Big Changes!

February 15, 2014

On February 3, I closed the doors of GreenBridge Architects and rejoined DeStefano Architects in Portsmouth, NH as the Manager of the Residential Studio. It’s an exciting time to be returning. The firm is growing their staff and the reach of their work. The residential studio is an exciting place for me to expand and use my knowledge of green design and the changing practice of residential and especially coastal design. I also get the added benefit of working with an amazing team of brilliant architects.

Lisa DeStefano and I have a long history and friendship. I first joined her firm in 2002 when I moved to the area. I worked with her for over 5 years, and learned volumes about the design of fabulous homes, coastal design…and being from the Midwest, I also had a lot to learn about sloping terrain! Throughout my launching GreenBridge and the ups and downs of having my own practice, Lisa has been a steady resource and supporting friend. I treasured her input and learned from her processes. She is one of the cornerstones of my career and I’m thrilled to be working with her again.

A few of my favorite projects from my DeStefano years…

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A major addition and renovation for a family home in Kittery Point, ME.

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A condominium project at a downtown Portsmouth location

And some memorable GreenBridge work:

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An addition for an historic home in Newburyport, MA

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Another addition in Newburyport

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A master suite addition in Kensington, NH

I’ve had a wonderful six years at GreenBridge and have been blessed to have some of the most amazing projects and clients. I’ve loved the process of working with them to make their homes more beautiful and work better for their families. I’ve also made some great friends, both clients and allied professionals. Lisa Kawski, Hilary Ward, Sarah Holden, Holly Gagne and Elena Bachrach were some of those allied professionals I met along the way, who became my friends for life. Thanks guys!!

I hope to continue writing the greenbridge blog. At its origin, the name GreenBridge represented the connection of the architect, clients, designer, builders and systems to build great buildings. This concept continues to define my work, so although the firm will not continue, the greenbridge concept (and blog) will.

I hope that you’ll contact me at my new digs. We’re right next to Starbuck’s in Portsmouth (and within spitting distance of 2 other amazing coffee/pastry shops). When you’re in the area, I’d love to meet you for a quick cup.

Best wishes for a healthy and happy year!

Juli MacDonald. DeStefano Architects. 23 High Street. Portsmouth, NH

603.431.8701. jmacdonald@destefanoarchitects.com

www.destefanoarchitects.com

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Open Studio!

May 29, 2012

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This month has been a milestone for GreenBridge and The Riverview Company.  After almost 5 years of being in business, we have moved into our new studio space! I wanted to give you a tour of our new space and share its history. Our little barn building was built in the late 18th century. When we first moved to our house, this out-building was nearly falling down the hill to its rear and was 11” out of plumb. It was all potential, but my husband Steven and I loved it at first glance.

It’s been nine years and slow going construction-wise, diversions like our toddler, then a new baby, challenging careers, LEGOS… all were in collusion to the barn not getting finished. For the most part I didn’t think about it and have made a small office next to the kids’ bedrooms work. Steven (my husband and business partner) pressed on, slow but steady. Within our first week in the house, he raised the rear of the barn and installed new foundation piers. As time went on, he built out the interior of the first floor for his cabinetry shop and repaired the clapboards and trim on the exterior.

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Steven in his shop.

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He built an amazingly WIDE stair to the second floor space, with careful detailing that gained us a dry storage shed below the stairs.

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They’re also great for hanging out

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Under construction

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Steven and friends added the dormers last fall, which make the space comfortable and roomy, with space for a future bathroom and storage.

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The studio!  This view is toward the PowWow River and the little green bridge

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Future window-seat location

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Steven built a beautiful conference table using salvaged lumber from a 17th century Amesbury Point Shore structure, a piece I will always treasure.

I’m thrilled to be in the space and can now testify more strongly than ever to the power of design. This space, so perfect for me and my work, is conducive to happy production, collaboration and creativity.

For more information or to schedule a visit, feel free to contact me at juli@greenbridgearchitects.com

Best wishes for a wonderful summer!

The Front Door

March 21, 2012

I was so excited to see Denise’s blog this month, Façade Face Lift. I love doors and entryways; we get a strong impression of the building or home from the front door. Entries are your first interaction with your home after being away, or for your visiting guests as they arrive to enjoy your company.

