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, March 30, 2009

A great quote from Vitruvius

Our Board Chair and Instructor Mac Rood recently sent along this great quote from the first century Roman architect Vitruvius in his introduction to The Ten Books of Architecture. I think it articulates well the importance of the design/build approach-- clearly something which is not new, but in fact reflects an ancient practice.

The architect should be equipped with knowledge of many branches of study and varied kinds of learning, for it is by his judgment that all work done by the other arts is put to test. This knowledge is the child of practice and theory. Practice is the continuous and regular exercise of employment where manual work is done with any necessary material according to the design of the drawing. Theory, on the other hand, is the ability to demonstrate and explain the productions of dexterity on the principles of proportion.

It follows, therefore, that architects who have aimed at acquiring manual skill without scholarship have never been able to reach a position of authority to correspond to their pains, while those who relied only upon theories and scholarship were obviously hunting the shadow, not the substance. But those who have a thorough knowledge of both, like men armed at all point, have the sooner attained their object and carried authority with them.

Courses for AIA Sustainable Design Credit

Yestermorrow Design/Build School offers architects an excellent opportunity to take classes to fulfill their AIA requirements. This is an opportune time to build on a firm’s strengths, add to employees’ areas of competence, or fill in gaps in skills. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) requires that all members participate in continuing education, and in 2009 introduced a new requirement of 4 units of Sustainable Design. Yestermorrow is a Registered Continuing Education Systems Provider through the AIA and has been offering courses on the topic of sustainable design for nearly 30 years.

Yestermorrow Design/Build School offers over fifty 1-day, 2-day, 1-week, and 2-week courses that fulfill AIA Continuing Education requirements. AIA members are required to take 18 units of continuing education per year, including 8 units of Health, Safety, and Welfare. Many states also require additional learning units to maintain registration of one’s architecture license.

Some Yestermorrow courses that meet the AIA’s Sustainable Design requirements include Green Development Best Practices, Constructed Wetlands, and Real Time Building Energy Analysis. A full listing of Yestermorrow’s AIA credit courses is available at The AIA Board instituted the requirement for Sustainable Design credits in response to the issue of climate change and the impact of buildings on carbon emissions. The requirement became effective at the beginning of 2009 and extends through 2012.

Founded in 1980, the mission of Yestermorrow is to inspire people to create a better more sustainable world by providing hands-on education that integrates design and craft as a creative interactive process. Yestermorrow is committed to providing educational opportunities for practicing professionals and students in the fields of architecture, environmental design, fine arts, landscape design, engineering, and planning. The School’s goal is to expand the horizons of those already in the design and construction field, and to deepen their understanding of the interrelationships between the design process and the construction process.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Yestermorrow Announces Advisory Board

Five nationally and internationally recognized leaders in architecture, green building, energy and the environment have agreed to serve on Yestermorrow's newly announced Advisory Board.

Bill McDonough - is an internationally renowned designer and one of the primary proponents and shapers of what he and his partners call 'The Next Industrial Revolution.' Mr. McDonough is the founding principal of William McDonough + Partners, an internationally recognized design firm practicing ecologically, socially, and economically intelligent architecture and planning in the U.S. and abroad.

Bill McKibben - is an American environmentalist and writer who frequently writes about global warming, alternative energy, and the risks associated with human genetic engineering. He is the author of The End of Nature, and Deep Economy: the Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. He is a Scholar in Residence at Vermont's Middlebury College and is a leader in the movement to raise awareness about and combat climate change.

Dan Reicher - is the Director of Climate Change and Energy Initiatives for which works to advance policy in the areas of climate change and energy, global poverty, and global health. Dan has been a dedicated public servant, holding the post of Assistant Secretary of Energy for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) from 1997 - 2001, among many other positions with the DOE.

Dave Sellers - is a practicing architect in Warren, VT (Sellers and Co.), and was named as one of the 100 foremost architects in the world by Architectural Digest. Mr. Sellers' body of work includes 46 years of continuous experiments and designs from architecture to industrial design, from town planning to research and teaching. In addition to former teaching positions at Yale and MIT, Dave has been an influential instructor at Yestermorrow for nearly 20 years.

Sylvia Smith - is a Senior Partner at FXFOWLE Architects and directs the firm's Cultural/Educational Studio which has won numerous awards for design excellence. She believes that every project, regardless of type or size, can make an architectural move that empowers it and enlivens the experiences of people who visit or pass by. Her current work includes the redesign of the Lincoln Center public spaces and the expansion of the Juilliard School (with Diller Scofidio + Renfro), the Lion House reconstruction and the Jose E. Serrano Center for Global Conservation, both at the Bronx Zoo.

It's an honor for the School to have such a high caliber of supporters and advisors. You can read their full biographies on our website.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

When I'm not on the clock...

I've been working on a mobile drafting kit that I can take back and forth with me to the studio and the chalet. It started as our shop orientation project and found a life of its own. I entered it into the "Outside of the Box" contest on Check it out if you'd like.

