Reflections on Peru: An Architect Working Remotely

A location independent lifestyle is seemingly the antithesis to life as an architect. Unless you’re remote working from a project site, how can an architect logistically run a studio while living thousands of miles away? UK Architect Principal Chris Kennedy’s two week working holiday in Peru is an example of how this can be successfully accomplished. 

We sat down with Chris to find out about what excited him about his trip and how he managed the studio from so far away.


What are your biggest takeaways from your trip?

The terrain throughout the country was really unique and diverse for a country that is not extremely large. We saw so many different things - coastline, desserts, volcanoes (including one actively erupting), Lake Titicaca (which feels like the Mediterranean Sea), really high jagged mountains with snow and glaciers, deep canyons with condors flying above them, high plains (+/- 12,000 ft with lots of llamas and alpacas), amazing indigenous remains (including Machu Picchu), beautiful Spanish colonial buildings, great food, and great people.

On top of all that there is lots of other stuff to see. Peru is really a place to consider going.

Are there design ideas that you saw there that you think would be good to implement in NH?

The Inca stone work was really a technical marvel. They were able to fit stone walls together without any mortar. The joints in the stonework were so tight you could not slide a sheet of paper into the joints.

With all the historic structures throughout the country, they still do not have a fear of the new and modern. The historic buildings in the major cities are mixed in with some of the most interesting contemporary buildings and it all just works. Sometimes in New England we can get challenged by this.

Peruvian people waving hello.JPG

What was your favorite meal?

I had reservations at a restaurant called Central which is #5 on the list of the best restaurants in the world. We had a 9 course meal based on the various altitudes of Peru. It was a singular experience. However, I really have to say that the food throughout Peru is very good.

How did you do work while there? Was it convenient or difficult to manage?

I was able to work on my laptop, using the wifi in my accommodations. I actually spent a few hours on 2 occasions dealing with construction site issues back in Hanover. I was able to do this without any problems.

I also had an international plan added to my phone for the duration of the trip so that I could answer phone calls and texts just as if I was back in the office.

Peru Tour.JPG

Being able to take short working holiday trips like Chris’ Peru adventure is an excellent way to find inspiration to reinvigorate your firms’ work and processes.

The Value of Residential Design Visioning

Do you want to design your dream home or renovate your existing home but feel uncertain about how to engage an architect for your project? Are you hesitant to hire an architect’s services because you think architects are expensive?

Having an architect guide your project will help you make the most of your budget; so that you get the home you desire with no surprise costs at the end. Your architect will know the critical questions to ask in the initial stages of a renovation or new construction that are key to avoiding costly legal, logistical, regulatory, environmental and design problems.

For all the value an architect provides, the architect’s fee is not ‘expensive’. However, we understand that some client budgets just can’t cover the costs for full architectural services. We also understand that some clients have never hired an architect before and aren’t sure what to expect.

For clients that may not be ready for or need full architectural services, we offer our Residential Design Visioning service.

What is Residential Design Visioning?

Residential Design Visioning is an interactive experience offered at a lower cost than full architectural services. It allows you the chance to be involved in the fun of designing your own home and to experience the excitement of achieving your unique vision.

In this four part process, we will conduct a site visit to define potential project elements. We will discuss with you what your needs and wants are for your home. This information informs the two concept design plans that we create for your review and comment.

The next step is to create a full schematic design of your preferred design concept, including floor plans, exterior elevations and 3D view of the exterior. Then you will have two additional review sessions to work with our team to make any final design adjustments.

At the end of this process, you’ll receive the final design package. This package includes: floor plans with basic dimensions, exterior elevations, 3D exterior views from four angles, along with window, door and finish schedules.

You’ll take this design package to a builder or general contractor and they will provide you with a construction cost estimate and then work with you to obtain a building permit. You are welcome to further engage UK Architects for additional limited or full design services, but your design package will have everything you need to get off to a great start with your builder.

We are also open to including your builder in the design visioning process.  This will improve the ability of the builder to understand the important design decisions and ensure that these are respected throughout the construction process.

Want to know more but too busy to read this article? Click here to download your free pdf copy of the Residential Design Visioning process to read later.