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One of our newest additions in Wellesley and one of my favorites.  Our client loves the special detail of the small overhead light that is activated by a motion-sensor – perfect for key-finding.  Construction by The Riverview Company.

Many homes have entry design challenges that fall under a few categories. Do you recognize your own home in any of these scenarios?

1. Come on in, but please don’t look. Nobody uses the front door, and the back door is ugly and doesn’t work. This item is especially prevalent in older homes built before most everybody had cars. Once most people had cars and garages, the closest door to the drive, often a small back or side door next to the kitchen, became the most used door for the house.

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This was the family and guest main entry, hidden behind the garage. The door is right next to their Eating Area table.

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A new generous entry is in keeping with the rest of this lovely Wellesley home. Our client filled her window boxes as soon as they were finished.  Construction by The Riverview Company.

2. Where’s my right boot? No easy storage at the family’s entry. The word ‘easy’ is important here. If you and/or your family are normal, shoes, coat, keys and purses will be deposited on the first surface available. Thoughtfully designed storage with habits and lifestyles in mind makes a big difference. I like to design hooks and a kick-under bench, but with a closet to shift items as items pile up on the hooks and under/on the bench.

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Taken from the web….but most of us can relate.  except for the mini-well (?)

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For this new basement entry, we added lots of storage with hooks, a closet, open shelving and a lift-top bench.  Construction by The Riverview Company.

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As part of this addition, we created a generous formal entry space with large closets.  Construction by The Riverview Company.

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A small custom built-in with cubbies and a lift-top bench where space was limited.  Construction by The Riverview Company.

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A free-standing storage system can work wonders.  These are from Pottery Barn.

3. Hello? Can’t find the door or don’t know which one to approach. This is one of those challenges that we don’t think of until we have visitors and think about our home from their perspective. If you need to give directions to the door before you have a visitor, this might be an issue for your house.

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You would think you’d go in the middle door in the back, well you don’t.  That would bring you to a tiny space leading to two tiny doors that will take you to the living spaces.  So you can pick from one of the many doors on the ‘L’ which will bring you right into the Kitchen or the Eating Area.

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As part of the renovation and addition, we created a clearly defined entry using  a pergola, lighting and sidelights on either side of the French door.  Construction by Becker Builders.

4. Door in name only. The front formal door is used at Halloween only. Reasons vary – maybe it can’t be seen easily, or it has no character, or other design problems making it uninviting, or common in new construction, there is no walkway leading to it!!

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I wouldn’t trick or treat here!

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We love projects like this – let’s get drawing!!

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The rebuilt entry and porch have rich classical detailing, with inviting lighting, a generous landing with wide steps, AND a new walkway from the drive.  Construction by The Riverview Company.

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This new entry in Georgetown, complete with new garden walls and paving (by UBLA design) was transformative.  Constructed by Meadowview Builders.

If your home has any of these ‘issues’, rest assured, you can make it better. The ideal entry is one where the landscape welcomes and brings you to a protected and well-detailed doorway, and on the interior has generous space and thoughtfully planned storage.  Feel free to contact me if you’d like some assistance with your design plans and estimates of associated costs.

Happy Spring!

Juli MacDonald

GreenBridge Architects

juli@greenbridgearchitects.com

978.518.2811

Historically Green

September 9, 2009

As an architect, I approach any renovation or alteration to historic properties with deep respect for the occupants, designers and builders before me. The fact that historical buildings still exist and are useful is a testimony to their design and construction.   Maintaining and improving these building is the ‘greenest’ construction option – when our work makes or keeps them viable and useful, we aren’t creating waste through demolition, and we aren’t using valuable resources and energy to create a replacement. Most of all, it connects us to our past.

Our family vacation this year was to one of my favorite places, New York’s Hudson River Valley, where there are some of the finest homes in America dating from the early settlers in the 17th century, to the estates of the landed gentry of the 18th century, to the summer mansions of the 19th century moguls of industry. My husband and I have great memories of traveling through the area in years past, sauntering around these historic properties and enjoying the buildings and their histories.  This year was different, with an 8 year old and 4 year old in tow, we had to make concessions to visit the houses: one of us would visit a property while the other would hang out with the kids or watch a movie with them in the car. I was lucky and got to spend the time span of a whole movie on the grounds of the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park.

