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  Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & News     
          Monthly Newsletter
September 2011
In This Issue


Topic of the Month: A Passive Solar Home Of Their Own

Architectural Firm of the Month: Hays + Ewing Design Studio

Helpful Links for Architects     

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Devonian Stone walkway CAWelcome to the September issue of our newsletter! In each issue we present you with informative articles about the various projects architects and designers are working on around the country. If you have a project you would like to share with us, please contact us and tell us about it. If chosen, we will feature your project in one of our upcoming issues of this newsletter, which goes out to architects and building industry professionals across the country. Click here to find out more about us, or visit us on our Facebook Fan Page.

Architectural Firm of the Month: Hays + Ewing Design Studio
Hays + Ewing Woolen Mills House 1Hays + Ewing Design Studio in Charlottesville, Virginia is an award-winning architecture and planning firm focused on merging elegant design with environmental responsibility. With over twenty years of experience, the firm unites a strong design vision with a deep understanding of green building technologies in commercial, cultural and institutional buildings, eco homes and communities.

Firm co-founders, architects Christopher Hays, AIA and Allison Ewing, AIA, believe sustaining architecture springs from a deep understanding of the place, the needs of the project and the desires of their clients merged with an ecological, cultural and aesthetic intelligence. Founded in 2004, Hays + Ewing Design Studio has focused on the careful integration of buildings with their environment. This focus operates at several levels -- in harmonizing buildings with their surroundings, and in the integration of building and natural systems, such as cooling through natural ventilation, rainwater collection, and harnessing energy from the sun.    

Hays + Ewing Design Studio has worked on projects around the globe and regionally in Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Washington DC and Arizona.

For more information:

Topic of the Month: A Passive Solar Home Of Their Own 

Hays + Ewing Woolen Mills House 2Architects Allison Ewing and Christopher Hays, founders of Hays + Ewing Design Studio, spent the first year of their marriage in different parts of the world, with Ewing studying in Japan and Hays on a Fulbright Scholarship to Venice, Italy. When they returned to their home in Charlottesville, Virginia, they decided to build their own passive solar house that merged both Japanese and European styles of architecture. This is The Woolen Mills House, which they designed in 1998 and are still living in today.

Ewing explains their decision to build their own home and to make it 'green'. "We were very much interested in building our own home, we just didn't see anything in Charlottesville that excited us. Also, my husband had in mind that he would eventually go out on his own so we knew it would be a good thing to have a project that we could take clients to, which was part of the impetus. When we came back to the U.S. after studying abroad, we started working for William McDonough who is at the forefront of sustainability, which was a fairly new thing at the time. He was really one of the first people going out there and speaking about the importance of it, so within that environment we became knowledgeable about sustainability and of course we're committed to its importance. When we decided to build our own house, we were looking to integrate as many of the strategies into the design as we could afford. Some of those are the passive solar aspects."

Passive solar technologies use sunlight without the use of active mechanical systems. This type of design takes advantage of the local climate and uses elements such as window placement and glazing type, thermal insulation, thermal mass, and shading to help regulate heat within the house. Ewing explains, "The house is oriented to take in sunlight for heating when we want it, but shade when we don't. We have trees that do a really great job at shading the house. In the wintertime they drop their leaves and we get the sun, but in the summertime the trees shade the house. That's passive solar. Active solar uses photovoltaic panels, or solar panels, and then there is another type called solar-thermal where you are running water through pipes that are heated by the sun which makes your hot water. We've used that quite a lot on more recent houses, but we didn't do any active solar on our house. So we are on the grid but it's very energy efficient.  Even if you're using solar panels, you always want your house to have really good insulation. We used SIP panels (structural insulated panels) on the exterior walls. They create continuous insulation and that makes a really good tight envelope. We always start with that kind of approach before we even think about doing something like solar panels."

"Our house is angled not on true south because of the street grid. We get more variety of light than we might have had if we had been on true south, but it's a fairly urban setting and the urban design parameters and the solar were a little bit at odds. So we worked with a daylighting consultant who who recommended additional shading for the western sun. That's where the louvers of the trellis developed, and the angle of the louvers is set to September 21st. The louvers are also very much a part of the expression of the house because their spacing aligns with the shiplap joinery so that there's a sense of horizontal tracery that evolves, which is actually kind of a Japanese concept."

