July 19, 2017 § Leave a comment
Designed by Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, this small, modern, age-in-place house will be featured on the Fall 2017 Modapalooza Tour.
“The Professor’s House,” a small, sustainable, age-in-place house overlooking Morgan Creek in Chapel Hill, has been selected for the Fall 2017 Modapalooza Tour on Saturday, September 16, sponsored by North Carolina Modernist Houses (NCMH).
Chapel Hill architect Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, designed the house for a retired professor of Native American Studies. A widow now, she wanted to downsize from her 3200-square-foot house and live with her dog in a modern, age-in-place house in a quiet, wooded neighborhood in Chapel Hill, NC.
She contacted Schechter because she’d heard about the Micropolis Houses®, a collection of modern “tiny house” plans Schechter designed that range from 150 to 1500 square feet and can be customized to meet specific buyers’ needs and preferences. In this case, the professor wanted to add a third bedroom/office and an extra bath to the Micropolis® plan she chose.
“A small house meant she could have things like a swimming pool, a Japanese soaking tub, and choose nicer elements for her money,” Schechter noted.
The final design is nearly half the size of the professor’s previous house. Yet at only a little more than 1600 heated square feet– almost 1000 square feet less than the average American house, which is now 2500 square feet — it packs in all of the professor’s spatial needs in an open, fluid floor plan with age-in-place functionality. Schechter calls it a “Custom-opolis.”
The Professor’s House is one of seven houses designed by award-winning architects on this year’s Modapalooza Tour, including projects by Frank Harmon, Phil Szostak, Tina Govan, Jason Hart, and in situ studio. (For all the details about the tour, visit http://www.ncmodernist.org/palooza17.htm.)
The Professor’s House is also in the running for a 2017 George Matsumoto Prize, which recognizes excellence in North Carolina modernist residential design sponsored by NCMH. Winners are selected by both a professional jury and public voting. (Public voting at https://ncmhcompetitions.squarespace.com/ ends July 20.)
For more information on The Professor’s House and architect Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, visit www.acsarchitect.com.
Photos by Iman Woods
January 19, 2017 § Leave a comment
Over 40 million monthly users that comprise the Houzz community chose Schechter and the other winners from among more than one million active home building, remodeling, and design industry professionals.
Best Of Houzz honors are awarded annually in three categories: Design, Customer Service, and Photography. The Customer Service honor is based on several factors, including the number and quality of client reviews that a professional receives. (Click here to see Schechter’s reviews.) A “Best Of Houzz 2017” badge now appears on Schechter’s Houzz profile, along with the 2016 badge and a 2015 “Recommended on Houzz” honor.
According to Lisa Hausman, vice president of industry marketing, “These badges help homeowners identify popular and top-rated home professionals in every metro area. Each of these businesses was singled out for recognition by our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts for helping to turn their home improvement dreams into reality.”
Founder and principal of Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, Architect, the architect is perhaps best known for her modern, Net Zero Passive residential designs and her new Micropolis Houses® collection of modern, sustainable “tiny home” plans.
Houzz is the leading platform for home remodeling and design, online or from a mobile device connecting millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world. With the largest residential design database in the world and a vibrant community empowered by technology, Houzz is the easiest way for people to find inspiration, get advice, buy products and hire the professionals they need to help turn their ideas into reality. Headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, Houzz also has international offices in London, Berlin, Sydney, Moscow and Tokyo. Houzz and the Houzz logo are registered trademarks of Houzz Inc. worldwide. For more information, visit houzz.com.
January 2, 2017 § Leave a comment
Arielle Condoret Schechter amps up the style.
January 2, 2017 (Chapel Hill, NC) – When Chapel Hill-based architect Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, was asked to renovate a mid-century modern house in Durham, she quickly realized that her task would be to interject some of the key features of mid-century modern design that this 1940s house was actually lacking. And, in doing so, she would create an appropriate setting for an icon of modern furniture design.
