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.”
When Durham Magazine editors looked around the Triangle to discover how a sampling of residents are making the most of the current COVID-19 quarantine, they called Blueplate PR client pod architecture + design in Chapel Hill to chat with architect Doug Pierson and experiential graphics designer Youn Choi, partners in life as well as the award-winning firm. The magazine posted the full story at durhammag.com/how-we-live-now-in-quarantine/. Below is Doug’s and Youn’s segment (plus the recent family photo by Jeremy Lange for theWall Street Journal).
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Carrboro architects Doug Pierson and Youn Choi of pod architecture + design and their kids, Oscar, 18, and Sora, 15, live in a temporary townhome on Smith Level Road while they wrap up on a custom-built house they designed in Carrboro near South Green. Doug writes:
We are expecting our certificate of occupancy for our new house in a couple weeks, but it has been a challenge to finalize with the pandemic and stay-at-home requirements in place.
So, as we prepare for our eventual move, we are using our property as a “stay-at-home” retreat where we have family outdoor time. Activities include working on the house and site; checking out fish in our stream; walking to the old 1930s community Sparrow Pool ruin in our woods; having a picnic; homework; bike rides and walks.
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.
The editors of Metal Construction News (MCN), the premier national news magazine for the metal construction industry, have tapped North Carolina architect Doug Pierson, AIA, to serve as one of only three judges for their 2019 Building and Roofing Awards.
Pierson and his partner Youn Choi are co-owners and principals of pod architecture + design. Their Chapel Hill-based firm received the highest honor – Grand Winner — in MCN’s 2018 awards program for their design of the 55,000-square-foot Rabbit Hole Distillery in downtown Louisville, Kentucky.
“Because that honor meant so much to us, I was incredibly honored when [Senior Editor] Mark Robins asked me to serve as a judge this year,” said Pierson, who is also a faculty member at NC State University’s College of Design.
Projects have been submitted to the Building and Roofing Awards in five categories: Metal Buildings, Metal Roofs/New, Metal Roofs/Retrofit, Metal Walls/New, and Metal Walls/Retrofit.
Pierson and the other two judges will receive the entries digitally on October 4th. On October 14 they will confer with the MCN staff to determine the best three submissions in each category and the 2019 Grand Winner. The judges may also suggest projects worthy of a “Judges’ Award.”
This is the 33rd year that Metal Construction News has showcased innovation and excellence in the metal construction industry through its awards program.
In a ceremony in Cincinnati, Ohio, last week, Doug Pierson, AIA, and Youn Choi, partners at pod architecture + design (pod a+d) in Chapel Hill, NC, received their second design award for Rabbit Hole Distillery, the metal, glass, and blackened wood structure they designed in downtown Louisville, KY, that the president of the Kentucky Distillers Association called “a modern monument to our historic industry.”
Earlier this year, pod a+d’s distillery design claimed the top “Grand Award” honor in Metal Construction News’ annual awards program.
The Kentucky chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) presented its awards during the AIA Ohio Valley Region’s “Celebrating Design Awards Luncheon” on September 19 at the Hilton Netherlands Plaza in Cincinnati.
The awards jury praised the new distillery as “an exuberant extension of industrial language with playful materiality. There is a legible and contemporary expression of both corporate identity and the process of making at various scales. In this way, the process of production becomes part of the architecture.”
According to Pierson and Choi, the design embraced the strategy “form follows process” as they allowed the building to take shape in direct response to the bourbon production process it houses.
The design also expresses owner Kaveh Zamanian’s vision for “transparency and craft,” another aspect the awards jury appreciated: “The architectural language in section builds up to create programmatic density in some moments and transparency at the atrium.”
The building’s “strong relationship to the street” impressed the jurors as well.
At pod a+d, we believe in the integration of architecture and all aspects of design to connect buildings + environment + identity. That’s why pod a+d is a hybrid firm, offering all architectural services, experiential design, and wayfinding. Exterior and interior architecture; furnishings and finishes; financial feasibility and scheduling; engineering and construction; and environmental graphics – considered simultaneously, these disciplines inform our hybrid/integrated approach to architecture. For more information: www.podand.com.
On August 21, pod architecture + design (pod a+d), the award-winning design firm previously located in Carrboro, moved its multi-disciplinary studio from the historic Depot on that town’s Main Street to offices at 201-A North Columbia Street in Chapel Hill.
The move reflects the partners’ desire to establish their studio in the more nationally known Chapel Hill since many of their projects are located outside North Carolina. Examples include Rabbit Hole Distillery in downtown Louisville, Kentucky; Sixty Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California; and a new distillery in Brooklyn, New York.
Doug Pierson, AIA, and his wife, experiential designer Youn Choi, are the founders, partners, and principal designers at pod a+d. They relocated the firm from Los Angeles to North Carolina a few years ago and have been operating out of the converted 1882 Depot in Carrboro since 2013.