Residential Design Visioning Case Studies

Here is a small selection of projects that went through the Residential Design Visioning process:

New Residence in a vineyard in Essex, New York

Essex NY.png

This residence is located in Essex, NY, on the west side of Lake Champlain. Our team made a site visit to explore their property and from there went through a project programming exercise to determine how many and what type of spaces were needed in the home design. We then had two design consultations, each lasting half a day, in order to develop the house design. During these consultations, the owners had direct input with our team on the design of their home.

Once the design consultations were completed and the owners satisfied, our team followed up with online screen sharing sessions to go over final design tweaks. From there, the construction documents were drawn up and delivered to the owners. This project was completed in late fall of 2018. We’re excited to see the finished home!

New Hillside Residence in Woodsville, New Hampshire

Woodsville NH.png

This was a fun project! We were engaged to design a new house on the site of an existing log house with spectacular views looking from New Hampshire towards Vermont. The log house had deteriorated and unfortunately suffered from bad design. The owner had recently retired and now that the house was becoming a full time residence, he needed to do something that better met his needs.

Having not worked with an architect before and needing to understand his options, the Residential Design Visioning process was perfect for his situation. This project was completed in summer of 2018.

Addition to a Residence in Andover, New Hampshire

Andover, New Hampshire.png

This project came to us after the client had worked with 2 other architecture firms. Unfortunately, both of the previous firms were unable to come up with a design that satisfied the client. We listened to her concerns and thoroughly discussed the client’s needs. The most important part of the Residential Design Visioning process is making sure we understand of client’s desires for their home so that we can create design concepts that provide for the spaces they need.

The main challenge on this project was keeping the addition from overwhelming the original cottage. We were able to create a design that the client loved. The use of 3D drawing helped us to accurately show her what her addition would look like before it was built.

New Residence in Lyme, New Hampshire

Lyme NH.png

This project is an example of a client engaging us with the Residential Design Visioning process and then moving beyond the scope of this process to later consult with us in targeted ways. This is a good example of the flexibility of the Residential Design Visioning process.

This house is for a young family on a spectacular site in Lyme, NH. The concept for this home was to create a modern farmhouse. Due to the amazing 270 degree views, we wanted the main space of the home to feel like the family were living in the view.

The design solution to achieve this was to combine a traditional farmhouse form with a totally modern form.  It’s almost as if the modern form was an addition onto the traditional form.

The living room is the modern form and is almost like being in a fishbowl. This space is open, airy, and light-filled. It has a flat roof so that the bedrooms on the second floor of the traditional portion of the house can see out over the modern portion’s roof.  There is also a roof deck accessed from the second floor of the traditional portion.

After completing the Residential Design Visioning process, the client consulted with us in limited and targeted ways. Anytime they thought about modifying the design, they reached out to us for input.

As you can see from these case studies, the Residential Design Visioning process is a flexible alternative to hiring an architect’s full services. At the end of this process, you can choose to continue working with our team to get the full value of an architect’s services but if you do not, you will have what you need to work with a builder or contractor to complete your project. Your builder or general contractor will provide you with a construction cost estimate and work with you to obtain a building permit.

Click here to download your pdf copy of the Residential Design Visioning process.

Want to see this process in action? This article explains in detail each step of this 4-part process:

A Valentine From UK Architects

February 14th is a day to celebrate love of all kinds and this year we want to share with you the things we’re loving this winter.

Co-Principal Sloane Mayor is loving the current residential transformations she’s working on. We have several residential renovations in the office and Sloane always gets super motivated through discussions with clients about discovering the potential of their current spaces.

You’d assume a renovation is about adding more space but sometimes it’s more about redefining what’s already there. And of course we always talk about improving energy efficiency too. Nothing like improving your own space and reducing your impact on the planet at the same time! Sloane and Chris both love getting their hands on a residence and reshaping it into a home our clients will love.

before and after river house.png

What UK Architects Founder and Co-Principal Chris Kennedy loves right now is our big move to a new studio space. Our current studio is a basement office space so we’re all excited for a space with daylight again. Interesting fact: currently 84% of our staff is female, our move into the new space will allow us to add 3 studio dogs, resulting in our staff being 90% female.  Chris finds this transition to a majority female firm in a male dominated profession really exciting.

our new office.png

We’re also feeling the love from you; our supporters, collaborators, and clients. Whenever we get replies to our newsletters, congratulations for a win or a glowing testimonial, it’s confirmation that we are having a positive impact on our community. And that feels really good.