One of the primary elements of mid-century residential design is an innovative floor plan in which living spaces flow seamlessly and cohesively into each other. This house didn’t have that element, so Schechter opened up the interior to connect, rather than divide, the kitchen, dining, and living areas. A new window expands the view of the surrounding garden and forest in keeping with mid-century modern design’s emphasis on connectivity with the outdoors.
Many modern houses of that era also featured at least one special interior detail, such as an open-tread staircase, decorative concrete block screening, or an exposed brick wall, for example. This house needed a special detail “to amp up the style factor,” Schechter said. So she removed the faux-black stone around the fireplace in the living area and replaced it with floor-to-ceiling Heath Ceramics Dimensional tile. “Then we added down lighting to show off the sculptural form of the tile and to bring a sense of light and shadow to the new fireplace face,” Schechter said.
Now the new open living/dining space, filled with natural light, is also a fitting backdrop for a spectacular piece of mid-century modern furniture: the homeowners’ original “Conoid Bench” by Japanese-American woodworker/architect, George Nakashima.
In the kitchen, Schechter corrected a combination of painted and wood cabinets by specifying cherry flush overlay cabinetry to provide a much-needed streamlined look: Flush overlay cabinet doors align on all four sides with the edges of the framework. The cherry wood adds an element of warmth in keeping with the mid-century modern era. The back splash is white Heath subway tile.
“I understand them so well,” she said, “which is why I enjoy helping people renovate, remodel, and update their mid-century modern houses. I do it for the love of the design and to feel connected with the living, breathing ideas with which these houses still pulse. This renovation was done on a tight budget, but we were still able to inject style and function into this little house.”
For more information on Arielle Condoret Schechter, visit www.acsarchitect.com.
April 28, 2016 § Leave a comment
The professor/author wanted to build “Little Paws,” one of Chapel Hill architect Arielle Condoret Schechter’s collection of tiny, modern, sustainable house plans she sells under the registered trademark Micropolis Houses®. But at 1059 square feet, “Little Paws” only had room for two bedrooms.
“And she needed three bedrooms,” Schechter said. “So ‘Little Paws’ quickly morphed into a custom small house – a sort of custom Micropolis®, if you will. But it’s still way under the size of the average American house, which is 2500 square feet. This house is still only 1679 square feet.”
Construction should begin soon in Chapel Hill on Schechter’s not-quite-so-tiny house, which remains true to the original modern design with its rhythmic volumes, crisp geometry, flat rooflines and extra bedroom. Packing a lot of punch into its modest envelope, this small custom-designed home includes an open great room and dining area, a “super-functional” working kitchen, Schechter said, a study, a guest suite and additional bedroom, plus a master suite complete with Japanese Ofuro soaking tub.
As with all of her residential projects, Arielle Schechter prioritizes natural light inside and spectacular spaces outside to encourage the connection between indoors and outdoors. In this case, those spaces are a screen porch, terrace, and pool, all of which overlook a natural creek. An abundance of windows, including corner glass, offers constant views of the outdoors. Deep roof overhangs protect the glass from the high summer sun – one of the many green building principles Schechter utilized for this project.
An advocate of age-in-place architecture, Schechter also made sure “Little Paws” was adaptable to universal design even though the original plan was intended as a raised pier house. The professor welcomed the adaptation, Schechter said, so that this will be her last home.
Years in the making: Tiny homes are growing increasingly popular today, but Arielle Schechter didn’t design Micropolis Houses® to jump on the bandwagon. Growing up in North Carolina, she realized that the mobile homes scattered or clumped together across North Carolina filled the need for small housing options but had no design integrity, they were usually made of poor materials, and she couldn’t see how they contributed to their owners’ quality of life. So a few years ago she began working on an alternative and Micropolis Houses® were born – quality, architect-designed house plans that range from 150 to 1500 square feet and can be customized to meet specific buyers’ needs and preferences.
For more information on Arielle Condoret Schechter, the Micropolis Houses® and all of her work, visit www.acsarchitect.com.
