Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society Meeting House

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Clients Location

Middlebury, VT


10,080 sf

Category Sustainability Features
  • •Net-zero energy goal. The building envelope has high levels of insulation and went through rigorous air-sealing detailing and verification testing. Glazing areas are carefully calibrated and located by modeling. The heating system is wood pellet boiler and the ventilation is provided by an energy recovery system. The roof was appropriately sized to accommodate photovoltaic panels to provide the buildings electricity needs.

  • AIA VT Excellence in Architecture Design – Citation Award

Consultants Photographers

Meeting House Formed by Light

The active Unitarian congregation was looking to create a meeting house that reflected their values, identity, and spirit.  Through a highly reflective, participatory, and open process with the entire congregation, it was decided that the experience of the building must be inspiring, but not in a traditional way, and should not focus on traditional religious forms, icons, or dogma.  It was determined that light would be the guiding principle of the design.  Textures, colors, and forms found in and of the space help to reinforce this aspect.  The white walls, white ceiling, and white textured acoustic treatment of varied types all aid in creating shadows and reflecting the color of the light and the colors found just outside – deep greens in the summer, vibrant autumn colors, and the crisp blues of winter are all visible on the surface of the interior.

This project was completed in two phases: the sanctuary space was finished first, followed by the community room and library almost a decade later.  The complete program includes the sanctuary, meeting, and support spaces on the upper level, and the fellowship hall, library, commercial kitchen, and support spaces on the lower level.

"The design composition fits well with being a spiritual space. They did some smart things with the way they introduced light. There are nice views and nice textures. The project feels like it belongs on the site. I like how it fits into the site with the various materials and planes and windows. It is nested into the landscape, with the surrounding of the tree canopies."

– AIA Vermont Design Awards Jury