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AIA VT, Honor Award

Writer's Retreat
North Bennington, Vermont

The Prospect Street Writer’s House won the AIA VT Honor Award in 2021.  It was the vision of a NYC writer who sought to provide an experience for poets, journalists, novelists and the like to come together regardless of genre or experience. The collaborative format supports interpersonal give-and-take by providing the opportunity for conversations between peers, a celebration of written language and through fostering literary discourse.

Located within an artistic community, the building is sited just steps away from their prestigious liberal arts alma mater. The Owner sought to house their dream within an old Victorian building. Built circa 1850, the building received numerous additions and remodels to fit the ever-changing uses. After being left vacant for many years, the building was neglected, damaged and in need of an intervention.

The final design preserved the original Victorian structure, provided a full renovation of the central portion of the building, and a brand-new addition to the rear of the site. The preserved front of the building keeps the historic trim, corbeling and detailing. Public spaces for conferences, a library and a group cooking and catering kitchen, are located on the main level. On the upper level, private suites are provided. The Owner desired flexibility of the spaces that could support both macro and micro sized collaboration to the extent that the writers creative process can accommodate.

On the exterior, the historic corbeling was replicated and used to tie the Victorian aesthetic in with the more modern central portion of the building. Exterior louvers were provided for passive sustainable shading of the large southernly exposed façade. They also assisted in breaking up the massing of the building.

Materials including doors, trim, and beams were reused and repurposed from the existing structure to provide the spaces with the aesthetic of the historic structure. New materials such as the flooring, slate tile and masonry, were sourced locally in order to provide a minimal environmental impact. 

Sustainable building systems such as the HRVs, water and power equipment were selected with the most efficient models in mind. They also support the future planned conversion to supplemental solar energy, with future PV arrays. HVAC Zoning between the suites and the public spaces provide low energy consumption tailored to the number of occupants at any given time. Separate smart thermostats within each individual’s room provide them with the ability to control their spaces comfort level. The building was super insulated throughout, with R-41 exterior partitions and R-69 roofs.