Here’s a small selection of the many wonderful things people have been saying about UK Architects:

 “UK Architects truly is an exemplary project leader.”

Sugar River Mills Redevelopment, LL


“My clients received exactly what they needed and we have been able to proceed with our construction process and documents from here. I applaud you for recognizing and creating this design approach that was clearly a void in the market.”

 -Shane Carter, owner of Ridgeview Construction in Deerfield, NH


“You guys are great. This space is fabulous! ...In essence, this space is fantastic for the school and your design captured the vision and expectations for this space better than I ever could have imagined.”

-Mike Schafer, Head of School Kimball Union Academy Campus Center at Kimball Union Academy


“From the beginning of our process you have taken an integrated approach to our design. Everyone has been involved in a collaborative way in putting together a project that meets our objectives. The team has been sensitive to our desires for a”green” building...Most importantly, the UK team has been great to work with to produce a market that I believe will work for our consumer members.”

 -Terry Appleby, General Manager Hanover Consumer COOP Community Market on Lyme Road in Hanover


UK Architects’ aim is to create lasting value by enhancing the way people live and interact and by contributing to a community’s character and service to its members. To learn more about our services, click here.

Clever Use of Leftover Space

In almost every project there are bits and pieces of un-utilized space. One of the things we enjoy doing in our designs is to find ways to utilize those bits and pieces in a creative and sometimes unexpected way.  

These design solutions are often some of the favorite parts of projects for our clients.

Here is an example of using the space under a staircase to create a unique storage solution. The drawers open by pushing in on the drawer front which then releases a spring loaded opener.  When the drawers are all closed the wall has a clean appearance of matched boards.

We have found that sometimes it is the simple and unique things that that make all the difference in the satisfaction and delight of the clients we work with.

Miller Bicentennial Hall at Kimball Union Academy: A Signature Academic Building - 3 of 3

Part three concludes our case study of Miller Bicentennial Hall. Learn more about UK Architects’ project here.


Adaptive re-use and energy efficiency

Giving new life to an existing resource is an act of sustainability. An original campus plan called for demolition of the Miller Building. Instead, UK Architects took advantage of the building’s solid foundation and repurposed it, thus retaining the embodied energy of the many lives that flowed through its original doors.

Light and air

UK Architects ensured the building’s energy efficiency by improving the thermal envelope with insulation and paying attention to the elements of light and air within and without the building. New, high-efficiency lighting uses less energy, and lighting controls such as occupancy sensors and daylight monitors allow the building to self-monitor its energy use to a degree. Effective air-sealing allows for optimal energy use, and a mechanical system with an extremely high coefficient of performance saves energy. CO2 monitors help control the introduction of fresh air, creating a space with less waste. Natural light was also taken into consideration, such as in atrium-style library reading room.


Beautiful, impressive and practical

Cynthia Howe, Director of Studies and Academic Support, noticed the great care, thoughtfulness and responsiveness of UK Architects. “We faced an enormous challenge to successfully combine our vision of an accessible thriving academic support center for students with the reality of space limitations,” she says. “At every step in the planning process, Chris Kennedy and his staff listened attentively and offered creative options to meet our needs.” Faculty and students alike enjoy the flexibility and beauty of the space. “What a joy it is to work in a facility where function and form are perfectly matched.”

Mike Schafer, Head of School at Kimball Union, sees UK Architects as valuable partners in the school’s campus master planning process. He expresses that UK Architects skillfully enhanced and repurposed the existing Miller Building to honor its historic heritage, while updating it with 21st century amenities and features. He values UK Architects’ understanding of the important relationship of form and function and their ability to work with various end users including faculty, students and administrators, explaining that UK Architects design designs “are at once beautiful, impressive and practical.”




Miller Bicentennial Hall at Kimball Union Academy: A Signature Academic Building - 2 of 3

This is part two of our case study of Miller Bicentennial Hall. Part three will explore aspects of the design that make it sustainable and energy efficient.


