I am an Architectural & Interior Designer here at NEDC in Boston and as such work directly with many of our clients at the outset and through the design phase of their projects. My role is to personally understand each client’s individual vision for their home and work with them to bring to life a unique interior design they truly love. We aim to cherish the environment and thus design sustainably—producing designs for clients across Cambridge, Somerville, Wayland, Chestnut Hill, Brookline, Back Bay, the South End and throughout the Greater Boston Area.
After each design is conceptualized and taken through full development and planning it is turned over to our artisan build team. This natural flow and organizational pattern embraces the legacy of Architect as Master Builder and allows us the freedom to design with cost in mind, to value engineer, and to design with efficiency and a practical aesthetic in mind—as we in the design team are all builders as well. There is beauty and direct simplicity in the process which I love and feel has true value.
As a bit of background on myself–when I was a boy of 10 or so growing up in New England I was fully in love with Tonka Trucks and knew I was going into the construction field–I just didn’t yet know the precise capacity. It wasn’t long before I began asking for hand tools of my own so I could fix things without needing the help of “specialty” workers. It was a combination of pride in good craftsmanship and developing the personal ability to solve problems.
It seems so simple–I love to solve problems. And I have found there are many different ways to solve the respective problems presented in design and the creation of the built environment. There is always a clear challenge in the process and this is the way I like it.
I became addicted in a sense to the individual experience of the client and how each saw the value in my skills–whatever that skill may be—and how I could use my knowledge and experience to help.
When I was considering being a contractor in Vermont, it became apparent there are far fewer professionals who specialize in individual areas making the contractor a true master of all trades. Clients truly appreciate their problem being solved with sincerity and skill–this could range from landscaping and structural to final finishes. When each area being remedied is addressed with the highest level of understanding and efficiency this makes the client happy and feel safe.
In my experience It can also occur that a client problem is resolved–yet the client experience is painful and lacking in open, transparent communication. A basic human reaction to such an experience of feeling under-serviced and later having a problem resurface is a sense of dismay or betrayal. I observed this in others in specific instances and resolved to personally overdeliver in all that I did. This has been a stable value of mine going forward.
Growing up in a small Vermont town in the Appalachian Mountains where there were a handful of blue-collar contractors, it was easy for them to screw over clients to ensure their business succeeded. It left a sour taste in my mouth that people in search of a safe, healthy, and secure home could be used as a vehicle for a business to manipulate. Put simply it became about money and less about beautiful architecture and problem solving.
At age 15 I made my professional entry into the building industry–as a laborer for my uncle’s construction business. His business model was to buy the land and build the house from start to finish including the earthwork. This was a prime example of the contractor taking responsibility for the entire process. While this was not a design build company it was a near-perfect example of a sole entity owning and being responsible for the entirety of a project from beginning to end. This job taught me every aspect that goes into building an energy efficient home–literally every aspect from roofing and foundations to insulation and drywall.
Out of an affinity for DesignBuild I also picked up on side gigs of building natural field stone rock walls, forging aggressive mtn bike trails, and building custom furniture for clients.
By age 18 I had worked on several homes within this format of building and chose to move into a five-year accelerated Architecture and Art Program. At the school I designed and built a micro house that was a Vermont AIA people’s choice award winning project. (This was done with a team, but I then spent 600+ solo hours completing the build over the summer). From my craftsmanship on this project, I was asked to work on another Micro unit for a firm called LineSync—this time on a cool on-wheels, in-law suite. Through my work here I met a micro home builder who owned Vermod–a net zero home builder. He started his company in response to the devastation of Hurricane Irene and wanted to provide low cost/affordable homes to people who otherwise could not even afford to live in a mobile home or trailer because of the large upfront cost. This idea of Passive House (essentially the gold-standard of eco homes) fascinated me. I then started working for Pill-Maharam Architects where I worked on designs for the same Vermod Company and some mixed-use buildings that were all Passive House Rated.
Through my studies I obtained my Masters in Architecture. I then wanted to get my hands back into the field work portion of the industry and chose to work as a Lead Carpenter for Earthshare Construction–working on another future Net Zero home and dozens of other jobs from custom built-ins to Japanese inspired decks and post and beam hanging yoga systems.
I draw inspiration from the natural environment and the integrated systems within nature. Nature to me can mean literal nature like trees, moss and streams—but could also mean the natural environment for a specific family and understanding their rudimentary need for something and the underlying problem they are facing.
I love what I do and do my best with each client project to produce a design which will exhilarate and uplift generations to come.
(A recent client expressed the following kind words: (Joe & NEDC were) “So in tune with what we had in mind. They made many suggestions we didn’t even realize we wanted till we saw them (and then realized they were exactly right!)”
This is my favorite designer and a beautiful building that flows effortlessly from inside to outside while utilizing the natural materials of the area/site.
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