Modern Design / Blog

Before and After

Published August 28, 2014 in Education, Historic, Institutional, Modern Design, Staff, Brad Hutchison, Andy Grogan, Charles Roberts, Elizabeth Morgan, Sarah Nolan

It's always good to look back and understand where you started. Here's a glimpse of 79 South Pleasant, showing a side of the building that isn't visible from the street or campus.

79 South Pleasant

Published November 18, 2013 in Historic, Institutional, Modern Design, Staff, Andy Grogan, Charles Roberts

The nearly-complete 79 South Pleasant project is featured on the front page of this morning's Daily Hampshire Gazette. Or, you can read it here.

You can read more about the historic tin ceiling here.

Terracotta Panels at Curtain Wall

Atkinson Building Opens

Published September 4, 2013 in Modern Design, Staff, Ann Marshall

The Atkinson Building, a comprehensive medical office in Amherst, MA, held its grand opening in April. Numerous people who contributed to the project in both small and large ways had a few moments to speak about their roles in bringing Dr. Kate’s vision of a “home for health care” to reality.  The center houses not only Dr. Kate’s offices but other professionals that will work in concert with her to bring holistic care to her patients.

This building has a number of unique features for a medical office including: an exercise room and eat-in kitchen for employees, a meeting space where seminars on health issues and/or exercise classes will be held for the community, exam rooms with window seats for patients to relax on, a front porch with swing, and a PV array for generating electricity. Dr. Kate recently emailed, “Our electric bill this past month was negative!”

We wish her many happy years there serving our community.

NEPR Groundbreaking

Published March 22, 2013 in Community, Historic, Modern Design, Staff, Ann Marshall, Jonathan Salvon, Sarah Nolan

NEPR hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking for the new Springfield studios, and we were there along with Congressman Richard Neal, Mayor Dominic Sarno, and NEPR staff.  More information here.

Designed for Habitat

Published August 24, 2012 in Community, Modern Design, Pro Bono, Staff, Charles Roberts, Sustainability

Our collaboration with Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity and Amherst College is featured in a new book, Designed for Habitat.

Salon 241 Gets a Makeover

Published July 25, 2012 in Modern Design, Publications, Retail, Staff, Sarah Nolan

Rachael Chase and Sarah Nolan look back at the thought process that went into their redesign of Salon 241.

With fashion-forward clientele, highly-trained stylists, and a perfect downtown Northampton location, Salon 241 was looking to create an interior space to match their vibrant business. Our simple design approach utilized paint, lighting, and a new window treatment to completely transform the space while maintaining the existing layout and flow that were working well for the salon owners.

The results were so successful that our design was recognized as one of the best in 2012 by Salon Today, winning the Salon of Distinction designation!

By painting the existing acoustic ceiling tile grey, it became a backdrop for the custom gingko leaf graphic we designed to carry across the ceiling and wrap down the walls, activating the ceiling plane and adding movement to the long, narrow space. The graphic, painted by Jonathan Kohrman, also meanders down the stairs to the exterior of the building, inviting clients inside and acting as signage on the street for the second floor salon.

Ginkgo Leaf Patterning

Similarly, the painted faux wood grain on the existing register counter makes it new and graphically bold. Behind the counter, aluminum numbers in the salon's signature font are mounted on the textured brick wall together with the painted ginkgo leaf. The combination of the ginkgo leaf with the salon's font is so successful that it has since been incorporated into their print advertising.

Reception Counter

Energy efficient LED light fixtures replace incandescent track fixtures, drastically reducing the heat level in the space and providing more even light. Decorative pendants draw the eye to the register counter and waiting area. 


A golden thread curtain typically used in the theater provides a screen across the front picture window, casting lines of shadow and light that play across the floor like golden strands of hair. The amount of sunlight entering through the large street-facing window had made working conditions uncomfortable for the salon users, so the curtain serves to modulate the light while creating a very dramatic effect across the wood floors.

Dramatic Curtain

Think Smaller

Published November 7, 2011 in Modern Design, Publications, Staff, Charles Roberts, Sustainability

KRA's Chuck Roberts and Rachael Chase are featured in this month's Preview Massachusetts where they discuss the value of designing and building smaller homes.

Green Tours

Published September 23, 2011 in Institutional, Modern Design, Sustainability

We are excited to be participating in the 2011 NESEA Green Buildings Open House on Saturday, October 1st. Our architects will be leading tours of three of our most sustainable buildings: the UMASS Marching Band Building, New England Environmental's headquarters, and the Ken Burns Wing of the Jerome Leibling Center at Hampshire College.  All three buildings are located in Amherst, MA.

New England Environmental recently achieved LEED Platinum for New Construction, the highest rating available to LEED-certified buildings and a distinction that is shared by only four other buildings in Massachusetts. The recently-completed UMASS Marching Band Building is on-track to achieve LEED Gold certification; the Ken Burns Wing achieved LEED Gold in 2010.

NESEA's Green Buildings Open House is the largest sustainable energy event in the Northeast. For the past 15 years, the GBOH program has inspired thousands of individuals to learn about and implement energy efficient and renewable energy solutions in their buildings. The goal of the GBOH event is to enable participants to see, firsthand, energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements in their communities and motivate them to adopt similar solutions for their own buildings.

Tours will run at varying times between 10am and 4pm on October 1, 2011. More information is available on the NESEA website.

Farm House

Published September 23, 2011 in Modern Design, Staff, Elizabeth Morgan, Unbuilt

KRA's Elizabeth Morgan reflects on the development of a current residential project with a modern-vernacular point-of-view:

With the Farm House project, the orientation of the site and nearby lake called for a linear floor plan.  Views of the lake are toward the north, while the largest source of sunlight is to the south.  Typical of many northern farmhouses, a plan in which each interior living space spans the full width of the house allowed light to be captured from the south, while in this case also allowing views to the north.

The elongation of the open plan began to evoke images of the New England barn, with its singular body and simply gabled roof.  While the form of the project echoes agricultural buildings and farm houses of the region, the detailing and window patterns bring a fresh perspective to the traditional view.  


Perhaps  vernacular  materials of cedar, slate and stone will take shape, or perhaps they will be reinterpreted as metal, steel and concrete.  In any case, when complete, the building hopes to feel as timeless as it does modern. 


Is it Live?  Or it is Revit?

Published August 29, 2011 in Modern Design, Staff, Andy Grogan, John Kuhn

Sometimes, the built project looks so much like the renderings, it's difficult to tell the difference when they're side-by-side.  One of the photos below is the actual project, while the other is an image we produced during the design phase.  Is it live?  Or it is Revit?

More images from the project are available on our website.

We were reminded of the old Memorex commercials from the 1970s and 80s.

The photo on the left is the actual project; the one on the right is the rendering.

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