Tuesday, August 16, 2016

New Project Work: American Meadows and High Country Seeds New Workplace

View into common area and meeting shed from open work area
      Driving down Shelburne Road in Shelburne, Vermont a new workplace for American Meadows and High Country Seeds rises along one of the busiest roads in Vermont.  
     Their new workplace displays our mission and values driven design and work process. We designed their interior architecture renovation including front of house offices, meeting spaces, collaboration areas, and shipping/ receiving areas. We provided space planning, workplace strategies and more.  
      We worked closely with the owner on the design who then collaborated with Christine Burdick who provided finishing touches of targeted finishes, furniture selection and wall graphics. 
      Together we created a new workplace environment echoing their brand DNA of a disruptive e-commerce company operating in the gardening and seed space.  The owner purchased the former site of a venerable area outdoor recreation store which became a high end furniture store seeing new possibilities for re-purposing its' tall floor to floor heights and vast open areas into a high functioning collaborative focused open office workplace and seed shipping and receiving warehouse area.  
View from main entry looking deep into open work area
      There's more to be done in the months ahead but these images show what's emerging.  Like their brand, they've planted a new seed in Shelburne providing the area with renewed energy and vitality.  We helped create meeting spaces in close proximity to open work areas and common spaces like the kitchen commons which also doubles as a flexible meeting space.  
      We developed an interior kit of parts of interior elements which evolved out of a garden shed aesthetic with common everyday materials like galvanized corrugated sheet metal, rustic shake shingles, a timber frame. The client was extremely interested in bringing a feeling of nature near into their new workplace with natural materials including repurposing as flooring in the central common area reclaimed bleachers. 
      Improving daylighting and access to views outside was also critical to American Meaodws. We campaigned for opening up the center of darkest area with a generous skylight to let daylight and the sunshine in over the kitchen / common area.  To further lighten the space on the south elevation, a series of large windows matching existing windows on other elevations were installed.
View of the kitchen and commons area

View into the existing climbing wall area
with large nature inspired wall graphics

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Zig Zag House 2 - Project in design

Southeast view at night
Concept floor plan
      A new 1,000 square foot small house, weekend getaway, 2nd home, guest house. Call what you will but it's a ready to go super energy efficient net-zero ready home simply conceived, easy to maintain. If you're of modern design inclination and want to try simpler living within a compact footprint you might consider this design or adapting it to your specific needs, building site, life stage and more.
      Designed for high energy efficiency, comfort and performance, this home design can be tailored to you budget, objectives and aesthetics. If you're curious about integrating the specifics of the exterior building enclosure, insulation levels, types of windows, building systems for heating and cooling to maximize performance and value for you, it's certainly worth a conversation.  
      Shown here as a 1,000 sq. ft. house and 700 sq. ft. garage on a relatively flat site, the overall building and its site features can be adjusted to your own site, your budget and living needs. Consider what you see here as a " beginning take" in a yet to happen collaboration between you and us.  Here we conceive an ideal relationship between building and land, aesthetics and function. But it takes your insight, wants and dreams to make this home design idea come alive. Also, note you have options to build only the house, the house and garage / studio space or perhaps conceive of the garage space as an open carport someday you will build out. 
       For the building construction features, we propose a cold climate responsive solution with a R40 walls, R60 roof, R20 foundation and R10 for insulation levels along with a mix of clear and low-e argon filled triple insulated fiberglass windows for comfort and performance. 
View to entry from drive walk
     Exterior finishes shown here range from cedar shakes to cement board or cedar siding, some steel columns near the entry, Ipe or Trex decking for recyclability.
      We show simple, health focused interior finishes and interior lighting to meet your design and budget objectives. This includes slate flooring and sustainable wood flooring.  Of course we need to collaborate on the design of the kitchen and bath to your wants and needs. If you'd like to know more, contact us here or call 802-448-0056 to speak to Steve Frey, Principal Architect. 

Mudroom entry

View to south west - main living area

View towards kitchen and mudroom entry beyond
View of living area through "view finder"
View from south west to exterior

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Rise Up Bakery Concept Illustration

Our fundraising concept illustration for The  Old Labor Hall - Barre, Vermont - National Historic Landmark, Barre Historical Society Rise Up Bakery feasibility study project. The goal?  Help return to Barre and this historic site, wood-fired artisanal bread baking, community education and #workforce #training for #breadbaking in Central Vermont in the years ahead! 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Arocordis Design of Montpelier, VT Awarded Best Of Houzz 2016

      Arocordis Design of Montpelier, Vermont has won “Best Of Customer Service” on Houzz®, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. The five-year old full service green architectural design firm was chosen by the more than 35 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community from among more than one million active home building, remodeling and design industry professionals.
      The Best Of Houzz is awarded 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 received in 2015. A “Best Of Houzz 2016” badge will appear on winners’ profiles, as a sign of their commitment to excellence. These badges help homeowners identify popular and top-rated home professionals in every metro area on Houzz.
      “At Arocordis Design we cultivate inspiring places and spaces with a sustainable mindset. We build our community of satisfied clients here on Houzz one relationship at a time. Receiving this award invigorates our commitment to providing exceptional design and service to our clients and their families in the years ahead.” said Stephen M. Frey, AIA, principal architect and president of Arocordis Design.
     “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 Arocordis Design voted one of our “Best Of Houzz” professionals by our enormous community of homeowners and design enthusiasts actively remodeling and decorating their homes.”

