company logo 4a
  Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & News     
          Monthly Newsletter
October 2011
In This Issue


Topic of the Month: "Staying Put" by Duo Dickinson

Architectural Firm of the Month: Duo Dickinson, Architect

Helpful Links for Architects     

Join Our Mailing List!


Need Samples? Visit our Sample Request page. 

Find us on Facebook

Devonian Stone Chatham Bars InnWelcome to the October 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: Duo Dickinson, Architect
Duo Dickinson Book CoverBased in Madison, Connecticut, architect Duo Dickinson has been in practice for more than thirty years. He has built over 500 projects in over ten states, with budgets ranging from $5,000 to $5,000,000.

Dickinson graduated from Cornell in 1977 with a Bachelor's degree in Architecture and opened his own architectural practice in 1987. He is licensed in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Texas, Florida, Arizona, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Tennessee.

His work has received more than 30 awards, including the Architectural Record Record House, the Metropolitan Home Met Home Award, and the Connecticut and New York American Institute of Architects design awards. He is the first non-member award-winner of the Society of America Registered Architects' 2009 Special Service Award and is the co-Founder of The Congress of Residential Architecture (CORA), the first national organization of residential designers, which has grown to over twenty chapters and 1,000 members in seven years.

He has written seven books, including "The Small House" and "Expressive Details" for McGraw-Hill, and "The House You Build", published by Taunton Press and as a paperback entitled "House On A Budget". His next book titled "Staying Put", published by Taunton Press, is to be released on November 15th, 2011. He will be doing a book signing at R.J. Julia Independent Booksellers in Madison, CT on November 17th.

For more information visit:

Topic of the Month: "Staying Put" by Duo Dickinson  

Duo Dickinson HouseIn this day and age with the current state of the housing market making it difficult for homeowners to sell their homes and purchase new ones that more closely suit their current needs, architect and author Duo Dickinson has come up with a plan, so to speak. The plan is: renovate, and take as long as you like to do so, working with the house you know and within your budgetary constraints. This is what Dickinson addresses in his forthcoming book titled "Staying Put", to be released November 15th, and homeowners are embracing this very wise and timely advice.

One project featured in the book is a renovation of a house in Greenwich, Connecticut that Dickinson worked on in seven phases over the course of twelve years. Dickinson explains, "It was an interesting project in terms of what the book is advocating in that the homeowners bought the house during the last bust and got an incredibly good price on it, as it was a real ugly duckling.  We designed the outline of the entire project upfront, even though we only did about one third of the total scope of work in the first phase. Then for about twelve years, as money was available, we would do a variety of projects that were pre-planned, but we had to wait for money to do them."

The before and after photos of the house are quite impressive, as they not only demonstrate the enormous transformation of the home, but also show that it retained a cohesive and harmonious design style amidst its massive alterations. One major change was that the front entrance was moved entirely to a different side of the house. Dickinson explains, "It used to be a two family house but we made it into a one family. It was incredibly awkward, so it was very undervalued when they bought it. We did change everything basically, but it took twelve years. The homeowners would have actually been happy had they only been onto phase two or three, which involved major exterior work and making their bedroom habitable. After that, in a way the rest was kind of gravy. They lived in the house full time and had many wonderful dinner parties. Ultimately we pre-planned and we did their master bath, and a little exercise and t.v. room upstairs. They did beautiful cypress floors throughout the whole first floor of the house. We actually got so far into the project by year ten that we realized that even though I hate gutters and would counsel against them, that they really wanted to have gutters because they wanted to have water control, so they spent a great deal of money putting up what I think are some of the nicest gutters ever. They are lead coated copper, beautifully mounted half-round gutters that really do look good. But it took them probably six months to figure out what gutters they wanted, how much could they pay, and who would actually do the installation. That was all during a boom time so they had to carefully wait for the right guy to be available at the right price and they got that done as an afterthought to a much larger ongoing sequence of improvements. It was actually a mid-course correction that you could only know once you've lived in the house for about 8 or 10 years."

