9.14 AIAVT News
Executive Director’s Corner
Making New Architect Acquaintances: My Trip Around Vermont
Vermont Integrated Architecture Joins Forces with Terwilliger
Middlebury-based Vermont Integrated Architecture, P.C. (VIA) has announced that Jean Terwilliger, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP H has joined the firm as a project architect. More...
Board of Architects Proposes “Verification Matrix” for 9-Year Rule ARE Candidates
Executive Director’s Corner
Making New Architect Acquaintances: My Trip Around Vermont
This summer, I had the immense pleasure of traveling around the state to visit AIA members in their office environments. One such visit was with Robert Brown in St. Johnsbury. I’d taken a family vacation at Caspian Lake in Greensboro and on one of the days experienced severe rains. Since our cabin was rustic, without television or internet, and I’d already sped through multiple books, I was itching for a change of scenery. St. Johnsbury is the closest city to Greensboro and I recalled that Robert’s office was there. So, I thought, “Why not visit him before looking around St. J”?
Robert welcomed me into his fabulous digs in the Railroad Street historic district, an area that consists of about six structures built in the latter part of the nineteenth century in a modified Richardson Romanesque style. I observed handsome wood paneled walls, recessed oriel windows, and sat in comfy weathered leather seating to chat in this space where Rob works as a solo practitioner. He was glad to learn that AIAVT’s Public Policy Committee is interested in trying to simplify the life of the Vermont architect in terms of figuring out building codes. He motioned to the thick pile of code books on his worktable and spoke of his frustrations regarding contradictions and exceptions that have arisen on some past projects in the Northeast Kingdom.
My next visits were not as impromptu as the one to Rob’s had been. I’d be traveling to Brattleboro to hang the AIAVT Design Excellence Awards traveling show at the Latchis Theatre. Given the drive length from AIAVT headquarters in Charlotte, I planned to see members along the way there and back.
I must confess that when my family (significant other, Bill, and golden retrievers, Tucker and Reilly) perused the itinerary and noted the hiking and biking possibilities offered, they wanted in! So we strapped the design materials to the roof, a bike to the back, and off my three chauffeurs and I went.
Our first stop was at Robert Carl Williams Associates (RCWA), tucked away off a steep dirt road in the dense woods of Pittsfield, where I met with Craig Wilson and Stephen Fenn, and was introduced to Dan Pratt, the firm’s president and principal. While Robert is retired, the firm’s offices remain in a part of his home (a renovated 150+-year-old farm house) and he still serves as greeter (and guardian!).
Close-ups of moose, bear, and other wildlife often serve as inspiration to the designers at RCWA, who had recently completed a ski lodge perched on a peak at Killington. When I inquired as to whether they might enter it in the AIAVT Design Awards, they explained that the area around the foot print was so limited that they were not yet sure how it could best be photographed. (AIAVT has since provided the firm with information about “drone” photography.) Projects currently in the works at RWCA include: the new First Baptist Church of South Londonderry, a new master plan for The College of St. Joseph campuses in Rutland and Proctor, and various new homes and residential renovations.
Our next stop was in Manchester, where I met with Greg Boshart, who runs Maple Valley Design Build out of a 70s-looking-A-frame structure. When I first walked in, I thought I was at the wrong address—there was debris strewn around and the interior looked like it was under construction. It turns out the “under construction” look was a good sign! Greg explained he and his partner have been fortunate: they have had, and continue to have, a good number of projects.
“We just haven’t found the time to fix up our office,” Greg said. “The design-build aspect of things is strong, and our projects typically take two to eight months for construction, so we jump around a lot. Since residential construction is very personal in nature, we’re finding a lot of traction with clients that appreciate dealing with the same individual from design through construction. There are efficiencies in having the architect as part of the construction crew, which translates to cost savings for clients. Since most of our work centers around additions and renovations, we’re able to take advantage of the many opportunities that present themselves throughout the construction process. The fact that we enjoy being out there 'swinging a hammer' is just icing on the cake.”
After leaving Maple Valley Design, we headed to our friends’ house on Lake Raponda in Wilmington, where we spent the night. The next morning we were on the road to Brattleboro, where I hung the Design Awards show with semi-retired architect Charles Bergman and Linesync Architecture designer Adam Lemire. After finishing up at the Latchis, I headed north to Chester with “my entourage,” to visit Claudio Veliz.
