Wednesday, October 15, 2014

New Porch and Sunroom Renovation in Central Vermont

View of new porch and sunroom addition
Another recent project nears completion in Central Vermont.  Here a retired couple sought us out to help them design a custom porch renovation and sunroom expansion.  The couple wanted to create protected four season sunroom on their south facing front porch to entertain and enjoy their house more fully.

Work also included reconfiguring the entry doors into the living room and dining room area to improve spatial flow. The faceted form of the sunroom partly partly was derived from the homeowners desire to stay within their existing footprint. The faceted area on the interior room long built-in bench.

The owner, a retired couple, have done a wonderful job doing the work themselves. For before and after photos and a little more information click on this link to our residential page.  Adjacent to their home, the couple recently installed ground mounted 10 KW of solar electric panels. Slowly they are upgrading much of their house and building ystems to become less reliant on fossil fuel while increasing the livability of their home by renovation projects like this.

Photo by Arocordis Design - Steve Frey 2014

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Arocordis Design Supports VT Digger

     Arocordis Design has become a ongoing supporter of VTDigger, Vermont's online news source providing a great alternative for insightful and full coverage of local and state news which matters to Vermont businesses large and small. Here's an article from July where we won 4 tickets to Smuggler's Notch's new waterpark.  We look forwards to using them next season.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Recent Find: Vintage Eames Molded Fiberglas Armchair

Eames Molded Fiberglass Armchair by Herman Miller
at Arocordis Design
      Last weekend we found this noble Eames molded fiberglass armchair at a garage sale locally.  It has an interesting backstory.  For years the former owners had it in a shed along with other furniture once used as a playhouse or clubhouse by children now grown.  Apparently a daughter's friend brought this unwanted modernist gem from her home to the shed to use together.
      While the minimal appearance may not suit all tastes for us it fills and empty place in our home office just calling to be filled with something light and airy.  The seat is surprisingly light yet sturdy and cleaned up really easily after all of these years.
     As the Herman Miller website proclaims in its design story about the seating line, their function, beauty, flexibility and adaptability to many kinds of settings, whether fine residences, offices, retail stores and schools.  The chair's design speaks well of a timeless approach to design from the creative minds and studio of Charles and Ray Eames.  A classic for today and tomorrow.  Plus we believe in the mantra reduce, reuse, recycle.  Newly manufactured seats more eco-friendly versions of the molded fiberglass seat list at $499.00.  We won't tell you what we found it for. Let's just say that's another story.
      But, we are so lucky to experience this special seat! Come visit us and try it out! You won't regret it.  If you admire like minded furniture, home design and architecture please give us a shout to talk about your favorites and your next project.  Maybe we can collaborate together.

Farmhouse Renovation Project Just Completed

View of Dining Area to Kitchen.  Note new door on right
was added to 
Recently work was completed on a heavy renovation of a central Vermont 1840's cape style farmhouse for a mutual friend and daughter. Her long term goal is to get off fossil fuels and live as close to net zero in the long term as possible while refreshing the historic "bones" of a vintage old Vermont Farmhouse in a budget minded yet values driven way.

The 175 year old building was of average quality with relatively recent upgrades including new vinyl replacement windows, new roof, electrical updating and newer heating systems.  The main level spaces were divided up with lots of walls, openings and doorways contributing to a poor flow between spaces, dated wall paneling, DIY plywood kitchen cabinets, carpeting and poor lighting.

We helped the owner find a number of builders to interview together for the work on the project, provided real estate property opinion and review and overall renovation design including space planning, a future great room addition and exterior improvements.  Our client wanted to open up the main living area, improve the flow from main entry, mudroom into Kitchen / Dining / Living areas.  Other spaces updated included the main bathroom, master bedroom, a complete 1840's era basement rife with an underground stream flowing beneath, with some open water areas and very poor air-sealing.  Around the home, poor grading contributed to water flow into the basement.

Rooms were rearranged, doorways blocked, other areas opened up to create desired connection between living spaces while capturing the charm of the 1840's era farmhouse while modernizing it with an eye to mid-century modern inspired finishes and themes.  Next in store lies exterior improvements including outsulation and new siding to help our client lower her home heating costs over the long term while reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

Possibly further down the road, a possible small great room addition may be built, tying together the Kitchen and Living Room / Study doubling as a sun room with beautiful mountain views.  A private deck connecting the new door off of the dining room is also in the plans.  Possible solar electric panels may also be installed in the future either on south facing roofs or nearby on site, pending in-depth solar siting review.

