The Design

The architects began the process by seeking to evoke the nature of wooden ships like the CHARLES W. MORGAN. The thought that by conveying the structure of frames and planks, they could make a connection to the hull of a ship.

The architects began their work by seeking to evoke the nature of wooden ships like the Charles W. Morgan, shown here during its recent restoration. They thought by conveying the structure of a vessel’s frames and planks, they could make a connection to the hull of a ship. Click on the image to view a slideshow of the design process.

When Mystic Seaport engaged the services of Centerbrook Architects and Planners to design the new Thompson Exhibition Building, the architects were given a challenging mandate: They needed to come up with a design that would “stand out, but fit in.”

Centerbrook, a Connecticut firm with an impressive reputation in the academic and institutional field, set to work to distill the essence of the Museum and turn that into a powerful design that would express the identity of Mystic Seaport and inspire the visitor.

They had several primary goals:

The 14,000 square-foot building houses a 5,000 square-foot exhibition hall, the Collins Gallery, the Pilalas Family Reception Lobby, the Masin Conference Room, a retail shop, visitor amenities, space for exhibition loading, and mechanical rooms.

It was also important  that the building reflect contemporary design to differentiate it from its historic surroundings. As new construction, the structure has to clearly articulate that newness and respect the authenticity of the historic building in other parts of the grounds.

To meet these goals, the architects sought inspiration from the geometry of the sea.

Click on the image at the top of the page for a slideshow that illustrates the design process.