Architectural Series Set to Begin

Published on October 18th, 2013

The Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series begins its sixth season this month with three very distinct presenters – an Alaskan-based architect, an Emmy-winning filmmaker, and a graphic designer/photographer. Design trends from Long Island to Norway are on the menu as well as the role of the architect in society.

These illustrated presentations, which are being held at the Essex Library, are a collaboration with the Essex Library, just one example of the many programs it regularly offers the public. Please call the Essex Library (860) 767-1560 to register for any of the upcoming programs. The talks are free.

October 25: Screening of Architectural Film “Modern Tide”
Emmy-award winning producer and director Jake Gorst screens his latest film, “Modern Tide: Midcentury Architecture on Long Island,” which explores the disappearance of its rich architectural heritage. Long Island’s East End, in particular, was once a testing ground for modernist architecture, a place for experimental residential design practiced by the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright, Philip Johnson, and Marcel Breuer. The gradual destruction of this legacy to make way for lavish “McMansions” is characterized by Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Paul Goldberger as a tragedy.

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

November 15: A Quick and Quirky History (and Future) of Architecture
Architect, artist, and design proselytizer Michael A. Mense, whose office is in Anchorage, Alaska, gives a pithy and engaging history of architecture on Friday, November 15 from 7 to 8 p.m. at Centerbrook Architects. He will describe the changing role of the architect in society and the resulting wariness of the American public. His illustrated talk will touch on his belief that there is a need to redefine both how architecture is practiced and how architects are educated.

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

December 6: Navigating Norway: Fitting in by Standing Out
What kind of architecture do you build along the most scenic roads in the world? Centerbrook graphic designer and photographer Derek Hayn visited Norway to find out. His meandering odyssey from Oslo to the remote and picturesque Lofoten Islands (like trekking from Connecticut to Georgia minus the fjords) involved planes, trains, cars, ferries, buses, and feet. His vivid photographs capture the magnificent mingling of the built and natural environments: both the rugged seemingly surreal scenery, as well as the spare inventiveness of modern Norwegian design, albeit steeped in the traditional material, wood, for which the region’s architecture is famous. Rather than intrude on nature, Norway’s observation buildings, rest stops, and tourist outposts set in the hinterlands, almost without exception, seem to be logical extensions, enhancements even, of the landscape.

A wonderful example is Trollstigen (Troll’s Ladder) by Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter: this glass and concrete structure is perched above a rushing cataract, with mountain peaks behind it. Mr. Hayn doesn’t overlook urban architecture, conveying and commenting on the works of acclaimed Oslo firms such as Snøhetta. Mr. Hayn manages the Centerbrook website and blog, and makes his own posters. His presentation will be on Friday, December 13 from 7 to 8 p.m. at Centerbrook Architects.