Another sustainable strategy Hays and Ewing used is phytoremediation. "We worked with landscape architect Nelson Byrd Woltz to develop a roof where the water from our roof goes into a linear iris rill that then collects and filters the water into a wetland pond. The roots of the plants absorb the pollutants as a way to filter pure water before it gets into the streams or rivers which then eventually feed into Chesapeake Bay."

The wood used throughout the house was also chosen for its environmentally friendly qualities. The beams and columns were reclaimed from an abandoned factory in New York. Certified sustainably harvested wood, in this case from Pennsylvania was also used, which met forest preservation guidelines set forth by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Aside from its passive solar aspects, another distinguishing feature of this home is the design itself. One unique element is a bridge above the entry court that sits within a space that separates two sides of the house. Ewing explains, "We added a bridge for a couple of reasons. One is because we liked the idea that when you enter the house you come into the courtyard and see the landscape beyond, which says our house is all about the landscape. We really wanted that to be the first and primary experience. The bridge is also a place where you go from one side of the house and are suspended in the landscape again before you get to our bedroom on the other side. There is a Japanese concept called 'ma' which means the pregnant void. It's a transition between the two spaces and it functions on a couple of levels. It's a place where the landscape invades the house and it's also a transitional space between the public or active side of the house, and the private side."

Since they built their house, Hays and Ewing have enjoyed living there with their children. Ewing explains, "When I am at home and have a quiet afternoon and I can watch sun and shadow from the louvers moving across the walls and observe the quality of the light, to have that ample daylight invade the space is really lovely. There is a really nice feeling about the house, it's really quite nice. The other thing that was interesting is that two winters ago we had a snowstorm. It was really lovely seeing the trees bow down with the weight of the snow. We had two-to-three feet of snow, which is a lot for us and it all came at one time. The whole landscape transformed. Then we lost our power for about 24 hours, but it was interesting because the house stayed really warm and comfortable which was a nice confirmation that the passive solar is indeed working for us. We're very happy with the house."


Helpful Links for Architects

AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community

The AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community provides leadership and expertise to practitioners of interior architecture and design, working cooperatively with its members and other interiors organizations to address relevant, timely practice issues, markets, and trends, such as licensing, liability, environmental, and technological considerations. Through the Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, important links are maintained with allied professionals, service providers, and manufacturers. If you wish to become a member of the AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, call AIA Member Services at 800-242-3837, or visit: 


Architect Online's Continuing Education Center

Architect Online's Online Continuing Education Center gives professionals a convenient way to earn necessary continuing education credits without having to set foot in a classroom. The courses listed, sponsored by the companies noted, are accessible from anywhere you can establish an online connection. Just register, read the required material, and then take the test, either through a downloadable mail-in form, or free via a secure online connection, depending on the course. You'll be able to maintain your professional credentials, at your pace, and at a location that works for you. Visit: 



Architectural Record Continuing Education Center

Architectural Record magazine has a free Continuing Education Center where architects can earn AIA Continuing Education Credits online. Visit:

Architectural Record Discussion Forums

The McGraw Hill Construction Community, publisher of Architectural Record, has provided architects with a forum to express ideas, opinions, suggestions, and gripes. The discussion forums are open to all, and include topics such as Green Building Projects, Virtual Design, Practice Matters and a forum for younger architects. Visit:

CORA - Congress of Residential Architecture  

CORA is a grass root organization that encourages our members to participate in the dialog of improving residential architecture in a way that suits them best. The purpose of the CORA is to provide a continuing forum for advocating and enhancing residential architecture by all individuals, both professionals and non-professionals, that share a common interest in improving the quality of the homes and communities we live in. Visit:

The Green Meeting Industry Council

The Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) is a non profit 501(c)(6) membership-based organization. Their goal is to encourage collaboration within the meetings industry toward the development of green standards that will improve the environmental performance of meetings and events on a global basis. The GMIC is the only professional green meetings organization that is a member of the Convention Industry Council. For more information visit: 


The World Architecture Community
The World Architecture Community invites all architects to create a free profile on their website. The World Architecture Portal is a unique comprehensive international directory and catalog of contemporary architecture where all architects, scholars and institutions may submit their work and links to share with colleagues from around the world.
For more information visit:

We hope you enjoyed our informative monthly e-newsletter. For questions, comments or more information, please e-mail or call us today.



Liz Benton, Editor 
Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & News
Devonian Stone of New York, Inc.

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