When I sat down in Claudio’s office in a restored yellow clapboard dwelling we had an immediate rapport; it turned out we had both lived in New York City during the late 1980s—and had lived to tell our tales! After turning to work-related talk, it was clear that Claudio was buzzing with anticipation. He had been one of just seven architects from around the world asked to compete for a place on a two-person panel to design an eco-ski resort in Hokkaido, Japan and was expecting to learn the outcome any day soon.
“The proposals for this resort that is to have no lifts or trails had consisted solely of pure pad and pencil concept sketches. Doing those—it’s a passion,” he said. Since my visit, Claudio learned that he had earned a seat on the panel. Read more about his concept inspired by a ryokan—a rural Japanese inn dating back to the 1600s—and what so impressed the judges about it: http://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/architecture/Category?oid=2125926
Our next destination was Woodstock, to the office of Ertel Associates Architects, where I met with Michael Ertel and Chris Miller and noted the photograph of a stunning residential project that had received an AIA New England award several years ago. I asked Michael Ertel why the firm had not entered any projects in the AIAVT awards recently. He said, “The projects we’re getting these days aren’t the kinds that win awards. The new home and especially the second home markets have virtually dried up. We’re doing additions, renovations, and some new traditional homes—not contemporary projects that really challenge our imaginations.”
This sentiment of Michael’s had been expressed by others earlier on my trip—that Vermont architects had needed to broaden their bases in the last few years to survive, by doing work in new categories, shifting the balance among various categories from what it had been historically for their firms, and/or doing more renovations. On many of the visits I was asked, “How does everyone else seem to be doing?”
Tyler Scott, of Scott & Partners, had told me earlier in the year in a phone conversation that he felt the key to his firm succeeding during the recession of the last few years was precisely this mix of project types. “We’ve always had a hand in the institutional, commercial, multifamily, and nonprofit housing markets. When people don’t have much to spend, they may spend on their business, but not on a house. Of course, we were very fortunate to have a growing company, Dealer.com, as a client during the really bad years.”
Not unexpectedly on my visits, I heard comments about the infrequency of AIAVT programs in Southern Vermont. I explained that it saddened me a bit, too, not to be able to see these members more often, but I think the people I visited understood the challenges of having a membership population that is geographically imbalanced, a scarcity of facilities to hold large conferences in more remote areas, and the need to satisfy sponsors with a good attendee turnout.
What did come as a bit of a surprise was to learn that many of these architects were obtaining a large portion of their credits online—both because these were offered at no charge and were easy to fit into their schedules. I had assumed that Southern Vermonters were going to conferences in Boston, New Hampshire, or Western Massachusetts.
In closing, I’d like to say I was very touched by the appreciation that everyone at these firms showed for my visits. Besides being enjoyable, these discussions were useful and I hope to serve all of you better from gaining new understanding. I was also glad to find some firms would steward the AIAVT Archistream to promote architecture in their community and to “ID” some new golfers for the scholarship fund tournament.
Vermont Integrated Architecture Joins Forces with Terwilliger
Middlebury-based Vermont Integrated Architecture, P.C. (VIA) has announced that Jean Terwilliger, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP H has joined the firm as a project architect.
Terwilliger specializes in the design of sustainable buildings, including additions and renovations, using collaborative design methods and cost-effective green building technologies. Her most recent projects include the renovation and restoration of the Trackside Depot in Middlebury, the first LEED Gold rated home in Rutland County, and several Energy Star rated homes.
A graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Terwilliger is licensed in Vermont and New Hampshire. She worked for firms in Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont before starting her own firm in Cornwall in 2003. She is a member of the Cornwall Planning Commission, donated design services for several Addison County Habitat for Humanity Energy Star rated houses, and guided the construction of the new home of the Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society as co-chair of the building committee from 2003-2009.
Terwilliger has been collaborating with VIA part-time since the fall of 2013. Her VIA projects include specification writing and detailing for a 46,000 sq. ft. state office building in St. Albans, overseeing energy efficiency upgrades to Middlebury’s Ilsley Public Library, and a variety of local residential projects.
VIA was established in 2011 by Andrea Murray, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP and Ashar Nelson, AIA, LEED AP. The founders share a vision with their employees to design delightful spaces that benefit communities and their respective environments. Murray said, “Jean’s connection to our community, 20 years of experience with high-performance buildings and sustainability, and overall excellence in design make her a fine addition to the VIA team.”
