Chapel Hill-based firm Arielle Condoret Schechter is known for its commitment to building sustainable homes that don’t sacrifice elegance or comfort. The company’s latest work includes the spacious Haw River House, which was built with several efficient features to create a net-zero energy home that is seamlessly linked with its natural surroundings.
Tucked into a pristine woodland overlooking the Haw River, which runs through central North Carolina, the beautiful Haw River House sits in harmony with the landscape. Using this natural setting as inspiration, the 2,600-square-foot house is outfitted with several energy-efficient features that make it completely energy-neutral. READ MORE
For a new home on the Haw River in North Carolina’s Chatham County, architect Arielle Schechter found her inspiration in two places.
One was the river. The other was a rock.
“Walking down by the riverbank, there were so many trees cantilevered and bent out over the river, that I said: ‘I want this house to bend out over the river too,’” she says.
She placed the home on the only available buildable knoll since the 21-acre site slopes steeply down to a flood plain and riparian buffer below.
As for the rock, it actually was a huge granite boulder, split down the center. “It’s super-sculptural with a thin knife-blade through the middle where rainwater flows,” she says. “The idea of bisecting something appealed to me, so I did that with the butterfly roof.”
Anne and Bruce, the clients for this project, had recently relocated to Chapel Hill from Florida. They considered themselves “climate refugees” who no longer wanted to live through the yearly hurricanes they were experiencing in Florida. They selected Arielle Schechter for her modernist style, then agree to ramp up the design “Net-Zero Ready” in accordance with her commitment to sustainability.
They told Schechter they dreamed of a modest, yet decidedly modern, environmentally sustainable, age-in-place home in a natural, wooded setting. They found the perfect building site in a beech tree forest in Chapel Hill. READ MORE
Fans of this Chapel Hill architect’s work were pleased to learn that her most recently completed house — this one in Chapel Hill’s Beech Forest — will be featured on the fall “Modapalooza” Tour of modernist houses in the Triangle.
Sponsored by the non-profit organization North Carolina Modernist Houses, this fall’s “Modapalooza” will be held on Saturday, October 12, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will offer nine private homes for touring, including Schechter’s Mason-Grabell House on Mill Valley Road.
Schechter designed the 2465-square-foot house for Anne Mason and Bruce Grabell who moved to Chapel Hill from Florida. They wanted a modest and modern, environmentally sustainable, age-in-place home in a natural setting. They found the perfect property in Beech Forest.
Working with green home builder Kevin Murphy of Newphire Building Co. in Chapel Hill, Schechter designed the Mason-Grabell House to be extremely energy efficient now as it awaits a future solar array on the roof, which will take it easily to Net Zero.
Among the high-performance features that Modapalooza tour-goers will see are Schechter’s favorite Passive House-rated windows and doors from Eurostar Fenestration® and the flat roof’s deep overhangs. The latter provide shade for the windows and overhead shelter for the porches and decks – the outdoor living spaces – that are key elements in all of Schechter’s residential work.
To meet the homeowners’ age-in-place goal, Schechter designed the one-story house to be “zero thresholds” from the walkway to the front door and throughout the interior: There are no steps and no tripping hazards, such as thresholds at doorways and shower curbs.
On the front elevation, reminiscent of a cluster of orange Cosmos in a field of wildflowers, the house’s orange front door is a bold element within the horizontal panel siding and cypress accent wall.
On the rear elevation, a large screen porch appears to float out into the landscape. A wrap-around deck connects the porch to an outdoor grilling area.
Inside, an entire wall of the main living space is actually two massive, glass folding doors. While the house’s windows, strategically placed to avoid heat gain, provide visual access to the natural setting, the folding doors literally open the interior to the outdoors overlooking Beech Forest.
Aware that Anne Mason loves to cook, Schechter’s floorplan revolves around the kitchen — the heart of the house, both physically and metaphorically — with all other spaces having easy access to it.
And in the kitchen, as throughout the interior, Schechter custom designed all of the black walnut cabinetry. With its vivid grain and rich color, black walnut is both retro and regal and lent itself beautifully as well to the mid-century-inspired cocktail bar she created for a space beside the fireplace in the dining area.
The fall Modapalooza Tour is sold out, but NCMH founder George Smart encourages anyone interested to get his or her name on the waiting list in case there are cancellations. Click here for details.
Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, is a licensed, registered architect based in Chapel Hill, NC, who specializes in Modernist, energy-efficient buildings with a focus on Passive houses, Net Zero/Net Positive houses, and Micropolis Houses®, the collection of tiny houses she designed. Her residential projects range from 400 to 6000 square feet. She is a lifelong environmentalist and began practicing green design long before it became mainstream. She is also a lifelong animal advocate. She lives in Chapel Hill with her husband, Arnie, and an assortment of foster animals in the Modern, sustainable house she designed for them. For more information: www.acsarchitect.com.
