"Pro Bono" Book Includes Centerbrook

Published on March 24th, 2011

The recently published book “The Power of Pro Bono: 40 Stories about Design for the Public Good by Architects and their Clients” profiles The Green Street Arts Center in Middletown, a community project which Centerbrook designed. Partner Mark Simon, FAIA, and Project Manager Russell Learned, AIA, led a Centerbrook team that donated much of its time to help turn an unused Victorian-style school building into a neighborhood cultural hub.

Opened in 2008, the Center was the result of a partnership between Wesleyan University, the City of Middletown, and the North End Action Team – a resident-led advocacy group – to create an anchor for revitalization efforts in the north end of the city.

The redesigned building includes art and dance studios, music rooms, a café lobby, after-school study areas, and even a recording studio where students or adults can perform their own music. It is now being used by students, adults, local artists, and community organizations.

In the book, Simon described the project as challenging because of an extremely tight construction budget and the challenging condition of the existing building, but added that the final result was well worth the efforts of everyone involved. “It was our interaction with the people who use the spaces that was the most rewarding element,” he said. “This project was a stone soup; it started with very little but became a substantial and lively place through the donations of many.”

The book is edited by John Cary and Public Architecture and published by Metropolis Books. It profiled examples of pro bono design projects throughout the United States.