Board of Architects Proposes “Verification Matrix” for 9-Year Rule ARE Candidates
By Barbara Conrey, AIA
The Vermont Board of Architects is, once again, proposing revisions to the administrative rules that affect candidates’ ability to apply to sit for the Architecture Registration Exam (ARE) under the state’s “9-year rule.” (The 9-year rule is a path to licensure via a combination of internship and education, rather than through a NAAB-accredited degree). A public meeting inviting comments about the proposed changes is being held on Monday, October 6, 2014 at 10:00 AM at the Board’s office on 89 Main Street, 3rd Floor, in Montpelier, per the Board’s August 15, 2014 letter to all licensees.
In a May 5, 2014 letter to a smaller group—including me as I’ve spoken at previous meetings regarding the 9-year rule—Vermont Board of Architects Chair Jennifer Arbuckle stated: “We are not proposing restrictions or a fundamental change to the rule, but we are pursuing a method for objectively describing and verifying the experience gained during that 9+ year period—and a way to give candidates a description of the expected level of experience. To that end, we have drafted a “Practical Experience Verification” matrix, which I have attached to this email. This would be available on our website, and referred to in the rules.”
Despite Ms. Arbuckle’s assertion, the proposed changes are indeed significant. The matrix’ suggested requirements go far beyond outlining the “expected level of experience.” The Board is now trying to quantify knowledge completely outside the profession—knowledge which would be more likely acquired as part of a broad liberal arts education in a university setting. In fact, the full title of the matrix is “Diversified Practical Experience & Educational Requirements Table” and is required of 9-year rule candidates in addition to the Intern Development Program.
As I detailed in a response to the Board on July 30, careful consideration of their proposed matrix raises several important questions. Previously, the Administrative Rule required 9-year applicants to submit a verified “Architect Employer Reference” form detailing their diversified practical experience, some of which might be gained through education. Now, with the matrix, the Board has created a much longer form that mixes educational and practical requirements, seemingly in conflict with the intent of Vermont’s licensing statute.
- Since this is a “Diversified Practical Experience & Educational Requirements Table,” shouldn’t all applicants be required to fill it out?
- The minimum course hours listed in the matrix total up to 150 hours (not the 128 hours published in the revised Rule). If a candidate chose to complete the matrix using coursework, even a Master of Architecture graduate wouldn’t reach 150 credits with the additional courses in English composition, basic computer skills, etc. Has the Board applied the matrix to the standard curriculum of an NAAB accredited school?
- The Rule doesn’t mention who would verify these new forms, only that the Board would prescribe the requirements outside the Rule. Why are two people required to verify a candidate’s work? What are their qualifications?
- From my experience as an educator required to assess student abilities, the lack of parallel construction in the matrix’ subheadings is confusing. Many sections don’t appear to relate to a student’s abilities at all, but are more like course headings. For example, under the “Humanities Section,” there are subsection headings that use nouns/subject areas (e.g., "Social Sciences") juxtaposed with subsections in verb form such as “Quantitative Reasoning.”
- Incorporating only the lowest levels of Bloom’s taxonomy, this matrix simultaneously ignores the all-important level of “mastery” that would indicate a candidate’s readiness to take the ARE. To my thinking, if there is to be matrix to determine the expected level of a candidate’s practical abilities, then there are critical knowledge areas that have not been addressed:
- Only one “Ability” requirement (totaling 3 credits) relates to graphic communication skills, under “Technical Documentation." What about the ability to use freehand sketches, presentation graphics, and CAD as tools for design and communication?
- The matrix should include additional “Ability” requirements that address the ability to communicate technical information in written form; ability to communicate architectural information in an oral presentation; and ability to communicate and work effectively within teams.
- Under the “Technical & Building Systems” section, a level of “understanding” is not enough; candidates should know how to “analyze” and “apply” such knowledge.
- In the “Design” section, applicants should have gone beyond the levels of “Understanding ” or “Ability” to the level of “Applying” their knowledge to “Create” something new. They should be able to “Evaluate” between different designs or systems and justify their choices—that’s integral to what architects do.
Finally—the intent of this matrix is clearly not to verify “Practical Experience”—since so little of it concerns practical experience at all. While the Humanities and Social Sciences are important aspects of architectural understanding, this table places too much weight on them. “Humanities” and “History & Theory…” make up 41% of the requirements and Design makes up 33%, while “Technical & Building Systems” (how a building goes together and works!) accounts for only 14% and “Practice” issues make up only 12%. How can it be three times more important for an architect to understand human and social issues than to know how to create a functional building?