When visiting grand homes, I love to check out the ‘back-of-the-house’ areas – the kitchen, servant’s quarters, carriage houses, garden buildings. In these areas, I feel more able to see how life was lived on the property, and I am often struck by the attention to detail and craftsmanship found in even the most unimportant of spaces. The Vanderbilt Mansion and grounds have great examples of this type of construction.

These photos are of one of the carriage houses – intricately carved details and masonry are glorious:

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These photos are of one of several small garden structures in the formal gardens:

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It is true that these ultra-wealthy owners could do what they wanted and it was easy for them to spare no expense. But being in these spaces and seeing their beauty, I appreciate that the money was well spent, and that the craftsmen building these masterpieces walked away proud of their creations. 

GreenBridge Architects was honored to be the architect for a renovation and addition to a Newburyport home constructed in 1630.  These last photos are of the just completed project (construction by Henry Becker Construction):

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It was wonderful to see our clients moved in and using the much-improved spaces. The older parts of the home have been restored and freshened-up with careful improvements, and the addition and renovated newer sections of the home work seamlessly with the antique home and with our client’s modern lifestyles. This 17th century home now has a gracious entry foyer, a master bath, a chef’s kitchen, and is super-insulated with energy efficient mechanical systems. We hope that our ‘green’ piece of the home’s history will ensure that it is valued and cared-for for at least another two or three centuries!  If you would like more information on this project or would like to discuss an upcoming project, contact me at juli@greenbridgearchitects.com.

One of the most valuable pieces of GreenBridge’s work is making connections with local suppliers, designers and builders who share our goals – client satisfaction, highest quality of work and sustainable and healthful building practices.  All of these are found in Jewett Farms & Company, who recently opened a studio and showroom at 58 Merrimac Street in Newburyport.  Jewett has a long history of quality work – based in York, Maine, they recently expanded by opening their Newburyport studio.  Jewett Farms has been active in our local SEED Green Building Group, and has even generously offered their beautiful new space for our meetings.

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I met with partners Mike Myers and Elena Ruocco Bachrach recently at their studio and enjoyed seeing their displayed work and discussing their philosophy.  In their custom cabinet ship Jewett Farms specializes in design that is timeless – which is a fundamentally sustainable concept.  “Our goal is that you only need to buy the cabinetry or furniture pieces from us once,”  Myers noted.  “We focus on quality – great design, great materials and great products that last a lifetime.”  I appreciated their dedication to beautiful work – labor-intensive detailing using quality materials, all of which are ‘green’ – no formaldehyde in their components, and low or no VOC in their finishes.  They stand out from other suppliers who offer a ‘green’ product – Mike and Elena are committed to better and greener building and only offer products acceptable to these standards.  They also offer a system of quality control that includes design to finish with a dedicated team and as Mike says, “No Drama”.  (Nice!)

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Check out their website at www.jewettfarms.com, or contact Mike or Elena at 978.222.3110 for a tour of their work.  It’s great to have them local, and we look forward to partnering with them on future work.

Greater Newburyport is going green!  On November 14th and 15th, the 2nd annual Newburyport Green Expo will be held at Nock Middle School.  Attendess of the Green Expo can look forward to a broad range of businesses presenting products, services and information that promote healthier, more sustainable practices to both the business and residential community alike.  The Expo will educate attendees in a family-friendly, non-partisan atmosphere on environmental matters and movements.  See http://www.newburyportchamber.org/green.shtml for more info.

GreenBridge Architects is pleased to be participating in the Green Building Panel on Saturday at 1:00.  We will be joined by George Stroman of TSC Construction, Tim Gould of Energy Egghead, Robert Lafond of Terrene Building Supply, Peter Strattner from the Green Cocoon and Oliver Sheridan of Solarwrights.  Panelists will discuss practical approaches to green building and the options available locally.  They will also review the processes and players critical for construction to be successful in terms of energy efficiency, health of the occupants and impact on the environment.  Join us!