Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Waitsfield, Vermont offers over 80 hands-on courses per year in design, construction, woodworking, and architectural craft and offers a variety of courses concentrating in sustainable design. Now in its 35th year, Yestermorrow is one of the only design/build schools in the country, teaching both design and construction skills. Our hands-on 1-day to 3-week workshops, certificate programs and semester programs are taught by top architects, builders, and craftspeople from across the country. For people of all ages and experience levels, from novice to professional.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Big Ideas about Small Spaces, by Andreas Stavropoulos

I am pleased to introduce a new course for Yestermorrow Design/Build School. Designing Small Living Spaces is a course that has been years in the making.

The origin of the course lies in the frustration of bigness. Bigness, to borrow the term from Rem Koolhaus, permeates all aspects of American culture. Bigness of portions, bigness of vehicles, and bigness in homes are just a few, and they are leading to bigness of problems. Sadly, bigness begets bigness, and, until now, there were few constraints of just how big that bigness could get. In the last 50 years our culture has been flooded with propaganda equating size with quality, explicitly encouraged by big business and tacitly condoned by the government.

However, of late, there have been many big signs that all is not well in our culture of bigness. The recent big drop in the stock market, as well as the big credit crunch, have given us big cause for concern. Big increases in oil prices and food prices may cause big changes in the way that we fuel ourselves and our transportation. At the same time that we are painfully discovering these limits to bigness, there are a number of rapidly growing small movements afoot. A doubling in the number of farmer's markets over the past 5 years is a big step in the direction of smallness. Big advances in wind power technology and solar are allowing more power to be produced on a local scale.

So when I proposed a class to teach some big ideas about smallness, Yestermorrow was enthusiastic, of course, in a big way.

Designing Small Living Spaces is offered as a week-long course at Yestermorrow as way to demonstrate that quality design can allow us to design, build and get big rewards out of small spaces. In the course, we will look at domestic and international examples of how cultures and individuals have designed small dwellings. Some of the dwellings are iconoclastic while others are miniaturized versions of the white picket fence concept. We'll look at students' individual situations, and generate big ideas on how to solve them. We'll generate small sparks of genius and deliver big doses of encouragement as students work together to apply big ideas to small spaces.

(Andreas X. Stavropoulos is an airstream-dweller, cargo trailer remodeler, tipi aficionado who works by day as a landscape architect to combat bigness by designing small spaces for people in Berkeley, CA)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Yestermorrow Instructor Featured at Longwood Gardens

If life is driving you up a tree this spring, you might take a trip to Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania (visit and check out their treehouse exhibition--three very cool arbor abodes. If you like what you see and want to build one of your own, there is no better place to come than Yestermorrow. In fact, one of the lead builders of the Longwood structures is our very own Eyrich Stauffer. And he and Erik Hegre will teaching a class in Sustainable Treehouse Design and Construction on May 4-11th.

Other Yestermorrowians working on this project include:

Ben Cheney (YM instructor and former intern 2003)
Jay Tarlecki (intern 2006)
Christian Peterson (intern 2005)
Eric Stevens (alumnus)
Dan Wheeler (intern 2007)
Josh Jackson (instructor)
Skip Dewhirst (instructor)

Congratulations to all of you on job well done!

Bob Ferris

Instructor Ben Falk Featured on

Yestermorrow instructor Ben Falk was recently profiled on along with his business Whole Systems Design of Moretown, VT. Falk teaches a variety of courses at Yestermorrow, including Design for Climate Change and Biofuels. Read the full article here. Congratulations Ben!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Let's Face It!

With social networking being all the rage, how could Yestermorrow be left behind? The answer to that question is: We just won't. So now in among the sundry alumni pages featured on Facebook you will now find a Yestermorrow page too.

Visit the page. Sign up and start communicating with your fellow Yestermorrowites (Yestermorrowians?).


Bob Ferris

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Yestermorrow Seeks Campus Master Planning Intern

We have a special opportunity which has recently come to our attention. As you may have heard, we are embarking on the first phase of our expansion plan to build a new shop in the spring of 2009. We have just sent out an RFP to recruit an integrated design/build firm to lead this process. Plus we are still continuing to refine our campus master plan which the folks from the Conway School of Landscape Design helped us with last year.

