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Designer of new chemistry building
wins top architectural award
April 27, 1998

Centerbrook Associates, the Connecticut architectural firm that designed the new chemistry building and is nearing completion of the design of a new home for the School of Business Administration, has won the prestigious American Institute of Architects' Architecture Firm Award.

The annual award will be presented to the firm at the AIA's annual meeting next month in San Francisco. Previous winners of the award include such firms as I.M. Pei & Partners, Cesar Pelli & Associates, Beyer Blinder Bell, and Skidmore Owings and Merrill. It is given to a firm that has consistently produced distinguished architecture for at least 10 years, and is the highest honor the AIA can bestow on a firm.

Centerbrook's designers "consistently create beautiful architecture which responds to local contexts with human scale spaces filled with delight," says Raymond L. Gindroz of UDA Architects, who nominated Centerbrook. "Their buildings and spaces take their imagery from the place in which they are built.

University Architect Larry Schilling agrees.

"I'm very pleased with the design of the chemistry building, and with what they've come up with for the business school," Schilling says. "The chemistry building has the look of a New England mill. It's perfect for that setting, and so is their choice of materials. It's a very large building, but the brick color and other materials they decided to use help to diminish some of the structure's bulk.

The design for the business school, which will be built on Dow Field, also incorporates brick and, says Schilling, it will improve the appearance of Gampel Pavilion and Babbidge Library. "Good architecture always complements the architecture of other buildings and its surroundings," he says.

Designers at Centerbrook, founded in 1975, also were involved in the design of the addition to the heating plant, and they are designing an addition to Storrs Hall, which will replace space lost when the nursing cottage was razed to accommodate the chemistry building.

"We are delighted to be selected for this extraordinary honor," says Mark Simon, a principal in the firm. "What makes this award especially satisfying is that it recognizes the work of everyone in the firm, past and present, and we believe strongly that architecture is a collaborative art."

Richard Veilleux