Calling the site for this project “one of the tightest little corners I’ve ever had to make something fit,” Chapel Hill architect Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, has designed a modern, sustainable home on a mountainside in Swannanoa, NC, a tiny township between Asheville and Black Mountain, NC.
Designed for P.J. Miller, a musician, and artist Katie McWeeney, the two-story, modern, thoroughly “green” house will hug the flat part of the couple’s cliff-side property and include three bedrooms, two baths, an open kitchen/dining/living core, two studios/workspaces, two carports, and abundant decking for outdoor living and connectivity between the indoors and outdoors.
Chief among Schechter’s inspirations for this design was the couple’s lament over never having enough kitchen, workspace, or studio space in previous homes. “We’re trying to remedy that in this house,” she said, accepting the challenge despite the restrictive size of the property’s buildable area.
Actually, the site’s verticality helped her solve the studio/workspace problem. She’s tucked two studios beneath the living spaces, along with carports/loading zones on each end. The loading zones will create sightlines and open-air spaces within the entire volume, she pointed out, “and create the sort of positive-negative composition I like.”
Along with art and music, Miller and McSweeney enjoy cooking, baking, and hosting cooking classes. To enhance their passion, the Schechter-designed kitchen will provide a profusion of natural lighting along with an open, professionally planned interior.
Will the Miller-McWeeney home contribute to Schechter’s ever-expanding portfolio of net-zero residential designs?
“Yes, of course,” she said emphatically. “Our goal for all our houses is to be net-zero, net-positive or at the very least, net-zero-ready.” The latter means that the completed house will be wired and plumbed for solar panels to be installed in the future. “That, plus rooftop water collection for gardening should make this a very sustainable house for this great couple to enjoy.”
The house comprises three forms that are connected. At their simplest, they are rectangles that connect to form a Z pattern, descending the slope of the hill toward a creek.
Corrugated metal panels give texture to the lengthy façades that are punctured by horizontal windows, which emphasize their length. To keep the lines clean, the architects specified limited trim.
The home blends in with other houses in the neighborhood in terms of size and scale, but because of the slope, the two lower forms disappear from the street view. The buildable area on the hillside site was limited to a triangular, northeast corner of the site. Instead of facing the streetside to the east, the house faces the creek bed to the southwest. READ MORE
North Carolina is one of the most popular states to live in the country. The “Triangle” region of the state, which includes Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, provides visitors and residents with a myriad of reasons to enjoy the state…
For those considering relocating to the region and those seeking to upgrade their North Carolina homes, the best residential architects are necessary.
The [HBD list] showcases the best residential architects in North Carolina. These firms were selected based on their experiences in residential designs, awards won, years in the industry, and media coverage, and they are the best in the industry. (Click here to see the entire list.)…
…Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, Architect
What separates multi-award-winning firm Arielle Condoret Schechter, Architect, from the other architects is a clear understanding of how each project is about more than designing an exceptional space. Each project has the capacity to enhance people’s lives and lifestyles, and this small firm is dedicated to doing exactly that. READ MORE
Rocks & Acid, a new retail wine shop and tasting room coming this year to Chapel Hill’s Southern Village neighborhood, is one of “The 14 Most Anticipated Restaurants Across the Carolinas for 2022,” according to Eater Carolinas digital magazine.
While the name doesn’t say it, food will play a key role in owner Paula de Pano’s desire to have her customers relax and linger at Rocks & Acid. To that end, pod architecture + design included a large pass-through window at the shop’s exterior patio in their design. A “curated selection of artisan cheeses, charcuterie, conservas, caviar and cakes” will be available at the window and interior wine bar, according to JNK Public Relations.
CLICK HERE to go to Eater Carolinas to see the complete list.
CLICK HERE for more information on pod a+d‘s design for Rocks & Acid.
The location is tucked into a protected forested area covered in trees with a creek nearby. It’s an odd-shaped lot with a hillside and boulders, surrounded by nature. It was a huge challenge for architect Doug Pierson and designer Youn Choi, but the end result is absolutely stunning. READ MORE
Arielle Schechter on how Japan Inspires Her Design Philosophy
This architect builds for the North Carolina climate and for clients who crave sustainability.
By Jessica Mordaco
Light is the most important factor in architect Arielle Schechter’s design philosophy. Much of her design inspiration comes from Japanese architects who use screens and overhangs to block the sun while creating a seamless translucence from outdoors to indoors—that, and modernist design that connects inside spaces to nature. Schechter became interested in her craft at a young age, growing up with a famous mid-century architect as a father. “I always thought I’d work for him but, when he died, I had a lot of things I wanted to say in architecture,” she says. “I totally believe there’s no point in designing anything, much less a green building unless you’re going to make it wonderful for the people who live in it, too.”
So she started her firm Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, and she now works tirelessly to change public opinion that architects are scary and expensive to work with.
“I really don’t care how much money I make. I just want to get people to stop buying cookie-cutter, badly built developer houses that don’t have an architect involved because they’re inefficient.”
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.
Future LEED- Platinum building breaks ground in downtown Raleigh.
December 8, 2010 (RALEIGH, NC) – After two years of planning and waiting for financing, the North Carolina chapter of the American Institute of Architects will finally hold its official, public groundbreaking ceremony for its new headquarters building and design center on Thursday, December 9, at 11:30 a.m. The building will be constructed on an oddly shaped, previously unused lot on Peace and Wilmington streets between Peace College and the NC Government Complex.
Designed by Frank Harmon Architect PA after the firm won a professional competition for the project in 2008, the AIA NC Center for Architecture & Design will be “a modern building with a green heart,” as Frank Harmon, FAIA, likes to call it.
The building has been designed to meet LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards at the highest Platinum level, and AIA Committee On The Environment (COTE) goals, which include regional appropriateness and the use of regionally available materials, land use and site ecology, sustainable materials and methods of construction, reduced water usage, and increased energy efficiency.
“As we come out of the recession, we won’t be building in the same wasteful ways,” Harmon said. “With new emphasis on alternative energy and sustainable design, the AIA NC Center will show us a new way to build.”
Harmon also believes the Center will be a compelling example for responsible revitalization of the cores of towns and cities across the state, including Raleigh.
“It will demonstrate sustainable urban development and put Raleigh ‘on the map’ as a leader in this endeavor,” he noted, “from re-using every shovel of earth removed for the footprint, to the porously paved parking garden and state-of-the-art ‘green’ technology.”
Deferring to the natural topography, the new building will be situated along the edge of the property and porously paved so that the majority of the site will be park-like – a public park in an area of the city that doesn’t have one. This will provide an outdoor gathering space for AIA NC and community events and effectively expand AIA NC’s outreach program.
“One of AIA NC’s goals is to contribute to the vitality of that section of downtown by transforming an awkward, unused piece of property into a ‘people center’ that will, in turn, impact the businesses around it,” Harmon said.
Architecturally, the overriding objective of the building’s concept is “to demonstrate and encourage aesthetic and ecological integrity – to create a flagship for green architecture in North Carolina that is architecturally, environmentally, socially, and aesthetically inspiring,” Harmon said.