Thursday, February 29, 2024

Elizabeth Mills Brown Awardees


The Elizabeth Mills Brown Award recognizes design excellence in the restoration, rehabilitation, adaptation, and reuse of historic structures.  The award is named after and honors the work of Betty Brown, a prominent Connecticut architectural historian, preservationist, and civic leader, and author of the extraordinarily comprehensive and meticulously researched New Haven: A Guide to Architecture and Urban Design (Yale University Press, 1976). This award is presented in conjunction with Preservation Connecticut .

2023 Elizabeth Mills Brown Jury

David Drasba, LEED AP, AIA
Project Architect & Project Manager
Scully Architects

Rick Farrar
Senior Vice President, Store Development
Ralph Lauren Architecture + Design Studio

Jennifer Goodman
Executive Director
New Hampshire Preservation Alliance

Martin Luther King Jr. Campus | JCJ Architecture
Photography: Robert Benson Photography

The 2020 renovation and expansion of Hartford’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Campus rehabilitated a significant landmark in Hartford’s north end.

Opened in 1923 as Weaver High School, the Collegiate Gothic building was designed by Boston Architect Frank Irving Cooper. In 1974 a new Weaver High School was built, and the building was renovated to accommodate a new age cohort.

Although not on the historic register, MLK contributes to a historic district and was subject to SHPO. With the assistance of Connecticut’s school construction funding and oversight agency, the project was permitted to replicate or emulate original details.

Additions and adaptations for the building reintroduce the Architect’s original intent of “a harmonious balance between structural design and interior components,” by repairing and reinstating features that had been covered or damaged. 1970s windows were replaced; over unique 30 stained glass windows were repaired and refurbished. Plaster features in the auditorium ceiling and columns were stabilized, repaired or replicated when required. Delicately matched color glazing was applied in place of paint to blend original, repaired and new surfaces. The building had significant structural challenges due to a lack of maintenance and water infiltration. The project extensively addressed the integrity of the structure, working to make interventions seamless and invisible to the public. The school’s extension was designed to be sympathetic in material, scale and proportion to the original.

Jury comments: Highly commendable transformative rehabilitation. The care and attention to detail creates a powerful, gratifying impact and fine reclaimed spaces for new use.


Tudor Home | Saniee Architects LLC
Photography: David Sundberg/ESTO

This is a rehabilitation of a Tudor house designed in the late 19th century by Henry C. Pelton, known for the Riverside Church and the Cloisters, in Manhattan. Several adjacent structures have been converted to commercial use over the years. We wanted to maintain its original residential use. Also, many such historic houses have been demolished in Greenwich due to the belief that they cannot be repurposed for the high-end residential market. We set out to disprove that idea and maintain rigorous preservation guidelines in the process.

On the interior, we restored the original finish of the woodwork of the entry hall, the staircase, the landing, railing, and paneling. We added insulation in the entire attic and any exterior wall where accessible without altering original features. A new HVAC system was installed without interference with the original walls and finishes.

The roof asphalt was replaced with new cedar shingle. The rotting fenestration was replaced with new insulate glass equivalent with profiles that were within 4 mm of the original; leaded glass was replaced with new matching the original pattern. The original brick and stonework only needed minor repointing. The siding was repaired and replaced in limited areas with matching shingles. All exterior trim work was checked and damaged areas replaced with matching materials and profiles.

Jury comments: Beautiful restoration of the exterior finishes and the interior oak, done with skill and sensitivity to the site and original house.

Bristol Arts and Innovation Magnet School | QA+M Architecture
Photography: Samara Media

When the City of Bristol envisioned an innovative intra-district magnet school, they chose the former 1923 Memorial Boulevard School. This beautiful building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, had once exemplified the latest in modern high school design. In 2012, the building was vacated due to the need for repairs and school redistricting efforts around the City. This beautifully restored 113,000SF building includes contemporary art studios, two sound studios, a restored historic 840-seat theater and a black box “studio theater”, both with entirely new lighting, rigging, audio, and acoustical systems. A new formal lobby with a ticket booth and concessions area was added as a community resource for professional shows. The “Rockwell Theater”, named for Bristol philanthropist Albert Rockwell, is designed to train students for performance and technical production at a professional level, providing the City with one of the larger performing arts seating venues in Connecticut.

Jury comments: Inspiring revival of vacant and deteriorating community landmark that showcases environmental sustainability with re-use, repair and stewardship strategies plus other "green" design decisions.

Christ Church Cathedral | Duo Dickinson architect
Photography: Mark Adams

In 1827, Ithiel Town designed Christ Church in downtown Hartford. Rather than hide accessibility of all kinds this project celebrates it, while preserving history. The renovations have created a space for the Cathedral to embody its vocation as a resource for all people across the State of Connecticut. The flexibility of the space serves a diverse constituency, from the arts to civic discourse, to community engagement activities for those who are housing and food insecure. This project has given the Cathedral a remarkable opportunity to model active and adaptive ministry in the public square around issues of social justice, advocacy, and cultural advancement for underserved communities. The Cathedral is partnered with groups across the Greater Hartford Area to help to bring the community together.

Jury comments: Important interior improvements for significant landmark property. Commend the intention and effort to make the building accessible and useful to a broader representation of the community.

for a Sympathetic Addition

Tudor Revival | Haver & Skolnick Architects
Photography: Robert Benson Photography

In 1931, Connecticut Architect Walter P. Crabtree, Jr. was commissioned to create a picturesque Tudor Revival manor within a neighborhood of distinguished period homes. Ninety years later, the current owners sought to honor Crabtree’s original vision by removing a 1970’s flat-roofed Family Room addition and replacing it with a wing worthy of the home. The architects followed the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards by removing the unsympathetic later addition and a maze of later surface-mounted electrical conduits, flood lighting and mechanical equipment, restoring the integrity of the original design. In rehabilitating and expanding the structure, the goal was to closely follow the design motifs, details and building techniques of the original, both inside and out. Mechanical upgrades throughout the house were designed to be invisible.

Jury comments: Impressive and seamless integration of the building addition to the original through massing, scale and match of materials, and high quality execution.

Past Elizabeth Mills Brown Award Recipients