The kitchen was the last part of the project. "The homeowners really did spend an amazing amount of time thinking about the design because it was a very awkward existing space and they had very idiosyncratic needs. They really do love having parties where they serve a lot of mixed drinks, so they wanted to have a place where the alcohol was readily available. They also bake, so they wanted to have a baking station. They also wanted a place to cook. So it was really a three-part kitchen in a tiny space and they did pull out all the stops for a very interesting kitchen. It was only because they had the luxury of time, I think it was over one year, maybe a year and a half, that they could get an exceptional kitchen for a much lower cost and with a much more accurate, precise layout for their needs. They probably would have spent more and gotten less had they not had that extended period of time."

When asked how to keep the design in mind when working on a house over the course of a twelve year period, Dickinson explains, "The big thing is clarity, the big thing is really knowing as best you can what ultimately you expect out of the house, and what is possible and what is not possible for the money involved. And a good designer - and I typically advocate architects, but there are many non-architects that are good designers too - a good experienced designer in remodeling and renovation projects should be the first line of reality checking that most homeowners have, both for feasibility but also for cost. The next line and almost more important on one level than the designer is the builder. If you can actually find somebody you can trust to give you straight feedback on the feasibility and cost, based on a thoughtful design, it'll actually facilitate things. This couple had a good builder in the beginning so they got a very well crafted envelope and then individual artisans did the interiors after that, as well as some exterior work too."

The market was completely down when we finished. That was when the owners said they really wanted to divest themselves of the house and since every single aspect of the house had been fully renovated, it fetched a very good number. It was done so thoughtfully and completely that it was in full move-in condition, so somebody would not have to do a single thing to it."

When asked if there is an advantage to taking one's time to fully renovate a house, Dickinson replies, "Always. The more time you can take on any design project, I think, especially involving a house, but the more time you take, the better the project will be and the cheaper it will be. The more you can competitively bid, the more you can discern what you really want and what is really important to you. This helps to limit overspending either in size or in the detailing and finish work that gets done. Conversely though, when you figure out what you really value and what you want, you then can say, you know I really do think I need to spend 'x' amount of dollars on this or that, whether it's a window or a countertop that you really love."

At least seventy different projects are featured in "Staying Put", along with over 300 photographs of many types of houses.  As Dickinson explains, "Different scenarios show in bite-sized chunks areas that you can conceptually consider, do, or not do. The book shows you what the pitfalls and opportunities are for about seven different categories of projects including kitchens, living spaces, connecting to the outside, and home offices. Instead of organizing the book in a typical way of showing the whole project from beginning to end, the way we organized the book was by typical projects, we gave an overview of each one of those types of projects and then did quick vignettes of what those individuated parts could actually teach people to do. We did these individual components so that instead of looking at the entire scenario as some sort of aspirational fantasy, you can look at the photographs, see the before, see the after, and understand how to make them better. It's also about knowing that you don't have to do the entire house, you can do part of the house. That's really the message. The message is that you don't have to do everything all at once. You can do things that are the most important first, and if there are resources later, you can do other things."

"What I think "Staying Put" does as a book is that it says that the same intense desire to have a home that reflects you and serves you is a human desire. It's not a cultural desire, it's not a zeitgeist, and it isn't a fashion. It's actually part of the basic human condition to have a home that you love. Even in these economic times, once some of the fear has been abated, people are coming more and more to realize they can actually do something with the homes that they have. They can't do everything, but they can do something."

"There's been a real paradigm shift in the basis of the way people deal with their homes that's changed, if not permanently, at least for the foreseeable future. A human beings' strong suit is that they adapt, they don't give up, they adapt and move forward and moving forward in this market means looking at what you've got and making it better. That's what the book is all about."  


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.

Copyright Devonian Stone of New York, Inc. 2008. All Rights Reserved. Content may not be copied or reproduced in any way without the written consent of Devonian Stone of New York, Inc.