The builder, Rogen Design Build, based in Montpelier, Vermont regularly does projects with Efficiency Vermont Energy Star program and is a certified Building Performance Instituted (BPI) , home energy auditor and weatherization contractor.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Reinforcing Brand: A Lounge Area and Welcoming Oasis

     Recently completed, this lounge space, now opens up to a work area at National Life Group off of an elevator lobby, serving a larger work neighborhood intersection.
     It provides a welcoming respite from a busy shared hallway, while providing a place to sit and relax waiting for appointments or a location to have some quiet away time from nearby workstations.
     Note the overhead color shifting LED marquee light in the ceiling mounted way finding element.  It provides a continuous slow color shifting to brighten up this important intersection, while providing variety of moods through color.
     See also the suspended 3Form Varia Eco-Resin panels tiling in a Mondrian like pattern to provide separation from nearby work areas.  The real transparent leaves interlaid sandwiched between two clear acrylic resin panels and flame edged with wire suspension and metal hardware.
      The low modular planter boxes provide rich exposure to interior plantings which exude oxygen and nature's richness.  Seating by Herman Miller, sourced through Creative Office Pavilion out of Burlington, headquartered in Boston, Mass. Woodwork and resin panel fabrication and installation by Amoskeag Woodworking. Color shifting light from Delray Lighting.  Eco-friendly modular carpet flooring is Powerbond by Tandus.
     Painted wall colors, upholstery, lighting, plants and other finishes all reinforce the company's brand color palette while underscoring their company wide mission, brand and value set.  All interior finishes were selected and installed with low-voc, environmentally friendly materials, vegetation and recyclable, reusable when and where possible.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Civitas in Our Downtowns

Walking recently around and visiting Newburyport, Massachusetts a few weekends ago I thought of a word I don't normally think of. Ever heard of the latin word Civitas? Civitas is a latin word meaning "a body of citizens who constitute a state, especially a city-state, commonwealth or the like". It also means "citizenship, especially as imparting shared responsibility, a common purpose, and a sense of community.
Newburyport's small scale walkable seaside downtown exemplifies a place teeming with a sense of community or civitas.There's a strong vibe there hard to pin down with words like comfortable, social, textural, pedestrian friendly, authentic, civic and most importantly livable, coming to mind when trying to define such an intangible idea.
It's where place and space commingle with a clear sense of identity through a variety of factors. In short, it's what many cities and towns seek to create by their community wide efforts to cultivate a strong, successful and vibrant downtown.
To create and then cultivate civitas requires a multi-faceted approach to community design with a long term view. It takes shared commitment from everyday citizens, elected officials, community business leaders and organizations, architects, landscape architects, planners, school systems and more. It's a additive process requiring being in relationship to your community, taking responsibility by participating, volunteering, helping out.
Sometimes you need to go away and visit somewhere else to learn to truly appreciate what you have close to home and not take if for granted. I live in Montpelier, Vermont an inland city bisected by two rivers which also happens to be our state capital. It too is a livable pedestrian friendly city with a strong and vibrant downtown, great local shops and lovely quirky Vermonter's. (note the car with the single headlight in the below picture)
Visiting Newburyport renewed by appreciation of where I live and how grateful I am to be part of our community. In the coming year, I promise to strongly cultivate that relationship by giving more of my time to our city. It truly matters.
Do you live iin a city with a downtown like Newburyport or Montpelier? What are some reasons it is unique and special? Are there shared characteristics which small cities with great downtowns share?
#Design #Architecture #Community (originally published on LinkedIn 8/21/14)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Our Work Future: Sociability, Workplace and Technology

Last week I attended "The Future of Work" hosted by the Vermont Human Resources Association and supported by Champlain College. This is the partner article to the one I wrote last week; "The Future of Work: Moore's Law and Emotional Courage" here on LinkedIn and elsewhere.
Chuck Manisacalo, VP of Strategic Development from Champlain College set the stage for Owen Milne, Corporate Accounts and Integrated Interiors Manager at Red Thread, by talking about the greater historical context of work, workers and the workplace. He shared some great insight in how quickly things change and especially pointed out key qualities needed for tomorrow's workforce.
This second part is tough because it's closer to what I do every day, designing physical places and spaces all the while integrating with ever-changing organizational, social and technological concerns. It's dizzying but yet at the end of the day, completely inspiring. Last week I wrote about how we in our work today spend a greater amount of our time in digital space as well as working in physical space in our offices, workplaces, and schools. Owen really hit that point home looking into the future of the workplace and its design.
Milne dovetailed with Manisacalo's introduction and overview of key trends and shifts in the workplace, by asking a hard question,
"What is our work future knowing we face dizzying technological change, globalization and the demand to optimize collaboration all the while humanizing a workplace run rampant by the incessant demands of hyper-active online sociability?" I took the weekend to reflect on his questions, his pointed suggestions and the possibilities he shared.
He used the above iconic image from 2002's "Minority Report" of Tom Cruise manipulating the information stream on his digital everchanging case file display, the continuing need to humanize the user's experience with technology helping to enhance collaboration, whether physical or digital or somewhere inbetween. Seemingly far-fetched then, twelve years later this technology is available in rudimentary handsfree forms.
As we shift away from knowledge based [traditional transactional work and work settings] towards someplace else a humanized [ authentic] (my add) experience remains critical, emphasizing sociability and connectivity. As Tom Friedman said in his article quoted in last week's article, in adapting forward, we must "seek to be complementary to technology rather than struggle against it." [I paraphrase].