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  Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & News     
          Monthly Newsletter
January 2014
In This Issue


Topic of the Month: An Off-Grid Residence in Texas

Architectural Firm of the Month: Forsite Studio

Helpful Links for Architects     

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Devonian Stone patio crop  Welcome to the January issue of our newsletter! Happy New Year! In each issue we present you with interesting and informative articles about the various projects architects and designers are working on around the country. If there is a project you would like to share with us, please feel free to contact us and tell us about it. We might feature your project in one of our upcoming issues of this newsletter. To learn more about our "high-end" cut-to-size Glacier Blue® Devonian Sandstone products, please click here to visit our website.
Architectural Firm of the Month: Forsite Studio


The work of Forsite Studio reflects a clean, modern sensibility infused with handcrafted custom details and a sensitivity to local vernacular. We are particularly interested in promoting sustainable design and construction, which starts with educating our clients on the positive impact to both the environment and the health of the end user. We believe that good design, sustainability, and economy are intrinsically linked. We salvage and reuse materials and structures wherever possible, incorporating and celebrating them in our designs, resulting in buildings of character and personality. Our varied backgrounds in architecture and sculpture inform our designs and shape our approach to each project. With completed work in the United States and abroad, we produce distinctive projects uniquely adapted to their local climate, culture, and context.  
For more Information:

Located on a sixty-acre prairie preserve near Taylor, Texas, Alligator Creek Retreat is a completely off-grid home that produces one-hundred percent of its required power through solar panels and uses collected rainwater for all potable water needs. The residence was designed by architect Ajit Smith of Forsite Studio and was completed in 2012.

Relying upon the elements of nature to make the house a functioning home, Smith had to first look at the site and examine weather conditions before the design process began. Smith explains, "We looked at the average rainfall for the area and took that into consideration when designing the house. One of the things we had been observing was the prevailing breezes. Because it's off grid, we wanted to build the house so it would have as much volume as possible so we looked really closely at the envelope. Then we started looking at where the windows and overhangs were located, to optimize the building's performance first and foremost."

"In this particular project we didn't want the house to be exposed to full sun because we get really hot summers here, so we located the house in a small grove of trees to minimize the amount of sun hitting the surfaces. With the north-south winds in the area, we decided to orient the house east-west. The carport is the only part of the house that is in full sun, so that is where we located the solar panels."

"We elevated the building about six feet off the ground to capture prevailing breezes better. Another reason we did it was because the house sits in a flood plain. Elevating the house turned into a great opportunity because built into the foundation is an 18,000 gallon cistern so the water runs off the roof and then down into the water tank."

There is on-site wastewater management, and SIP (Structural Insulated Panel) roofing. Smith explains, "From an envelope standpoint, we used spray foam installation in all of the walls and also used a SIP roof because it's a super efficient roof system."

The house is naturally ventilated with operable windows that capture prevailing winds for passive cooling and utilizes wood burning stoves for heating. Smith explains, "We designed a two-story volume in part of the house. There are skylights at the top of that which are remote controlled to vent out all the hot air from that space."

Many of the interior and exterior materials that were used were recycled from an old farmhouse in the area. Smith explains, "The majority of the interior and exterior wood finishes on this project came from a turn of the century farmhouse that we bought and deconstructed. The flooring upstairs and a lot of the exterior finishes came from that farmhouse. Some of the metal that wraps part of the carport also came from the roof of the farmhouse."

The use of parts of the farmhouse helped Smith to achieve a design that was a combination of Texas vernacular construction and Japanese architecture. "The client wanted a place with a lot of strong Japanese influence but then we also saw some really strong parallels with Texas vernacular roof lines."

Among many of the unique features of the house is a prayer room in the loft space on the second floor. "We used really low windows in that room. The windows are at floor height and they only go up to about three feet so that when you're seated and meditating, you can look out the windows at the view."

The house took about fourteen months to complete and the client is extremely happy with it.

Helpful Links for Architects

AIA Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN) 

The Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN), a Knowledge Community of The American Institute of Architects, is committed to the promotion of all residential architecture based on architectural content irrespective of style. For more information visit:  

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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