Historic sense of place

Kimball Union Academy was founded in 1813, making it one of the oldest private schools in the United States. The school was originally built to prepare young men for the ministry, and has since become a co-educational institution that upholds the values of concern for others and mastery of both academic and leadership skills. The school is located on a hilltop in the upper Connecticut River Valley, and the 1300-acre campus is surrounded by incredible natural views and lush vegetation. A sense of place and community is paramount to the Kimball Union experience. The campus is populated with unique, historic structures, the oldest being the Daniel Kimball barn built c. 1790. The architectural styles of the campus buildings include Federal, Cape Cod, Greek revival, Colonial revival, and Classical revival. Many of the older structures serve as faculty and student housing.


Solid bones

The original Miller Building was built in an era of quality construction.The straightforward, classically-inspired structure was very well-suited to the various functions it served over its first 50 years. With its current updates, the structure is ready to weather the future. Miller Bicentennial Hall currently serves more than twice the number daily occupants than it did before renovation. It has been expanded by an addition, increasing the total area by 20 percent. The mechanical system was replaced and now includes air conditioning, but the building consumes 30 to 40 percent less energy than it did before the renovations.



UK Architects designed this master closet/dressing room in a Norwich, Vermont residence to fit seamlessly into the minimalist design of the home as a whole. By focusing on small design details, we created a peaceful, private dressing room that makes exceptional use of space and light.

A full-height window with frosted glass lets in ample daylight while providing privacy. The windows throughout the rest of the home do not have curtains, and adding window coverings to the full-length window in the master closet would have been out of place with the clean lines of the residence. The window faces a yard where visitors gather, necessitating frosted glass.


The other window in the dressing room is made of clear glass, allowing for additional natural light and views of the yard and trees. The built-in hanging areas and dressers use the space efficiently, and free the bedroom area of clutter.

Check out our other residential design projects for examples of how we work with clients to create homes that reflect their personalities and facilitate how they want to live.


How We Work With Clients Across Long-Distances

Trust and communication: these principles form the bedrock of doing good work. But how do you create a productive relationship without face-to-face meetings? Here at UK Architects, geographic differences don’t get in the way of exceptional design. By keeping current with available technology, we have ensured that the process goes smoothly, regardless of proximity. The strong relationships we build with clients both near and far allow for fruitful virtual meetings and compelling project collaboration.

Collaborative tools through technology

We take a multi-faceted approach to communication when working with long-distance clients. Beyond the basic phone calls, emails and texting, we also implement web-based meetings. Programs such as GoToMeeting and Skype afford the opportunity to virtually meet face-to-face. We share materials through cloud-based file sharing, such as Google Drive; photo sharing applications, such as Flickr; and content sharing platforms, such as Pinterest boards. We can also install a webcam at a project site so that all parties involved are able keep track of progress.

Focused meetings mean enhanced productivity

Technology plays an important role in the design process. Online meetings allow for direct access to our digital tools, creating the opportunity to share design possibilities in both plan and 3D formats. The immediate accessibility of our drawing software during online meetings allows for spontaneous design changes and brainstorming. We utilize ArchiCad software for creating plans, elevations, sections and 3D models. We also scan our freehand sketches, sometimes editing or annotating them in Photoshop or Skitch. We have found that meeting in the virtual realm often creates more focused discussions and better decision tracking – not to mention cost-savings to the client.

While we find great joy in meeting and collaborating in person, we value being flexible with our work and clients. UK Architects has found success in implementing technology to bridge the virtual gap and work efficiently across distances.

Check out some of our successful past projects here, and contact us today to get started on your own!



Residential Design Visioning: The Four-Part Process

The four-part, intensive process of Residential Design Visioning is an interactive experience offered at a lower cost (typically 2.5 - 3.5 percent of construction costs) than full architectural services. It allows you the chance to be involved in the fun of designing your own home and to experience the excitement of achieving your unique vision.


Collaborative Session 1 (daylong, 6-8 hours):

The UK Architects team conducts a site visit in order to define potential project elements. The team discusses with you how you want to live in your home in order to personalize the design, taking into account the scope of the environment. This includes diagramming of the relationship between the parts of the house, site orientation, and the relationship of interior and exterior spaces.

Architectural Design Magic: Following the first session, UK Architects synthesizes the information and develops two concept designs in plan view to share with you

IJtsma Charrette cropped.jpg

Collaborative Session 2 (daylong, 6-8 hours):   

You review concept designs with the design team and make modifications to the designs. Together you develop a preferred concept design in plan view and exterior 3D concepts for the design.