While they’re quick to say they’ve thoroughly enjoyed the historic Depot, something was always nagging at them,..
pod a+d is licensed in five states because the firm’s work frequently takes its team of designers from North Carolina to California and other project sites in between. And more often than not, whenever they’ve told out-of-state clients that their firm is headquartered in Carrboro, the look on their faces has made them add quickly, “…which is right next door to Chapel Hill.” The nods and smiles afterward spoke volumes. Like Duke University in Durham, UNC-Chapel Hill has given the town a national reputation.
“Ultimately, it made sense to us to align our firm with that distinction,” Choi said. So they loaded a moving van at the Depot, drove a few blocks northeast, and unloaded the van at 201A North Columbia Street.
“We’re looking forward to settling into our new studio and enjoying all the opportunities available in Chapel Hill’s downtown district,” Pierson added.
The studio move has taken place just a couple of months before Pierson, Choi, and their two children will move into the new modern house they designed that’s currently under construction in Carrboro.
pod architecture + design (pod a+d) is a full-service, award-winning, non-traditional architecture firm located in the Triangle region of North Carolina and licensed in five states. As a firm, we believe in the integration of architecture and all aspects of design to connect buildings, environment, and identity. That’s why pod a+d is a hybrid firm, offering all architectural services, environmental design, experiential graphics, and wayfinding design. Exterior and interior architecture; furnishings and finishes; financial feasibility and scheduling; engineering and construction; and environmental graphics – considered simultaneously, these disciplines inform our integrated approach to architecture. For more information: www.podand.com.
pod architecture + design, Luckett & Farley present scheme to investors at special event
During a special event held recently in downtown Louisville, KY, pod architecture + design (pod a+d) of Carrboro, NC, and Luckett & Farley architects and engineers of Louisville, presented a surprising concept for a modern, environmentally sustainable, mid-sized distillery to an assemblage of investors.
Designed for the event’s host, J.W. Rutledge Distillery of Middletown, KY, the 69,000-square-foot facility is intended for 140 picturesque acres of gently rolling grassland just outside Louisville. The architectural concept suggests an elegant, two-building composition linked by physical representations of various elements of the distilling process. In form and footprint, the concept engages the landscape and gently steps downward toward Floyd’s Fork, allowing the process of bourbon-making to flow naturally via gravity, from grain delivery all the way to barreling.
The distillery would also be oriented to convert the naturally occurring stillage (the byproduct of bourbon making) into energy via a biomass digester and to capture heating and cooling through a geothermal pond loop.
This innovative solution was designed by Douglas Pierson, AIA, and Youn Choi, pod a+d’s co-founders and Luckett & Farley’s President/CEO Aric Andrew and Vice President/Distilling Marketer Kyle Beasley. pod a+d and Luckett & Farley also worked together recently as architect and engineers, respectively, on the award-winning Rabbit Hole Distillery in downtown Louisville.
With a projected budget of $20-$25 million, Rutledge’s sustainable distillery will produce “World Class Bourbon and Rye whiskeys,” says Jim Rutledge, owner and multi-award-winning Master Distiller, on his website. “We will produce Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey and Straight Rye Whiskey the ‘old-fashioned way’ relative to the requisites, guidelines, and standards for Straight Whiskey production that have been in place for close to two centuries.”
“This one of a kind campus will engage a breathtaking site in a manner that honors an old-fashioned tradition done well while looking toward the future to thrive,” Pierson added.
The Investor Tasting Event took place in the Mint on Mellwood, a renovated industrial building in downtown Louisville. Investors enjoyed specialty bourbon and light refreshments while they discussed the proposed distillery with the J.W. Rutledge executive management team.
Douglas Pierson, AIA, LEED AP, BD+C, co-founder and a principal designer of pod architecture + design (pod a+d), has been appointed to the Board of Directors of the Triangle section, American Institute of Architects (AIAT) for a two-year term.
The AIA Triangle’s mission is “to serve its members and the Triangle community by enhancing and promoting the profession of architecture.” The AIA Triangle Board of Directors governs the overall execution of the organization’s mission.
Within the last two years, Pierson and his wife, co-founder/principal designer Youn Choi, relocated their firm and family from Los Angeles, CA, to Carrboro, establishing their studio in the historic train depot building on Main Street.
As a relative newcomer to the area, Pierson has been immersing himself in the Triangle region’s architectural community, first by becoming a Professor in Practice at the NC State School of Architecture, then by joining the Triangle Architecture & Design Society (TADS). He and Choi have also hosted a “Thirst4Architecture” networking event sponsored by North Carolina Modernist Houses and opened their studio to the public as part of AIA Triangle’s recent “Firm Crawl.”
“Joining the AIA Triangle Board is an honor and a great opportunity to serve the profession in and around our new hometown,” said Pierson. He hopes to use his experience with nonprofit organizations, community service, fundraising, advocacy, and education to support the work of the Board.
For Doug Pierson’s full biography and more information about pod a+d, visit www.podand.com and follow the firm on Facebook.
When old design meets new, there’s often an element of surprise to the final result. For a residence in Raleigh’s Historic Cameron Park neighborhood, architect Katherine Hogan and designer Vinny Petrarca, the principals of Tonic Design, created an air of the unexpected that’s seamless and deferential, but also practical and beautiful, all at once. READ MORE