January 18, 2016 § Leave a comment
From among remodeling and design professionals in North America and around the world
Houzz is a leading platform for home remodeling and design. Over 35 million unique monthly users that comprise the Houzz community chose Schechter’s firm from among more than one million active home building, remodeling, and design industry professionals represented on the platform.
The Best Of Houzz awards are presented annually in three categories: Design, Customer Service, and Photography. Customer Service honors are based on several factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional receives during the year. As a result, a “Best Of Houzz 2016” badge appears on winners’ Houzz profiles to help homeowners identify popular and top-rated home professionals in every metro area.
“I’m surprised and thrilled to receive this honor,” Schechter said. “And I want to thank all of my wonderful clients who wrote those kind reviews.”
“Anyone building, remodeling, or decorating looks to Houzz for the most talented and service-oriented professionals” said Liza Hausman, vice president of Industry Marketing for Houzz. “We’re so pleased to recognize Arielle’s work this way.”
In 2015, Schechter received a “Recommended on Houzz” honor.
Houzz is the leading platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish – online or from a mobile device. From decorating a small room to building a custom home and everything in between, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world. With the largest residential design database in the world and a vibrant community empowered by technology, Houzz is the easiest way for people to find inspiration, get advice, buy products and hire the professionals they need to help turn their ideas into reality. Headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, Houzz also has international offices in London, Berlin, Sydney, Moscow and Tokyo. Houzz and the Houzz logo are registered trademarks of Houzz Inc. worldwide. For more information, visit houzz.com.
October 21, 2015 § Leave a comment
After stealing the show during the 2015 Green Home Tour with “Happy Meadows,” the modern, net-zero passive house she designed in Pittsboro, NC, Chapel Hill architect Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, now has another modern, net-zero, passive house-inspired home under construction – this time in Chapel Hill, and this time for the custom green homebuilder who helped her create Happy Meadows: Kevin Murphy of Newphire Building.
For the past decade, “greenwashing” has run rampant in the home building industry. Simply put, “greenwashing” occurs when an architect, contractor, or home builder spends more time and money claiming to be “green” through advertising and marketing than actually implementing practices that minimize environmental impact.
Arielle Schechter and Kevin Murphy take environmental impact very seriously.
According to Murphy, the 2950-square-foot house Schechter has designed for his family of four will be “a warm and functional family home as well as a showcase of cutting-edge green building techniques.”
Architecturally, the house effortlessly combines environmental stewardship with the simple volumes, flat rooflines, open floor plan, and indoor-outdoor living that define modern styling. The first floor will feature a spacious living/dining/kitchen area connected to a screen porch that will extend the living space outdoors. The master bedroom wing will be located on the first floor with the children’s suite – complete with a multipurpose music and entertainment room – and home office upstairs. Typical of Schechter’s residential work, a private interior courtyard will link all spaces together.
The house is located on a 4.3-acre site at the end of a private gravel road
that is very secluded yet only a seven-minute drive from Chapel Hill or Carrboro. Despite the size of the lot, stream buffers, setbacks to existing well and septic concerns, and a new leach field left Murphy with a surprisingly small area on which to build his house.
The site’s eastern line runs down to the branch of a small creek. Beyond the creek, dozens of acres of Triangle Land Conservancy property provides a lush buffer for wildlife. The screen porch faces the forest.
Far from “greenwashing,” the Murphy home will be “net zero/net positive,” meaning that it will produce as much energy as it uses and probably even more. “We anticipate a National Green Building Standard ‘Gold’ rating,” Murphy noted.
Murphy said he will employ the techniques he’s learned while building Certified Passive Houses. His home will be super-insulated and extremely air tight, far beyond regular building code requirements. To provide the home with fresh air, Murphy and Schechter will utilize the cutting-edge Conditioning Energy Recovery Ventilator (CERV) that they used at the Happy Meadows home. The CERV filters, dehumidifies and tempers incoming fresh air before distributing it to the living area. The home will be heated and cooled by two tiny Fujitsu mini-split heat pumps and all of the windows will be high performance, European, triple-pane tilt and turn by Awilux. As a result, the house will need only a small array of photovoltaic (solar) panels to produce all the electricity the house will need.
