April 14, 2020 § Leave a comment
“There is absolutely no reason to design otherwise.”
— Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA
Two houses on the virtual High-Performance Homes Tour (formerly Green Home Tour) that will go live Friday, April 24th at highperformancehometour.com, actually exemplify the tour’s new title. Both houses were custom designed by Chapel Hill architect Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA. Both were built by green home builder Kevin Murphy of Newphire Building, also in Chapel Hill. And both are Net Zero houses.
Within durable, functional, cost-effective structures with neutral carbon footprints, these two houses produce as much energy as they need without depleting natural resources – the definition of high-performance.
“My ideal residential client,” Schechter says, “is anyone who wants a warm, comfortable, and practical Modern, energy-efficient sustainable home with lots of natural light and connections to the outdoors, clean lines, clear volumes, and open plans. Site sensitivity and energy efficiency are imperative, by the way. There is absolutely no reason to design otherwise.”
Murphy agrees. “I’m passionate about building beautiful, comfortable, high-performance homes that can achieve Net Zero energy status,” he says. “That’s why Arielle and I work so well together. We share that goal.”
The 5000-square-foot Coy-Davis “Homestead” (above) is the first Schechter-Newphire house on the tour. Schechter designed this Net Zero home for Dr. Deron Coy and Erica Davis to accommodate their blended family and future children and for a place for their extended family to congregate for holidays and vacations. It offers space for togetherness and space for privacy. The three upstairs bedrooms have their own bay windows cantilevered out towards the forest. Among its many sustainable features are a geothermal HVAC system, a solar array with battery storage, and super-insulation.
The second Schechter-Newphire virtual tour stop is the Dori Baboolal and Dr. Hemanth Baboolal residence. “Dori and Hemanth are part of Chapel Hill’s distinguished medical community,” Schechter notes. “The cookie-cutter house they’ve been living in is illogical for their growing family and doesn’t provide the strong connection to the outdoors that they long for. So they decided to build a custom-designed, distinctly modern, Net Zero house that would make sense for their family, with every space useful and every element suited to their family and lifestyle. We were honored to be asked to create such a house for them. And a key influence on the design: bringing the outdoors in and extending the interior living spaces out onto terraces, porches, and decks.”
Sponsored by the High-Performance Building Council, a joint council of the Home Builders Associations (HBAs) of Durham, Orange, and Chatham Counties and of Raleigh-Wake County, the virtual tour is free and available on April 25-26 and May 2-3 at www.highperformancehometour.com or by downloading the app in the App Store or Google Play.
The virtual tours of all 14 houses on the roster will include photos, floorplans, links to 3D video tours, and lists of green features.
October 14, 2019 § Leave a comment
October 1, 2019 § Leave a comment
VIEW FROM THE KITCHEN AT THE CENTER OF THE HOUSE TO THE DINING AREA (RIGHT) AND LIVING AREA (LEFT) ON EITHER SIDE OF A TWO-WAY FIREPLACE.
The name Arielle Condoret Schechter has become synonymous in the Triangle with smart, stylish, Net Zero Passive houses whose modern horizontal forms appear as comfortable on their sites as the forests that often surround them.
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 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.
ARIELLE SCHECHTER CUSTOM DESIGNED THE BLACK WALNUT CABINETRY THROUGHOUT THE HOUSE.
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.
November 1, 2018 § Leave a comment
On the front of the house, a “veil” of cypress slats softens its presence within the wooded setting.
The couple was determined to escape the traditional, “soul-deadening” (their words) development where they lived. So when they met with Chapel Hill architect Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, they told her they were ready for a very private, secluded setting in the woods and a simple, modern, age-in-place house with every square foot custom-designed for their lifestyle rather than “the community’s.”
“We want a house just for the two of us,” they said. “We don’t want to socialize. We want to be left alone to enjoy our life.”
They also wanted the house to be Net Zero — using only as much energy as it produces by renewable methods — and knew Schechter specializes in modern Net Zero/Net Positive residential design. Another special request: Their new home must include a protected place where they can “sit outside and watch the rain.”
The house they described is nearing completion now on a secluded site in Chatham County. It’s a simple, compact house for two, plus a small bedroom for the homeowners’ son when he visits. The simple form, elevated where necessary to follow the natural contours of the land, is composed of three rectilinear volumes. Each volume is defined by its individual flat roof. Roof overhangs around the entire house protect the windows and the large expanses of glass that provide constant visual contact with the natural wooded setting.
On the southern elevation, the house “is free to burst forth with colors and light.”
At the front of the house facing the approaching road, Schechter created a “veil” of cypress slats that soften its presence within the wooded setting. She limited glazing to two horizontal windows tucked up under the roof’s broad overhang.
