Architecture to Cure What Ails You

Published on October 29th, 2010

Nobel Laureate Dr. James D. Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, and William Grover, partner emeritus of Centerbrook Architects, explore “Making a Village for Science,” an overview of their 34-year collaboration at the renowned Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) on Long Island. Their illustrated presentation, part of the third annual Centerbrook Architecture Series presented by the Essex Library, is on Thursday, Nov. 11 at the Essex Meadows Auditorium from 7 to 8 p.m. Admission is free; please call (860) 767-1560 to register.

Although hailing from quite distinct professions, the two men agreed that the process of scientific discovery could be served by compelling architecture that affords places for interaction, quiet contemplation, and leisure – whether bird watching, sailing, or tennis – as well as venues designed for casual sociability and collegiality. Scientists do not succeed by test tubes alone, they reasoned.

In its 120th year and home to seven Nobel Laureates, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s 400-plus scientists conduct research into the fundamentals of genetics with a focus on cancer, neuroscience, genomics and bioinformatics, plant biology and quantitative biology. Their work bears on diseases such as cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Autism.

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

A founding partner of Centerbrook Architects, William Grover worked on 25 building projects at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory from 1973 to 2007, including, most recently, the Watson School of Biological Sciences and the new Hillside Research Campus. His body of work garnered 45 design awards and was widely published, in The New York Times, Architecture Digest, Life Magazine, and elsewhere. Mr. Grover is a graduate of the Yale School of Architecture. An Essex resident, he is on the board of directors and is past president of the Essex Land Trust.

Essex Meadows is at 30 Bokum Road in Essex. Admission is free; please call (860) 767-1560 to register.