect-rich chapter of the Connecticut AIA, more than any other firm.
The Architectural Story of Quinnipiac University
Our latest publication charts the story of an unprecedented 40-year collaboration Quinnipiac University. Authored by Principal Jefferson B. Riley, who has led all of our design work for Quinnipiac through the decades, the book documents both the expansion of university and the evolution of its planning and construction to meet evolving policies and academic offerings. Riley pairs a detailed and thought-provoking narrative with richly illustrated pages to provide a comprehensive account of the progressive work. Images Publishing Group released the book in 2018.
Our fourth book showcases key projects from principals Jefferson B. Riley, Chad Floyd, Mark Simon and Jim Childress as well as works from many of our staff architects. The compilation features innovative and award-winning projects from across North America, including residential homes, community villages, hotels, schools and universities, museums, corporate centers and laboratories, and athletic facilities. The book was published in 2017 by Images Publishing Group.
The Enthusiasms of Centerbrook
Principals Bill Grover, Jefferson B. Riley, Mark Simon, Chad Floyd, and Jim Childress co-authored this book, which explores the personal interests, motivating influences, and enthusiasms that found their way into our work at the time. Enthusiasms encompasses Fourth of July parades, villages, scene design, pick-up games, televised design workshops, hardware store technology, jazz, mongrels, and more. The book was published by Images Publishing Group in 2001.
Centerbook: Volume 2
Architecture critic Andrea Oppenheimer Dean authored our second book, which featured more recent projects and a broader geographical reach. Included among the forty featured projects are homes, schools, laboratories, museums, industrial plans, colleges, and universities. A chapter is also dedicated to our furniture, fixture and fountain designs. It was published in 1997 by the AIA Press and Rockport Publishers.
Centerbook: Reinventing American Architecture
Written by architecture critic Michael J. Crosbie, this book describes the origins of our firm and the unique interaction of our principal architects. It illustrates our early work through more than 50 featured projects and explores the impact of our location in the small town of Centerbrook, Connecticut. It was published by the AIA Press and Rockport Publishers in 1993.