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The Thompson Exhibition Building at Mystic Seaport Museum has garnered its designer, Centerbrook Architects, a fourth national award. Photo courtesy of Centerbrook Architects

The Thompson Exhibition Building at Mystic Seaport Museum has garnered its designer, Centerbrook Architects, a fourth national award. (Photo courtesy of Centerbrook Architects )

Centerbrook Architects Win National Award

Published March 20, 2019

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Centerbrook Architects was the recent recipient of an award by WoodWorks–Wood Products Council for the Thompson Exhibition Building at Mystic Seaport Museum. This award recognizes Centerbrook Architects for building one of the nine most outstanding wood-centric buildings in the country.

“There is a lot of emphasis on the use of forestry resources in the Pacific Northwest for building, so to have a building recognized for this award in Connecticut is very exciting,” said Chad Floyd, principal of Centerbrook Architects.

Floyd led the Thompson Exhibition Building project, along with Senior Director Charles Mueller, structural engineer Jim DeStefano, mechanical engineer Kohler Ronan, and other key contributors including Dave Peterson and Aaron Emma of Centerbrook Architects.

Floyd added, “We are honored and tremendously proud to have been chosen for this award. This is a beautiful building that we put a lot of time and effort into designing and engineering, being aware that we had been tasked with making sure the building stood out, while fitting in at the seaport.”

Floyd describes the building in literary terms.

“It takes people on a discerning journey, and its meant to. It’s like a poem; it can be enjoyed for its initial appeal, but if you scratch the surface a bit, it goes deeper, delving into the connection with the sea and the waves as well as the historic ships and the artistry of that building process. We intended the building to be appealing on many different levels and I think it is,” Floyd said.

The building was recognized in the Commercial Wood Design—Low-Rise category, one of nine national awards bestowed by WoodWorks.

“One thing that is very interesting about this award is that it recognizes projects that use the natural capabilities of wood in interesting, new, beautiful ways that celebrate elegant architecture using wood to its full potential,” Floyd said.

The Thompson Building’s wood includes Douglas fir, western red cedar for the exterior, and mahogany for the decking.

This is the fourth recognition for the Thompson Exhibition Building since it opened to the public in fall 2016. With its 5,000-square-foot climate-controlled exhibition gallery, the design previously garnered the Honor Award-With Distinction by the AIA QUAD Awards and was named by the Connecticut CREW Blue Ribbon Awards as the Best Specialty Project. In 2018, the architecture website ArchDaily named the Thompson Exhibition Building one of the 100 Best Wood Architecture Projects in the United States.

The Centerbrook Architects team chose wood as the predominant building material for this specialized project because of its form, function, and aesthetic capabilities, not only as a way to respect the ideals of the nature of the seaport and capture the marine metaphor but also, Floyd explained, to use wood’s capability to be an extremely strong structure, while at the same being very expressive.

Employing a processed called “glued laminated structure,” which is essentially using very thin layers of wood glued together for strength, the team created the massive arched beams that hold up the structure’s roof, producing the building’s iconic wave-like curvature.

“We are extremely proud of this award and this building,” said Floyd. “We collaboratively put a lot of time and effort into the careful design of this project and I think it really shows in the finished project which is being enjoyed by so many people.”

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