We are looking for a special Yestermorrow intern to work under the direction of the Building and Grounds committee to help prepare site plans, document our existing conditions, and help with the permitting and planning process. This could count for IDP credits (for architecture students). Ideally we’d like to find someone who can commit to 20 hours/week for 4 months, but could also work with someone for a shorter time period more intensively if it worked better for their schedule. We don't have lodging available on campus but could offer a camping spot or help you find a place in town.
We are still working out some of the details, but if you're interested in learning more about this new opportunity, please email

Here’s the scope of the project as we have defined it so far:
1) Creating a unified format set of plans of the various master plans and visions over the past 10 years.
2) Gathering all current base information, and putting it in uniform format- Survey and topo info, ANR GIS info, soils, hydrology, vegetation. Updating more detailed mapping of the "campground" and other misc structures and gardens, trails, etc. Updated plans of the chalet existing conditions. Updated plans of the school building existing conditions. All official permit plans and Act 250 submission, wastewater and water permitting information, etc.
3) Developing massing, grading, and site layout for the school zone master plan. Developing utilities infrastructure plan for the campus. Develop a base "permaculture plan" for the central green and school zone areas, including locating existing trees and making a plan as to which stay and which go.
4) Develop a soft costs budget, to further planning, engineering, and permitting that will be necessary to make progress with plans.
5) Develop models, plans, CAD models, etc that will be useful in fundraising efforts.
The Campus Master Planning intern will work under the guidance of the Buildings and Grounds committee (which meets approximately bi-weekly) and document the process of the committee.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Go AIA, Go Green

A few years ago I attended my wife's 20-year reunion for a year that she spent overseas in Florence, Italy. This was an arts and architecture year abroad so many attending the event in Venice (CA) were now architects including my wife. As I cruised around the party I talked with many architects and asked them how often their designs included solar panels. As this event was in Southern California, I was surprised that the response was often: We love solar panels and will include them in our designs as long as our clients as for them.
I was a little taken aback. If architects are not aggressively recommending solar panels, who will? While I was going through this, the AIA (American Institute of Architects) was also taking a look at how green building and sustainability were being taught at architecture schools. Their conclusions were similar to mine: more needed to be done in this arena. Architects need to know about sustainability and green building and need to sell it in the same breath that they are selling good design.

My response to this need has been to push our students at Yestermorrow Design/Build School harder and harder as it relates to these important educational threads--and to offer more courses in these areas. And the AIA's response is outlined below. Great move AIA, please let us know how we can help!

CES Sustainability Requirement – NEW!

During the March 2008 AIA National Board of Directors meeting, it was approved that beginning January 1, 2009 the AIA would require all members to complete four (4) hours of sustainable design. These 4 Sustainable Design (SD) hours would be included as part of the current 8 hour / HSW requirement. They are not additional hours to the 18/8 LU hours that the AIA already requires. This requirement would run until 2012, at which time it will be evaluated.
The AIA is currently finalizing the rules of Sustainable Design (SD) Learning Units. During the course of this summer the AIA/CES will be establishing the infrastructure for CES providers to determine, register, and report their future continuing education courses to qualify for Sustainable Design (SD) learning units. These rules will be based upon the following definition.
Sustainable Design (SD) Learning UnitsSustainable design is achieved through an integrated design and delivery process that enhances the natural and built environment by using energy sensibly with a goal toward carbon neutrality, improves air and water quality, protects and preserves water and other resources, and creates environments, communities and buildings that are livable, comfortable, productive, diverse, safe, and provide enduring value to our community and society as a whole.

To qualify as Sustainable Design learning units, the content must meet 4 thresholds:
It must address the AIA definition of sustainability.
It must be a structured (third-party) program (i.e. no self-study).
At least 75% of program content must qualify as HSW.
Its primary purpose must address at least one of the AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Measures of Sustainable Design and Performance Metrics
Examples: Design & Innovation; Regional/Community Design; Land Use & Site Ecology; Bioclimatic Design; Light & Air; Water Cycle; Energy Flows & Energy Future; and Materials & Construction to reduce product-cycle environmental impacts and optimize occupant health and comfort.

If you feel that your CES Provider courses will qualify as Sustainable Design (SD) learning units please plan on providing that information to the AIA/CES Records Center this fall once we announce the procedures. Additional progress reports will be offered in coming issues of the CES Provider Connection as well as the AIA/CES website. NO action is necessary at this time.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Invest in Something Positive

The coming paper flurry known as the economic stimulus checks will tempt many Americans to apply those checks towards the frivolous and ephemeral. We at Yestermorrow would urge all to take a moment and take a breath before casting this "bread" on just any passing waters. Our counsel would be to invest that money in change for the better. So what would that be? How about plunking it down to support your local farmer's market or a non-profit trying to make a difference in your neighborhood or the world (hint: Yestermorrow)? Or how about investing in yourself through taking a class at somewhere that will change your life (hint: Yestermorrow).

This idea of enriching the world or your small chunk of the globe with these funds is catching fire and groups such as Keep it in Vermont ( are full of great ideas of how you can invest these funds locally in a manner that will last much longer than that cashmere sweater or weekend at the spa. Pony up and be the change.