The Shell is Standing


| June 9, 2021

In Partnership with industry leading high-performance wall and roof panel manufacturer, Bensonwood, the Balsam is assembled over the course of 3 short days.

Building for the future

So now we had the land, evolving design, commitment to be ambitious, and the right team to throw at it. Getting on the same page regarding the north star of the project wasn’t difficult, even if it took many sessions, both upstate and down.  One thing was clear to us from the start: we are NOT classic developers, meaning our objective cannot be reduced to subdividing land, and then building and selling houses. Sure, we have to do all that, but far more important was the vision. And while we cannot be reduced to classic developers, I think we can be characterized as people who build for the future. 

This is not being presumptuous or precious, in fact it is fundamentally humble.

What are the main ingredients of our vision? Respect for nature and our planet, the only place we have (sorry Jeff and Elon); fundamental belief in circular processes, leaving the place in at least as good a shape as we found it in; optimizing the energy performance of our buildings, one of the main greenhouse gas emitters in the US and globally; and building to the highest quality, ensuring durability, low maintenance and beauty of all we build.  All this rolls up to net-zero energy, carbon-neutral Passive House community: The Catskill Project.

“It’s respect of the environment, and its underlying ecological systems, which drive our design and thought processes.”

Buck Moorhead, Principal Architect & Partner

Building with Bensonwood

Which brings us to our building partner, Bensonwood. Superior insulation and ventilation / indoor air quality are the bedrock of passive house performance. And this is best achieved by a panelized system, meaning the shell of the house, complete with windows and roof, is manufactured off-site, and then trucked in and put up in a matter of a few days. This is why we found ourselves in Keane, NH one day, touring Bensonwood’s ultra high-tech panel factory. Imagine a hangar the size of three football fields, spanking-clean cranes and beeping machines, all nearly fully automated, with the few people present zipping around on electric forklifts. All this translates to an incredibly high quality product and repeatability of the targeted performance, put together year-round, rain or shine.

We left duly impressed and firm in our belief that we found the right partner for such an important part of our houses. The panels were built while we prepared the site and built the foundations of the model home. And in about 6 months we were standing on site in awe and high-fiving each other as beautiful blue panels went up in the space of 3 days or so.  

And now we had a house to finish!

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