Tim's mobile drafting kit

My next personal project is a rolling tool cart that I can stack all of my individual tool boxes on. I think I'd like to incorporate some beefed up shoji screens as well as some green wood and maybe some turnings. Stay tuned.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Vote for Sprawl Free Vermont

Dear friends of Yestermorrow,

We're partnering with Dave Sellers on a proposal to create a statewide design competition to create fossil fuel free communities. Over the past few years Dave has taught a Yestermorrow course on Sustainable Communities of the Future, and this proposal is a natural outgrowth of that work.

Sprawl Free Vermont is a collaborative organization seeking to unite the rail towns of Vermont under a cohesive design forum to fortify and enrich the ecosystem of environmental and human community. All Vermont public schools, colleges and community groups will be invited to participate in an annual design competition to develop strategies for designing and implementing revised and new configurations for communities that will last for 500 years plus with minimum to zero requirement for fossil fuels to support civic societies that can change and evolve over time. Emphasis will be focused on adjusting and generating new technologies, but maintaining important traditions, artistic integrity and respect for natural and civil interactions between residents, businesses, craft and manufacturing.

The overall goal of Sprawl Free Vermont is to generate interest and awareness of the opportunities and creativity available world wide, regionally, and locally for long-term human settlement that does not invade, damage, limit, exhaust resources, or pollute the planet. Ultimately, Sprawl Free Vermont seeks to recognize creative and inclusive configurations that challenge and inspire future change, yet recognize important, unique aspects of the Vermont cultural and environmental landscape.

You can support this proposal with your vote-- the proposals which receive the most public support will be considered for a $200,000 grant from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.Just click here- it's easy:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What's going on?

The Yestermorrow interns have been busy with various projects and classes around the campus lately, so I thought I'd post what we're all up to.

Will, Tressa and Stephanie spent time in Architectural Woodcarving this past week with Bill Schnute. Bill is a great guy and an amazing wood carver. It was incredible to see people's progress in only one week's instruction. Tressa's fish is a great example of what was accomplished. Zach and Kendall were participating in the NESEA Building Energy Conference in Boston, so I spent the majority of my week fixing broken tools. I'm into that type of thing, so it was fun.

This week, Kendall and Tressa are taking Beginning Furnituremaking, so Stephanie wrangled the remaining three of us and put us to work on gardening preparation: building straw bale cold frames, garden siting and compost area clearing. Now that the snow has left the garden patch, she has a better idea of what she is working with (and up against). Herb planting boxes are next on the list, and we've found some barky slabs that we're planning on using for them.

Tomorrow, we'll head up to Randy Taplin's shop to continue working on the router table we've been redesigning and building with him. Randy has been great in teaching us traditional cabinetry methods and skiing with us on his property. The views up there are out of hand, and our new router table will be almost too nice to use (or abuse) when it's finished.

I'm signed up for Efficiency by Design this weekend and am really looking forward to it. I'm fairly new to building efficiency and this class is purported to be a knowledge bomb that I hope will help Stephanie and me out when we're looking to build our own home one day. I would love it if we could have a home one day that met all of it's own needs and ours without negatively affecting other people and the environment.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Yestermorrow Partners with Green Mountain College on Renewable Energy and EcoDesign program

Starting in the fall of 2009, Green Mountain College in Poultney, VT will offer a certificate program in Renewable Energy and EcoDesign (REED). Undergraduate students at GMC have the opportunity to explore the renewable energy and green building fields through the REED program. It reflects the same characteristics as GMC’s award-winning Environmental Liberal Arts curriculum: the program is field-based and interdisciplinary. GMC has partnered with Yestermorrow Design/Build School and Solar Energy International to provide an external 3-credit practicum to offer REED students real-world technical training in building and alternative energy systems. The program is open to GMC students in any major and is made up of 18 credits of coursework.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Timberframing Part 3: The Raising

In the past two parts of my timberframing primer, I wrote about theory, layout and some joinery. In this post, I'm going to talk a little bit about the raising of the 10 x 8 shed we built (mostly - we didn't get to the rafters). The first thing to know is that raising is a community event. It takes a bit of group strength and coordination to lift hundreds of pounds of hemlock into position safely - our instructors were extremely experienced in handling structures much larger than our shed.

Most all of our joints were too tight and had to be tweaked before they fit well. After one bent's joints were satisfactory, we tilted it into place. Major rules for lifting these beasts are:
  1. One person is in charge and everyone listens to him/her.
  2. Don't lift if you don't have to. (use crowbars and levers when possible)
  3. Don't lift timbers alone. Ever.
I'll wrap up with some photos that tell the rest of the story.


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Permaculture Project Wanted

Interested in a permaculture design for your property, but don't have time to come take our 2-week Permaculture Design Certification course? Here's a great opportunity for you... one of the students in the upcoming class (who also happens to be a Yestermorrow stone masonry instructor) is looking for a project to focus on in our upcoming April Permaculture class.

Dan Bermingham owns a small landscaping company in Huntington, VT focused on organic landcare, stonework, and permaculture design and installation. If you would be interested in working with Dan to design a permaculture landcape for your land at a steep discounted rate, please email Dan at -- the sooner the better! Small Axe Landcare website: