Who is Arielle Schechter, AIA?
Do you really want to know more about me other than the fact that I’m a licensed, registered architect and member of the American Institute of Architects
with an intense passion for Modern, energy-efficient design?
You do? Then have a seat. We’ll talk. And I’ll try to just hit the high spots.
But I’m going to start in the middle.
St. Augustine once wrote, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
Not content to read only one page, I spent a lot of time throughout my years of higher education traveling abroad to Europe, Scandinavia, and Japan, and also domestically throughout Northern California. I wanted to see and experience the arts, crafts, cultures and, well, daily life outside of my “comfort zone” in the South in general and North Carolina in particular. And I discovered a world full of beauty, charm, adventure, and good ideas. I have no doubt that my travel experiences had a profound impact on the person and the architect I would become.
Bottom line: I cast a wider net for inspiration, insight, and innovation when I approach a project than a designer who has only “read one page...”
Now back to the beginning: I was born in Algeria, the land of lush vineyards and olive plantations. But in 1962 when I was only two, my parents fled from the violence of the Algerian war for independence from France and moved our family to Durham, North Carolina, where my mother’s parents lived. Unfortunately, my little family had to live in the basement, which was dark and nearly windowless.
I didn’t know it then, of course, but living in that gloomy basement would make windows, views, and natural daylight extremely important to me as an architect, along with open and flexible floor plans, real connections to the outdoors, natural materials, and clean architectural lines. And when I began studying architecture, those priorities would send me running straight into the outstretched arms of Modernism!
Both of my parents instilled in me a love of the arts. As a result, I admired JS Bach's mathematical complexity, Picasso’s cubism, Martha Graham’s emotional and spiritual choreography, and Igor Stravinsky's rhythmic modernist harmonies. I attended the North Carolina School of the Arts, followed by the Juilliard School of Music (the bassoon was my instrument of choice), then, finally and inevitably, the North Carolina State University School of Design. (Why inevitably? See the “Elephant in the Room”...)
I graduated in 1987 and worked in my father’s firm for several years before going out
on my own to launch Arielle Schechter, AIA, Architect.
My firm is based in Chapel Hill, a picturesque Southern town and the home of
UNC-Chapel Hill, where youthful exuberance blends seamlessly with history and culture.
I also live there with my husband, Arnie, and an assortment of rescued animals
who like to hang out in my work space.
(Question: What happens when you spread out working drawings with a cat around?
If you live with a cat, you know!)
We also live in a Modernist, energy-efficient house I designed that perches
on one of the highest points in Orange County.
Even on an overcast day, we can see all the way to downtown Durham.
(Did I mention our house has a lot of windows?)
Let’s Talk Design
I love design in many forms, sizes, and scopes. That’s why my firm’s services include custom-designed homes that range from small and micro houses to
6000-square-foot residence and family compounds, plus modern interior design, mid-century modern renovations and additions, custom furniture and light fixtures, and landscape design that features native plans and wildlife habitat gardens.
My ideal residential client is anyone who wants a warm, comfortable, and practical Modern, energy-efficient sustainable home with lots of natural light and connections to the outdoors, clean lines, clear volumes, and open plans. Site sensitivity and energy efficiency are imperative, by the way. There is absolutely no reason to design otherwise.
As you may assume by now, my greatest architectural inspiration is daylight in all its differing forms. I’m fascinated by the differences between the colors and intensities of north, south, east, and west light and the interplay of light and shadow. Natural daylight and how it will enhance my clients’ lives in their homes is something I think about all the time.
My Other Hat(s)
When I’m not designing, I’m working with animal rescue organizations, nursing sick rescued animals back to health or
simply providing a foster home for an animal until his or her forever home comes along. I volunteer with
Durham, NC based IAR, or Independent Animal Rescue, to rescue and provide safe and responsible care for homeless,
abandoned, and abused animals. I also volunteer with the NCSU Veterinary School’s Turtle Rescue Team, and there’s
often a convalescing turtle in residence in my home.
And I’m very proud to say that I served on the very first Advisory Council for Triangle Modernist Houses – now North Carolina Modernist Houses – an award-winning non-profit organization dedicated to archiving, preserving, and promoting Modernist residential design from the mid-20th century to today.
I’ll refer you to my “Heroes” Pinterest Board since new heroes appear all the time: Heroes
If you’ve read this far, thank you for listening! I hope we’ll meet someday.