At a minimum, such a matrix should demonstrate that our profession values how a building goes together on a par with its design and the societal forces that helped to shape it. To prepare applicants for the real world, we should give much more weight to professional practice, since that will determine how effectively an applicant can deliver architectural services. I urge the Board of Architects to redraft the proposed matrix to better reflect the needed knowledge and abilities of the profession. In fact, a more clearly articulated matrix could be a useful tool for all candidates, to outline the knowledge and experience that they should have to be successful on the ARE and in the practice of architecture.
Barbara Conrey, AIA, is a professor at Vermont Technical College and former chair of the Vermont Board of Architects.
Yestermorrow Offering Discounted Courses to AIA Members
January 23, 2019
A+D Film Series: Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight.
March 20, 2019
Jodie Fielding, AIA received a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Maryland in 1998 and a Masters in Architecture from the University of Michigan in 2002. The early years of her career were spent working in the commercial and the public sector of architecture and interiors. But for over a decade now, her focus has been on design and construction of luxury homes in Aspen, Colorado. As a native Vermonter, Fielding is excited to return to the Green Mountains and practice within the New England vernacular.
Giocondo (Gio) Susini, AIA has been involved in low-rise residential and commercial construction since the age of 13. This passion for building fueled his interest in architecture and his approach to any construction project is met with great enthusiasm. He likes to specialize in green and innovative design and construction. Through his experience at 2morrow Studio LLC in Warren, he is focused on a system-building delivery approach that includes timber frame, insulated concrete forms, SIP, and modular and panelized structures. He is an instructor at Yestermorrow Design/Build School for courses such as "Advanced PreFab" and "Italy Design/Build."
Upon receipt of his Bachelor of Architecture in 2010, Jonathan Saccoccio, AIA, NCARB returned to southern Vermont to pursue his license and continue working in residential construction. His summers of construction work significantly inform his ability to design and deliver projects. Shortly after licensure in 2014, Saccoccio established Workshop 48, a design and construction firm that would bring his career experiences together to benefit singular projects and clients.
In the fall of 2014, he joined Stevens & Associates, where, as Project Architect, he adds his experience and knowledge to projects that range from residential to community planning and commercial works.
His interest in the field focuses on how to merge design concepts with the pragmatism of implementing the ideas. He believes that a practical knowledge of both architecture and construction will produce innovative, effective and enjoyable spaces. He executes this interest through design but also through working in his shop, experimenting with ideas in design and wood-working assembly techniques.
Tara King, Assoc. AIA is currently a job captain at Dore & Whittier Architects, Inc. She has been with the company for five years. In 2009, she graduated with a Masters in Architecture from Norwich University. Previously, she was employed by The Design Group in Warren. She currently resides in Georgia with her husband Patrick, son Anderson, and dog Lucy.
This past August, TruexCullins’ Managing Principal David Epstein, AIA, LEED AP, was a lead presenter at The International School Boards Symposium’s Facility Management Conference held in Bangkok.
Epstein presented a session titled “The ABC’s of Preconstruction Planning,” during which he shared his experience on how best to build a project team and the process that creates a successful facility project.
In a second session, Epstein spoke about sustainability in schools. Specifically, he discussed the integration of sustainable design concepts into a school project utilizing LEED® Green Building Rating Systems.
Epstein writes regularly about school design in his blog Digital Crayon, which provides school superintendents, principals, business managers, and other school stakeholders with a discussion of best-practices on school design. To sign up for Digital Crayon visit www.truexcullins.com/blog/
MorrisSwitzer Awarded Dartmouth-Hitchcock Project
MorrisSwitzer~Environments for Health has been selected to design Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Palliative and Hospice Care Center. Estimated at 21,000 sq. ft., the new facility will include 12 inpatient beds and space for families, staff, educators, and researchers.
Construction is expected to begin September 2015. MorrisSwitzer will be partnering with Tom Mullinax, AIA, the president of Hospice Design Resource, a nationally recognized design firm dedicated to the design of hospice facilities.
MorrisSwitzer Switches to All Solar Electricity
MorrisSwitzer~Environments for Health took a major step in their commitment to sustainability with the installation of AllSun sun-tracker solar panels. A total of five 280 watt/33.6kW solar panels were installed at the company’s Vermont office by AllEarth Renewables. MorrisSwitzer is now offsetting 100% of their electricity usage with solar power.
“As a firm, we are committed to integrating sustainable elements into the buildings we design,” expressed Partner Jill Boardman. “By investing in local solar technology for our Vermont office we reaffirm our dedication to sustainability and continue to strengthen our leadership in responsible and green design.”
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