To maximize both passive and active solar gain, the house’s axis run east to west, thereby capturing an abundance of southern sunlight.
According to its architect and builder/homeowner, this modern, high-performance house will be part of the 2016 Green Home Tour sponsored by the Home Builders Association of Durham, Orange and Chatham counties.
April 27, 2015 § Leave a comment
There’s “green,” and then there’s GREEN.
When the Home Buyers Association of Durham, Orange, and Chatham counties presents its 10thannual Green Home Tour May 2-3 and 9-10, tour-goers will see several houses that are certified“green” because they use less energy, water and natural resources, create less waste, and are generally healthier environments than a traditionally designed and constructed house.
Two houses on the tour, however, are so green that even LEED Platinum structures pale in comparison. Designed by Chapel Hill architect Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, homes “C6” and “C12”in the tour’s guidebook are “net zero passive houses.”
Net zero means that these houses produce as much energy as they use. “Passive” refers to their ability to maintain indoor temperature with minimal dependence on active HVAC systems.
“Of course, passive houses work well in tandem with active systems like solar panels if the goal is to reach net zero,” Schechter pointed out. “And we did indeed reach net zero and beyond on both of these houses.”
And, unlike traditionally built houses, these net zero passive houses do not emit any greenhouse gases into the environment.
In Chapel Hill, “C6” is the 2289-square-foot, two-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath home of Phil and Velma Helfaer, which they have named the “Happy Meadows Courtyard House” because it also features one of Schechter’s signature design elements: a private courtyard.
“I love courtyards because they also add warmth and grace wherever they’re located,” she notes.“They expand living spaces and extend sight lines. And, yes, they’re wonderful places to dine, lounge, and entertain outdoors with complete privacy. At their most primal level, courtyards provide“sanctuary” and “calm” as an antidote to our overcomplicated world.”
Kevin Murphy, the owner of Newphire Building and a Certified Passive House Builder, built Happy Meadows. “We wanted to create a home that combined the application of the most up-to-date energy modeling and building science with an artful, modern aesthetic,” he says.
A longtime animal advocate, Schechter’s favorite feature just might be the creation of the wildlife habitat in the pond and water feature. “We always try to include a place for wildlife in our designs. The Happy Meadows water gardens provide homes for frogs and other species, which are in critical decline as they suffer from more and more habitat loss from development.”
Designed to be net positive with the addition of more solar panels in the future, the house will produce enough excess energy to charge an electric car. It’s even third-party certified to the most rigorous energy efficiency standard in the country — Passive House Plus – and follows every EPA recommendation for indoor air quality. For more details on this house: http://www.acsarchitect.com/#!happy-meadows-courtyard-house/c246b.
“C12,” in Pittsboro’s Laughing Brook subdivision, is the home of Pam and Aaron
Fleischauer and their young son, Jack. At 1790 square feet with three bedrooms and two baths, this net zero “modern farmhouse” features ultra-low-maintenance concrete exterior walls, 20 solar panels, a tiny HVAC system, and on-demand hot water, among a host of other net zero and passive house elements and details. Bright in the winter and cool and shady in the summer, it was built by Anchorage Building Corp.
“We are in the house and it is wonderful,” Aaron Fleischauer told the Chapel Hill News in August. “It is so beautiful. I am amazed how clean the air feels.”
The Green Home Tour features a diverse group of newly built or remodeled green-certified homes, giving the public an opportunity to see first-hand the renewable energy and advanced green building practices in home design in the three counties. For more information on the tour, go to hbadoc.com.
For more information on Arielle Condoret Schechter and the green homes she designs, visit www.acsarchitect.com.
About Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, Architect:
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 designs, Micropolis Houses™. She is a lifelong environmentalist and animal advocate who was riding on the green design train long before it became mainstream. She lives in Chapel Hill with her husband, Arnie, and an assortment of foster animals in a Modern house she designed. For more information: www.acsarchitect.com.