For the completely private southern elevation, however, the house “is free to burst forth with colors and light,” she explained. The blocks of primary colors there are also architectural elements, recalling the Netherlands-based De Stijl movement of the mid-1900s. De Stijl devotees believed that harmony and order could only be achieved by reducing elements to pure geometric forms and primary colors – a very fitting idea for this house, she believes.
At the central volume is a large, deeply cantilevered roof that reaches out to the south. It shades walls of glass there and provides shelter for a very private back porch where husband and wife will be able to “sit outside and watch the rain.”
Towards achieving Net Zero, Schechter oriented the house to maximize solar gain, natural light, and natural ventilation (the latter when weather permits). She is also combining a small solar array on the roof with an over-abundance of insulation, sealed air gaps, an Energy Recovery Ventilator, cement board exterior cladding, windows, and doors certified for passive house construction, and the roof overhangs – all to assure that the house will produce as much energy as it needs.
Inside, zero thresholds, curb-free showers, and oversized doorways will be part of what will make this an age-in-place home.
A Modern Cabin Grows in Orange County
Also under construction now in central Orange County is the “Modern Cabin” Schechter has designed for a couple from San Francisco (rendering above).
Schechter has created a variety of spaces for the cabin suited to different moods, types of gathering, and connectivity. A lofty living/dining space will connect on the second floor to a balcony for the upstairs bedrooms. The balcony will provide visual and social connection to the lower level.
The kitchen is also connected to the main space but tucked under the second floor on the north. Bright red tiles will give the kitchen visual warmth and energy, making it an inviting space for cooking and gathering.
The living/dining area, master bedroom, and office/study will have south-facing windows for natural light and views of the woods.
“My firm treasures southern lighting,” Schechter noted. “So we always give interior spaces as much natural light from the south as possible.
Newphire Building is the contractor for the cabin.
For more information on these are other houses by Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, visit www.arcarchitect.com
In the Ground and On the Boards: Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, Greets Spring with Modern, Custom Houses at Every Phase of Design and Construction
May 1, 2018 § Leave a comment
MASON-GRABELL MODERNISM (All renderings by Arielle Schechter)
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.
Chapel Hill architect Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, a Net Zero/Net Positive Passive House expert*, designed all three houses.
Meanwhile back in her studio, Schechter is moving along with six more projects that span the first three phases of architectural design: schematic design, design development, and construction documentation.
Mason-Grabell Modernism (pictured at top)
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.
April 5, 2018 § Leave a comment
Architect Arielle Schechter welcomes tour-goers to “Happy Family.”
The Serdar house, designed by Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA
The 2018 , sponsored by the Home Builders Association of Durham, Orange, and Chatham counties (HBADOC), will offer participants a rare opportunity to tour a customized , one of the modern, sustainable, customizable homes in a collection of small house plans designed by Chapel Hill architect . Originally the Micropolis® “Happy Family” house, this version will be open for public touring during the first two weekends in May (5-6 and 12-13), from noon to 5 pm. Schechter will be there part of the time to answer questions.
The homeowners are Cheryl and Ken Serdar, transplants from Texas, who told Schechter they wanted a “very modern, almost industrial house,” the architect said. They also needed one more bedroom than the plan offered for two reasons: (1) Cheryl Serdar is a jewelry designer and plans to work from home, so the extra room will be her studio; and (2) most banks require a third bedroom for loans (an issue that’s proving problematic for Schechter’s tiny Micropolis® plans. To date, she’s usually had to add one bedroom for future homeowners to obtain bank loans).
Like their architect, the Serdars are animal lovers who include cats in their household. For the cats’ pleasure, there is a “cat staircase” that leads up to a 12-foot-high platform “where the feline members of the family can go to observe their minions below,” she said.
Another customized deviation from the original plan is the spa-like master bathroom. Schechter designed it to explore ideas of what a luxurious bathroom can be. “Which ties in with my assertion that smaller houses let you put your money toward better quality in materials and details rather than more square feet,” she said.
Schechter names her Micropolis House® for certain inspirations they give her. She named this one “Happy Family” because the (original) two bedrooms are on opposite ends of the house with the “public” spaces in between. This floor plan provides family members with a central social area for being together and private places to which they can retreat, “creating the type of spatial variety essential for a happy family,” she said.
Speaking of happy families, the Serdars have two words for their new home: “Love it!”
January 23, 2018 § Leave a comment
For the third consecutive year, Arielle Condoret Schechter is honored for Client Satisfaction.
Architect 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.
To see Arielle Schechter’s Houzz profile, including her clients’ reviews, go to www.houzz.com/pro/acsarchitect/arielle-c-schechter-aia. For more information on the architect, visit www.acsarchitect.com.