“Harsh Riverfront Site Inspires Spectacular Net Zero Home”

July 28, 2020 § Leave a comment

1.Haw River House drone view copy 2

Greywater collection, renewable energy, and a propane generator keep this Haw River dwelling resilient and self-sustaining. Photos by Tzu Chen

When architect Arielle Condoret Schechter’s clients purchased the dazzling 21-acre strip of land that would become their home on the Haw River in North Carolina, the seller had a simple condition: He wanted them to build a home that was environmentally responsible.

The buyers granted his wish by hiring Schechter, a residential architect known for building net zero or passive houses with an ultramodern aesthetic. And his directive became the first of many ways the land would dictate Schechter’s design for the Haw River House.

“It is just spectacular out there,” Schechter says. “It’s like nothing I’ve ever had a chance to work on as far as primal beauty goes.” READ MORE

4.Haw River_view from the river at dusk copy 2

The Paradis-Zimmerman house overlooks the Haw River rapids from its perch on a rocky knoll surrounded by a forest.

ARCHITECTS + ARTISANS: “Six Winners in the Matsumoto Competition”

July 26, 2020 § Leave a comment

1.Haw River House drone view copy 2

By Micheal Welton (Photo by Tzu Chen)

It couldn’t have happened to a nicer place.

The top two winners in the 2020 Matsumoto Prize competition – for both juried and people’s choice awards – are sited on one of Carolina’s most sought-after beaches…

…Second place in the juried competition went to Arielle C. Schechter’s Haw River House. “‘It’s just enough house for the site,’ was one of the comments,” he says. Third place went to Haymond House, by Tonic Design’s Vinny Petrarca and Katherine Hogan… READ MORE


ARCHITECTS + ARTISANS: “A Hawk’s-Eye View from a Haw River Home”

May 6, 2020 § Leave a comment

1.Haw River House drone view copy 2

By J. Mike Welton | Photos by Tzu Chen

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.”

Then there was the raptor. READ MORE


Smart, Stylish, Sustainable: House in Beech Forest Featured on Fall Modapalooza Tour

October 1, 2019 § Leave a comment

Dining with view

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.


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.


“Green” Architect Helps Seniors Conserve Energy Use and Costs, Age In Place

October 14, 2014 § Leave a comment

During the Orange County Dept. on Aging Housing Expo

Chapel Hill architect, passive houses, energy conservation

Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA

Chapel Hill architect Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA will help senior citizens and their families discover ways to make their homes more energy-efficient during The Orange County Department on Aging Housing Expo Saturday, October 25, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Seymour Center.

Schechter specializes in “super-green” housing with a focus on passive homes built to PHIUS (Passive House Institute US) standards, which are among the most stringent sustainability standards in the world.

Passive houses are not quite the same thing as passive solar,” Schechter noted. “They are much more than that, although passive solar is often one of the many features of a passive house. ”

She explained that passive houses include super-insulation, a tight building envelope, and the elimination of thermal bridging (junctions where insulation is not continuous and causes heat loss). As a result, passive houses use dramatically less energy than the standard home and recoup the up-front costs for the extra insulation with dramatically lowered electrical bills for the rest of the house’s life.  The US Department of Energy has praised Passive House standards as being the best path to Net Zero.

From her booth at the Expo, however, Schechter will help seniors explore simple energy-conservation options for their existing homes.

“The US Department of Energy says that replacing 15 old light bulbs with LED lights will save you about $50 per year on your electric bill.” she said. “There are so many other little things you can do around your home that will add up to real energy cost savings, such as stopping air leaks with caulk and weather-stripping and insulation to save money and make your house more comfortable. When it comes time to replace an appliance, I’ll recommend buying ones with the Energy Star® rating. Same with windows: If you have to replace them, switch to high-efficiency windows that have the right type of glass. Some passive house windows have an R-value almost the same as a standard insulated stud wall. And with the droughts that are becoming the norm every summer in our state, I’m a big advocate of collecting rainwater, whether with simple rain barrels or more involved cistern systems for lawn and garden irrigation.”

Schechter also specializes in “age in place” houses. According to AARP, older homeowners overwhelmingly prefer to age in place, which means living in their homes safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age or ability. Schechter will be available to discuss home modifications that could allow seniors to remain in their houses rather than move into long-term care facilities by increasing access and maneuverability.

“Modifications range from simple solutions to elaborate undertakings,” Schechter said. “Simple modifications include changing out lights to brighter LED bulbs for aging eyes, adding bath and shower grab bars, and changing floor coverings to accommodate a wheel chair or to get rid of slippery surfaces. More involved efforts might include removing a shower curb to make it curb-less, adding a simple exterior ramp to your entry instead of a staircase, widening doorways, creating a multifunctional first floor master suite if the master bedroom is currently on the second story, and even installing a home elevator. How much you do will depend on need and budget.”

The Chapel Hill Seymour Center is located at 2551 State Road 1777, Chapel Hill, NC 27516. For more information on the Housing Expo, go to

For more information on Arielle Condoret Schechter and her work, visit


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