What distinguishes Centerbrook’s work is an overarching belief that the details of design and the craft of building are vital to uplifting architecture – that telling and even quite small facets of a project can inspire inhabitants, and even passersby, to view a building with an enduring fondness that transcends practical considerations. Spaces and forms, both inside and out, should engage people, connecting them to one another like a well laid out village, joining them also to neighboring places, built and natural. A proper shelter can serve as a refuge – and, at the same time, a staging ground for forays far afield. A truly sustainable building must command affection, or it won’t survive for long.
This philosophy unites the firm’s otherwise eclectic portfolio, which encompasses academic, civic, residential, commercial, and religious work. In-house designed and fabricated pieces, such as bespoke furniture and lighting fixtures, have contributed to a number of projects.
Founded between oil shortages, in 1975, Centerbrook has always been a proponent of energy efficiency, early on designing passive solar residences, and more recently numerous LEED projects. The firm makes its home in a sturdy brick building, an enduring remnant of the Industrial Revolution that it resurrected and has refashioned over the decades. Centerbrook uses its evolving Connecticut campus as a laboratory for testing building materials and technologies, and it will generate half of its energy needs this year from onsite renewable systems.