Category Archives: Video

A Building’s First Birthday

Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School

It seems like such a cliché to say “how time flies” or to talk about how fast the kids grow up, but we’ve all done it and it rings true. Birthdays come and go, but the early ones are often the most exciting and celebratory. It is no exception with buildings: I can hardly believe that just one year ago McDonnell Hall and Brauer Hall opened their doors to the students and faculty of Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School.

Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School

MICDS’ aspirations were inspired and noble – construct a sustainable environment to support a highly innovative curriculum that will enable students to create, problem solve, experiment, and succeed. The MICDS leadership of Lisa Lyle, Head of School, and Becky Young, Chief Financial Officer, assembled an amazing team and led a process to make this project a success.

But success can really only be measured once the building comes alive with inhabitants. Will the spaces stimulate and improve the leaders of tomorrow’s lives? This MICDS video offers some clues.

Jim Childress and I were privileged and honored to work on this project with so many wonderful people in St. Louis: designers, engineers, craftsman, and of course the MICDS community; so on behalf of our team, I wish McDonnell Hall and Brauer Hall a Happy Birthday!

Project team

Centerbrook Architects and Planners, LLP – Architect
Northstar Management Co, LLC – Owner’s Representative
BSI Constructors, Inc. – Construction Manager
Bryant Dieso, LLC – Green Building and LEED Consultant
Civil Engineering Design Consultants – Civil Engineer
Alper Audi, Inc. – Structural Engineer
William Tao and Associates, Inc. – MEPFP Engineer
SWT Design – Landscape Architect
Cavanaugh Tocci Associates – Architectural Acoustics
Kalin Associates – Architectural Specifications
CI Select – Interior Furnishings
Heitman Associates – Building Envelope Consultants
PR Sherman – Code Consultant

Exhibiting Mystic Seaport at its Best

Centerbrook has designed Mystic Seaport’s new Thompson Exhibition Building, a 14,000-square-foot contemporary structure that is now under construction. A video produced by the Seaport explores the planning and design process and what the new building will mean to the future of the museum. In the video Centerbrook partner Chad Floyd discusses the inspiration for the design as well as its functional elements. The Seaport had charged Centerbrook with creating a building that would “stand out, but fit in” and “express the identity of Mystic Seaport and inspire the visitor.”

Read more about the McGraw Gallery Quadrangle Project at

Watson and Grover Pack the House

It was standing room only as Nobel Laureate Dr. James Watson and award winning architect William Grover, FAIA, explored their 36-year collaboration developing and improving the renowned research campus of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island. The pair’s presentation, part of the Essex Library’s Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series, drew some 200 people to the Essex Meadows Auditorium last month.

As with any solid long term relationship, there were moments of tension through the years. “Bill, I never wanted to fire you,” Dr. Watson averred somewhat backhandedly to Centerbrook’s Partner Emeritus. “That’s not my recollection, Jim,” Mr. Grover replied, smiling. Most often, however, the pair concurred on what represented good architecture that was conducive to scientific inquiry into the causes of cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and other illnesses.

The campus they worked to create over four decades is the antithesis of a large, boxy, factory laboratory setting bristling with characterless buildings, macadam, and white-coated drones. It is a Village for Science, with intimate spaces indoors and out so researchers can bump into one another, conspire, perambulate, gossip, bird-watch, or meditate. One might mistake Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for a small, private day school or, as The New York Times reviewer saw it, a miniature Bavarian hilltop village.

Dr. Watson told the 200 people in attendance how he felt about the place where he has lived and worked since 1968, “I often think how lucky I am to be there.”

The Model of Loveliness (video)

In the clip above, Master Model Maker Patrick McCauley explains his process for planking the deck of Aphrodite.

Long and sleek, well accessorized, and built for speed, she is the center of attention wherever she goes. Her torpedo stern allows her to maintain a horizontal posture in the water even at speeds of 40 knots. She draws a dainty four feet.

The Aphrodite, a 74-foot, twin-engine waterborne missile, was christened in 1937 by financier John Hay “Jock” Whitney to commute from Long Island to Wall Street faster than his brother-in-law could make the trip. He boarded Aphrodite in his pajamas and 45 minutes later disembarked in lower Manhattan showered, shaved, and dressed to the nines.

Whitney’s nautical (and nice) guests included the likes of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, Shirley Temple, and Tallulah Bankhead. After Pearl Harbor, he loaned his yacht to the U.S. Coast Guard, which used the lovely lady to ferry President Franklin D. Roosevelt up the Hudson River to Hyde Park.

Aphrodite at the Ocean House. Photo: Derek Hayn

Continue reading The Model of Loveliness (video)

The Wilds of Centerbrook (video)

I have been told not to write about cats and I have not. No one said anything about raccoons. A family of these masked mammals introduced themselves to Centerbrook recently. The little bandits apparently are living beneath our offices, rent free, and the entire entourage padded out into a small enclosed courtyard from which a large wisteria vine begins its ascent to a green roof.

The ragamuffins – actually a group of raccoons is officially known as a “nursery” or a “gaze” – were on the other side of a sliding glass door and were completely unimpressed with the gaggle of architectural staffers who were staring at them and making snarky comments barely a foot away. One climbed the wisteria with leisurely distain.

Don’t take my word for it: click on the video. Human commentary has been expurgated on the advice of our lawyers.

Spamalot – Garde Arts Center Projection

New London’s Garde Art Center, which screens films and hosts a Broadway Series of shows such as “The Wizard of Oz,” served as a screen itself as visual effects company Killer Minnow projected an animated promotion for the play “Spamalot” against the building’s southern façade.  It was jolly good – click and see for yourself.

A previous blog post on Killer Minnow’s website shows what’s going on behind the curtain.
Centerbrook designed the restoration of the Garde in 1999.

Herons Captured by “Dam Cam”

Not to be upstaged by our resident American Egret, two new visitors have been hanging around this summer by our fishing hole.  These two elegant wading birds – a mother and an immature Black-crowned Night Heron – are shown below perched in trees overlooking the Centerbrook dam.  The photo above is the young one atop the dam.  This species, along with other herons, Canada Geese, Kingfishers etc., ply the Falls River at various times of the year.  In the clip below, you will see the mother staring pointedly at her offspring, probably because it is too close to an architect.  Then she will usher her young one up river in dramatic fashion.