Location: Perry, N.Y., and Geneva, N.Y.
Partners: Rick Hauser, Ali Yapicioglu; Senior project architect Dave Matthews
Founded: Jan. 2001
Little-known fact: Rick Hauser is also the mayor of Perry, N.Y.
What was the biggest lesson you learned from your project, BARNagain?
Hauser: This was our first design-build residential project. We were the construction managers. It helped assure that we maintained the control over the construction phase to successfully execute the details, like the installation of the reclaimed siding. But we also learned a tremendous amount about the coordination involved, and the importance of assembling the right team. Ultimately, the design-build approach was vital to meeting LEED Platinum standards, and seeing the project through.
What insights from this and other sustainable projects would you share with other professionals?
Our firm's name contains the seeds of our approach. We put nature at the center, as opposed to putting architecture at the center. We aim to amplify the experience of place, and elevate occupants' awareness and appreciation of the environment. We like to think of that as a deep sustainability that tilts toward the qualitative.
What kinds of sustainable solutions are non-negotiable for your firm? What are the baseline standards your firm aims to meet with every project?
We aim to build smaller. This affects everything from material use through energy consumption in perpetuity. The fundamentals of working with natural energy systems is vital in our climate—An earth-sheltered, well-ventilated, properly oriented house can comfortable forego air conditioning. I don't really think of these as "features," but they ultimately determine the effectiveness of any "active" system we employ.
How do you think these types of innovative green solutions, products, and strategies might become standard?
Very few clients—once we have a chance to build a rapport, share the logic and inevitability of the approach, and show them design solutions that meet those criteria—would choose not to embrace these strategies. But then again, clients seek us out for certain reasons, so it may be a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. In general, it seems highly likely that these strategies become more widely adopted over time by those who pause in order to build thoughtfully. But it is not an approach that makes sense or cents for profit-driven residential spec development, which constitutes the bulk of houses that get built. Ultimately, we need to change the market first, in order to change how spec development happens.