Lever design collaboration

ASSA ABLOY and Centerbrook Architects collaborate on award-winning custom lever, rose and pull for the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History

Founded in Chicago in 1950 by Eero Saarinen and Charles and Ray Eames, GOOD DESIGN remains the oldest and most recognized program for Design Excellence, worldwide.

good design awardThis year, The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design received a record number of submissions from the world’s leading manufacturers and industrial and graphic designers. The custom door lever, rose and pull designed by the Centerbrook/ASSA ABLOY team for the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, were among those submissions.

In November/December of 2021, the 71st GOOD DESIGN jury convened to select product designs and graphics worthy of the GOOD DESIGN Award for Design Excellence. The custom door lever, rose and pull designed by the Centerbrook/ASSA ABLOY team for the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, received a GOOD DESIGN AWARD. All awards are posted on the Museum’s website at gooddesign.org.

Here’s the backstory:

Designed by Charles Z. Kaulder in 1917, the Peabody Museum of Natural History is a three-story, French Gothic brick and dark brown sandstone building on Yale University’s campus. One of the oldest, most important scientific institutions in the nation, the Peabody is Yale’s primary conduit for sharing scientific knowledge with more than 130,000 visitors, annually.

custom hardwareBased on more than 10 years of Master Planning, Centerbrook Architects & Planners designed comprehensive renovations and additions  –  the first since the Peabody opened in 1925  –  that will transform the institution and support scientific advancement into the next century. Construction started in 2020 for 172,355 SF of improvements that include a 57,631 SF, four-story infill addition between the Museum and the Environmental Science Center. 

Inside the Museum, large fossils will be remounted in dynamic poses, and anthropological exhibits will increase with a new floor of galleries. On the lower floor, collections will be improved with state-of-the-art climactic control, research/restoration labs, and secure storage systems. New classrooms and labs will support the institution’s mission to engage students.

Seeking inspiration from the particular rather than the universal, Centerbrook uses specific details of program, site, surroundings, and cultural history in order to deliver a compelling sense of place. Such is the case with the custom door hardware design collaboration between Centerbrook and ASSA ABLOY, led by Mark Simon, FAIA, principal, Centerbrook.

mark simon, centerbrook architects“Osteo-Architecture” may best describe the inspiration that informed the designs for the coordinating Door Lever, Rosette and Door Pull that will trim the Museum’s door openings. Organic in form, reflective of the collections housed in the Museum, the Door Levers are cast in brass, weighty, and have a sculptural quality that conforms perfectly to the palm of the hand. On the Lever handle, a subtle “thumbprint” detail – repeated on the shank on the Lever – enhances engagement with the grip. The Lever will be used to trim Sargent Manufacturing mechanical locking, access control and exit devices throughout the Museum.  

The Door Pull, manufactured by Rockwood in stainless steel and cast brass, and designed to complement the Door Lever, has an elliptical grip presented to the user at a slight offset/angle. The cast ends of the Pull incorporate the “thumbprint” detail on the Lever handle, enhancing the consistency of the door hardware throughout the space. All the door hardware will have a custom dark bronze finish, specified by Centerbrook to match aluminum storefront and interior framing systems.   

The Museum will re-open to the public in 2024. 

Mark Simon, FAIA,
Principal Centerbrook Architects     


Centerbrook/ASSA ABLOY collaboration custom door lever, rose and
pull project/production design team credits

Design Team Leader:
Mark Simon, FAIA, Principal, Centerbrook Architects & Planners, LLP


For Centerbrook Architects & Planners, LLP:
Mark Simon
Sheryl Milardo
Andrew Santaniello
David O’Connor
Justin Hedde
David Petersen
Erik Lubeck
Rob Diaz


Sandra Matheny
Erin Spadavecchia
Scott Kasper
Joseph Martone
Scott Sather