About Arocordis Design

      Arocordis Design, a Vermont architecture firm serving the Northeast, cultivates inspiring places and spaces with a sustainable mindset. They practice residential design integrating homeowner's sense of beauty, functional requirements, dreams and aspirations with a values driven design process.
     In their work with clients they seek to deeply connect to family, nature and place. Additionally, they prioritize beauty, comfort, energy efficiency, long term value and durability with a homeowner's budget, construction schedule, peace of mind and long-term operation. 

About Houzz

      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

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Best Place to Work: A Culture Building Inspiration

Looking for inspiration to bring to your organization in 2016? Get a copy of "The Best Place to Work" by Ron Friedman. Whether seeking to improve culture, build engagement or your workplace design and setting, a must read for leadership, managers, doers. #workplacedesign #ceo #culturecode #business #sustainability

Monday, January 4, 2016

How to Fuel Climate Success by Social Enterprise

Image Credit - NASA,
The Earth Seen From Apollo 17 - 1972,
by the Crew of Apollo 17
      In the late 1970's I stood in line for Ben & Jerry's Ice cream at a renovated gas station in Burlington, Vermont. Ice cream cone in hand I experienced a milestone of the then nascent, but now maturing worldwide social enterprise movement. Fast forward to today, this spark of messy innovation exemplifies an effective process helping business, social enterprise, corporate governance and public policy accelerate climate success by transitioning to a low-carbon but “values driven” economy by 2030. 

      The last 30 days placed Paris firmly in the spotlight. Combined with the just signed Paris Climate Agreement with the preceding recent acts of terrorism forever linked Paris with energy, climate and geopolitical issues. With continued irrefutable evidence of climate change and instability a renewed sense of urgency powers us forward.  
      What first appeared to be an untimely end to the inspiring story of Ben & Jerry's with their buyout by Unilever in 1999 twenty or so years after their birth, planted the seeds for eventual far reaching worldwide change and impacts. Out of their early innovations, a generation later, Certified B-Corporations and Benefit Corporations arose. Two related but different forms of corporate governance forged through the efforts of social enterprise innovators, like minded businesses, and friendly state and regional governments.
      At the heart B-Corp lies a verifiable commitment framework to pursuing positive environmental and social impacts along with economic profits. By so expanding the idea of corporation beyond merely serving stakeholder interests and profits, this movement hold great promise to reshape capitalism in the framework of social enterprise and generational thinking. (see Laws of the Iroquois, article 28, last paragraph).

      At last year's World Economic Forum at Davos15 in Switzerland, Unilever CEO Paul Pohlman, (the parent company of Ben & Jerry's) shared in an interview it was warming to the idea of transitioning to a Benefit Corporation structure.  In fact, he announced Jostein Solheim, CEO of Ben & Jerry's would lead the effort after successfully completing the move to B-Corp in 2012. 
      In fact, according to B-Lab, community member companies are 47% more likely to use renewable on-site energy than other similar sustainable businesses while deeply and positively engaging the local community, improving quality of life, committing to energy conservation and efficiency, social justice and more.  
      If more state, regional and national governments adopted the Benefit Corporation and Certification or similar legislative and policy frameworks for business, doing so would help produce massive change in how business operates the world over. The ripple effect just beginning today may in fifteen years reach waves of change of galvanizing proportions.    

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A triple bottom lined approach to improving energy efficiency in existing commercial buildings

Figure - 1

Some background facts:

      Recently we gave a talk sharing why and how to improve energy efficiency in existing commercial buildings. We relearned in the process how extensive and valuable the existing building retrofit marketplace is. It's "estimated about $960 billion will be spent through 2023 on greening existing built infrastructure." According to the US Green Building Council's latest fact sheet, 61 percent of all building is retrofit construction.
      We also learned somewhat surprisingly, the operation of existing buildings in the US consume almost 42 percent of total energy used on a yearly basis. Almost 6 percent additionally goes to building construction and materials for retrofits and new construction. (see figure 2)

A process diagram:

      We created this circular diagram (Figure 1) to show our approach to a values driven design process to develop your minor or major renovation project. We believe in the triple bottomed line power of people, planet and profit to frame your project's purpose, design and development strategies and their implementation.  It's a holistic integrated lens.
Figure - 2
Figure - 3
The Six-Steps of Existing Facility Planning, Design,
Construction and Operation - Stephen M. Frey
      To do this well we recommend you undergo a deliberative process looking closely at your organization's mission, purpose and core values laid against your project's needs. We also think its critical to engage your work community, board of directors, customers and suppliers as well in these conversations. Doing so will build positive organizational engagement at all levels along with your stakeholder community.

Generational thinking and the six-steps:

      We also believe in generational thinking where it's important to consider the needs of generations to follow in the actions we take today.
 "Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground the unborn of the future Nation."

       Take this generational thinking mindset with you as you engage in the six steps leading you and your community through the design, engineering, building and operations process. Doing so will prove valuable to your business, your community.  
      Within the day to day doing of this six-step process make sure to keep reviewing your original project visioning and purpose alignment to your core organizational goals and mission found in Figure 3. Along the way you will find slippage and deviation from those original goals. Sometimes unavoidable, oftentimes they are especially if you have done the earlier deliberative work together.
     Rather than blindly go ahead to design and building new buildings in the years ahead, first consider adaptation, retrofit and reuse of existing buildings as an initial step.  Sometimes looks can be deceiving of those forlorn neglected buildings. Just below the surface lies great bones, textured stories waiting to be revealed, renewed and shared again for the next generation.