Architectural Design Magic: Following the second session, UK Architects develops a full schematic design of the preferred design concept, including floor plans, exterior elevations and 3D view of the exterior. They send the schematic to you for review and schedule the next session.

Review Meeting 1 (+/- 2 hours):

You meet with the design team either in person or via an online meeting with screen sharing. The team discusses options for modifications and refinements of the schematic design. This is an opportunity to make “live” changes to the drawings and 3D views.

Architectural Design Magic: Following the third session, UK Architects makes appropriate changes to the design scheme. The team shares the revised scheme with you for review and schedule the final session.

Review Meeting 2 (+/- 2 hours):

You meet with the design team either in person or via an online meeting with screen sharing to review the revised design scheme. Minor adjustments following this final meeting are to be expected.

Final Architectural Magic: UK Architects makes the final adjustments to the schematic design and develops the final design package. This package includes: floor plans with basic dimensions, exterior elevations, 3D exterior views from 4 angles, along with window, door and finish schedules.

Next Steps:

Upon completion of the four-part Residential Design Visioning process, your general contractor/builder can review the design package and provide you with a construction cost estimate and then work with you to obtain a building permit. You may choose to further engage UK Architects for additional limited or full design services, but you will have everything you need to get off to a great start with your builder. Shane Carter, owner of Ridgeview Construction in Deerfield, NH, gives a builder’s perspective on the benefits of the Residential Design Visioning service: “My clients received exactly what they needed and we have been able to proceed with our construction process and documents from here. I applaud you for recognizing and creating this design approach that was clearly a void in the market.”

Contact UK Architects today to begin making your dream home a reality.



Productive and Collaborative Office Spaces

A Hybrid Approach to Workspace Design

The oppressive nature of the ubiquitous “cubicle farm” and the noted failures of open office plans beg the question: how can offices retain their collaborative nature yet minimize distractions and preserve privacy? Reverting to traditional closed offices is tempting, but costly. UK Architects finds a more productive, and cost-effective, solution in hybrid office design that balances workplace privacy with a sense of community to foster creativity and collaboration.

A hybrid office space features a diversity of workspaces and offers employees the autonomy to move through the spaces throughout the day depending on their needs. UK Architects focuses on the specific needs of clients, typically including open areas for collaboration, semi-private spaces for smaller groups, and private areas for individual work.

Chris Kennedy, Principal at UK Architects, can relate to the competing demands of a workspace. “There are instances when I need to focus on a task alone,” he explains, “but a lot of the time I want to be aware of what’s happening around me and absorbing information by osmosis.”

Workspace design involves competing elements, such as cost and company culture, that must be balanced. Office spaces typically do not directly generate revenue, so cost is of primary concern in designing and building the space. Open office plans may fit more people per square foot at a lower cost, but employee productivity often decreases without private spaces to independently explore ideas and to hide from the inevitable distractions of the open office. Hybrid offices may have a higher cost per square foot, but the design often has a lower cost per person.

On a recent high-density office space project, UK Architects recommended creating individual, three by five foot office spaces (35 square feet) with three frosted glass panels that could slide partially or fully open, creating the option for visual openness and audio privacy. When the cost of the sliding panels became prohibitive, UK Architects re-imagined the design with one sliding panel and two fixed panels. The new design was more cost-effective for this particular client, but it maintained the element of optional private spaces for the 42 employees in the office.

Given the flexibility of the hybrid office plan, Kennedy finds it is easier for employers to pitch it over a completely open office plan. “In this case, the glass panels really sold it,” he says. “You can tell the staff: the space is still yours, but now it’s really modern and refreshing.” By tailoring the design to the needs of a company’s unique culture, UK Architects creates collaborative spaces that are a major departure from the early days of open office floor plans synonymous with startup companies and Silicon Valley.

According to Kennedy, the shift away from traditional or fully open offices towards hybrid workspaces is exciting. “It’s like moving from the suburbs to the urban center of town.” A hybrid office affords companies the opportunity to implement collaborative, productive spaces that suit the needs of their employees and culture.

Contact UK Architects today to discuss the unique needs of your project.