When Cheryl and Ken Serdar saw one of the homes belonging to Micropolis®, a collection of sustainable and contemporary house plans designed by architect Arielle Condoret Schechter, they knew they wanted a custom home based on the original 950-square-foot “Happy Family” plan. Taking into account the couple’s needs for extra space, Schechter designed a 2,222-square-foot dwelling that also offered all of the sustainable and modern design features defined in her Micropolis® line. Located in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, the custom net-zero home is the most energy-efficient residence that the architect has designed to date. READ MORE…
MASON-GRABELL MODERNISM (All renderings by Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA)
May 1, 2018 (Chapel Hill, NC) — A family of transplants from hurricane-prone Florida can’t wait for construction to begin this summer on their spacious, modern house perched on a hillside in Orange County. Cheryl and Ken Serdar are showing off their new, modern, Net Zero, Micropolis® house in Hillsborough, NC, during the 2018 Green Home Tour. And a husband and wife in Chatham County are anxious to “break free” of the “soul-deadening” confines of a cookie-cutter residential development, so they’re counting the days until they can move into their new, modern, Net Zero house also nearing completion in Chatham County.
Construction is scheduled to begin this summer on the spacious Mason-Grabell house. The family grew tired of fighting hurricanes down in Florida so they relocated to Chapel Hill, NC, where hurricanes are extremely rare.
Rising from a hillside with large expanses of glass on all sides, the Mason-Grabel house features flat, cascading roofs that crown specific interior spaces. Designed to touch the ground lightly and protect the site’s natural hydrology, “Mason-Grabell Modernism” will be one of very few modernist houses in its neighborhood.
Net Zero on Tour
“HAPPY FAMILY” (photo by Iman Woods)
Schechter always stresses that a smaller house allows homeowners to invest their money in elements other than square footage. In the Serdars’ house (above), that other element is a luxurious, spa-like bathroom with a curb-less walk-in shower for two, a custom cast-concrete trough sink, and a vanity area where top-quality tile rises up the high walls to the ceiling.
Otherwise, the Serdars’ relatively small house is deceptive. It appears to be a simple modern house with large, honey-hued wood soffits adding warmth and textural contrast to the precast custom concrete exterior walls. But this is a Net Zero passive house. And the design skills, technological and materials knowledge, and attention to details necessary to create such a high-performance house are anything but “simple.”
*Schechter welcomes the challenge, however, as she continues to add to her growing portfolio of certified Net Zero and Net Positive, Passive residential designs with what she’s dubbed the “Happy Family” house.
“They consider themselves ‘escapees’ from a rigid, traditional development to a lot in the woods,” Schechter said, referring to her clients who are moving out of a traditional development and into this secluded, Net Zero house (above) in the forest in Chatham County. (She noted that “breaking free” and “soul-deadening” are her clients’ words.)
Besides the huge emphasis on privacy, the couple told their architect that they wanted a “modern but simple, unpretentious, age-in-place design.” And they had one specific request. “A sheltered place to sit outside and watch the rain,” Schechter said as she pointed out the house’s deeply cantilevered roof.
Concurrently, Arielle Schechter is working through the schematic design phase for a house for two engineers in Harnett County. She’s also fine-tuning three houses in design development and shepherding two other houses through the construction documentation phase.
For more information on Arielle Condoret Schechter and to see additional examples of her built and on-the-boards work, visit www.acsarchitect.com.
About Arielle Condoret Schechter:
Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, is a licensed, registered architect based in Chapel Hill, NC, who specializes in Modernist, energy-efficient buildings with a focus on PASSIVE, NET ZERO/NET POSITIVE houses, as well as her new tiny house plans, the Micropolis® Houses. She is a lifelong environmentalist and began practicing green design long before it became mainstream. She is also a lifelong animal advocate who lives in Chapel Hill with her husband, Arnie, and an assortment of foster animals in the modern, sustainable house she designed for all of them.
Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, of Chapel Hill, NC, has been voted by Houzz.com as a winner of a Best of Houzz 2018 award, marking the third consecutive year she has received this award from the popular worldwide online community.
From among more than one million active home building, remodeling, and design industry professionals associated with Houzz, Schechter won in the Client Satisfaction category again because “your portfolio includes some of the most consistent reviews on Houzz in 2017,” the Houzz team informed her.
Expressing her gratitude for her clients taking the time to post so many positive reviews on Houzz.com, Schechter explained her thoughts on client services.
“While we’re working together, my clients and I form a type of family,” she said. “I care about them and their worries are my worries. Also, having built my own house, I empathize strongly with their concerns. It’s the most expensive thing they’ll ever own and I am very respectful of that.”
Founded in 2009 in Palo Alto, CA, the Houzz platform features articles, photographs, product recommendations, and a user forum along with professional profiles. The Best of Houzz awards are presented annually in three categories: Design, Customer Service/Client Satisfaction, and Photography. A “Best of Houzz 2018” badge appears on a winner’s Houzz profile to help homeowners identify popular and top-rated professionals in every metro area. For more information, go to www.houzz.com.
Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, is a licensed, registered architect based in Chapel Hill, NC, who specializes in Modernist, energy-efficient buildings with a focus on passive houses, NET ZERO houses, and her new tiny house plans, the Micropolis Houses®. She is a lifelong environmentalist and began practicing green design long before it became mainstream. She is also a lifelong animal advocate who lives in Chapel Hill with her husband, Arnie, and an assortment of foster animals in the Modern, sustainable house she designed for them. For more information: www.acsarchitect.com.
Hi there, welcome! Please, make yourself at home. This is the first post in the blog, and also a very special one.
This is the residence of Arielle Condoret Schechter, architect and designer, a space with great character but serene, filled with natural light and good decisions. With a mid-century modern inclination and a zen outdoor inspiration, she decided to make her home as comfortable as possible, e.g., adding wheels to chairs and tables, allowing the sunlight to find her path in between sofas and shelves and fill every possible inch.
Driven by sustainability, the architect installed solar panels on the roof -approaching almost net zero-, and also built a solar hot water heater and a large compost tiller. Condoret believes that making that kind of decisions, conserving energy, preserving natural resources and reducing costs, ‘That’s the kind of environment that just makes you feel good about life…” READ MORE…
December 11, 2017 (Chapel Hill, NC) — Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, Architect, a full-service architecture firm based in Chapel Hill, NC, has announced three new residential projects, each with remarkably different aspirations.
Big House for a Big Family: Arielle Schechter, principal and founder, describes one of her newest clients as a “big, loving, blended family with kids and more kids on the way.” The family needs a generously sized modern house “for the rest of their lives,” she said, with plenty of space for the family as it is today and as it will be in the future as it expands with spouses and grandchildren.
One response will be a huge playroom to allow for ping pong, pool, and foosball “at any hour of the day or night.” The playroom will connect directly to the house and to the outdoors, allowing access to a future swimming pool. “This house is all about togetherness and family fun,” Schechter noted.
Privacy for Two: A husband and wife anxious to escape what they call a “soul-deadening” cookie-cutter residential development, have hired Schechter to plan and design a very private new home that will let them “just disappear into the woods,” she said. The “woods” she refers to are in Chatham County.
According to the architect, they are a modest couple and want a modern but simple, unpretentious, age-in-place design that let them live out their lives together in peace, away from the restrictions of a housing development.
One of Schechter’s inspirations was her clients’ request for “a sheltered place to sit outside and watch the rain.” In response, she has designed a deeply cantilevered roof where they can sit outside and enjoy the rain without getting wet.
A Doctor in the House: Schechter’s third new project is a modern residence for a doctor who teaches and practices at Duke University, his wife, and their son. The family moved to Durham from New York City. Their primary objective is a family home for three that maintains the parents’ connection to their young son.
One design decision directly related to that concept: a second-floor bridge that “floats” over an open, double-height living room. The bridge connects the master suite to their son’s suite, both of which are on the second floor. The lower level will feature the public spaces – living, dining, kitchen areas — and guest rooms that can double as an office or den.
For more information on Arielle Schechter and to see her built work as well as other “On The Boards” projects, visit www.acsarchitect.com.
About Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA:
Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, is a licensed, registered architect based in Chapel Hill, NC, who specializes in Modernist, energy-efficient buildings with a focus on passive houses, NET ZERO houses, and her new tiny house plans, the Micropolis Houses™. She is a lifelong environmentalist and began practicing green design long before it became mainstream. She is also a lifelong animal advocate who lives in Chapel Hill with her husband, Arnie, and an assortment of foster animals in the Modern, sustainable house she designed for them. For more information: www.acsarchitect.com.
Modernist architect Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, has a host of projects underway these days. Among the residential work taking shape in her home studio and office, high atop Stillhouse Bluff in Chapel Hill, is a Modern Cabin out in rural Orange County, North Carolina.
A couple from San Francisco commissioned Schechter to design their Modern Cabin where one of their sons will live for a few years until they permanently relocate to North Carolina.
The couple asked the architect for a “sort of rustic but more modern cabin” that would become their permanent home as well as a family get-together destination optimized for comfortable visits with their two children.
Unlike stereotypical cabins, Schechter’s design expresses its modernity in materials, space, and architectural vocabulary. Abundant glazing will welcome sunlight and panoramic views of the wooded setting into the house. Under flat rooflines, the open floor plan will provide a natural, unfettered journey through the house and outside onto balconies and porches.
Like any well-designed cabin, traditional or modern, the structure will be efficient and durable. Schechter expects construction to begin this spring.
For more information on the architect and to see her built work as well as other “On The Boards” projects, visit www.acsarchitect.com.
About Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA
Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, is a licensed, registered architect based in Chapel Hill, NC, who specializes in Modernist, energy-efficient buildings with a focus on passive houses, NET ZERO houses, and her new tiny house plans, the Micropolis Houses™. She is a lifelong environmentalist and began practicing green design long before it became mainstream. She is also a lifelong animal advocate who lives in Chapel Hill with her husband, Arnie, and an assortment of foster animals in the modern, sustainable house she designed for them. For more information: www.acsarchitect.com.