PLACETAILOR :: Design+Build Innovators
By Rose Brakesman, Master of Architecture Candidate
BAC students. Architects. Designers. Construction Crew. Craftsmen. A Placetailor is someone who works at the firm as well as the firm’s name, and could be all of these at once and more!
Most design+build firms are companies where the architects and designers come up with ideas while the construction crew does the actual building. A Placetailor is both, and combining design work with construction craft gives these designers an edge. They think about the design while they build and refine it, strengthening the design to better suit the people, place, and site through the entire process.
Using innovative technologies and design ideas focused on uber-efficient passive house design, Placetailor also utilizes locally recycled materials whenever possible. One of the Placetailors, and BAC alumnus, Declan Keefe, says, “It’s more sustainable not to build. Since we’re going to build, we’re going to do it the most sustainable way possible.”
Placetailor is attentive to modern comforts, yet they like their designs to be just different enough to “stand-out.” Sometimes they continue the rhythm of the surrounding neighborhood, and sometimes their design clearly states “I’m something new!” yet the energy efficiency of their projects give people another way to look at buildings. Don’t want to pay for heat ever again? Even here in New England? Then Placetailor passive house design is the way to go.
“We’re reducing onsite energy demand by 80-90%, and that’s before the solar panels!”
This fantastic energy efficiency comes from a super-insulated, air-tight building envelope. Certified through a blower test, the requirement to achieve passive house standard is less than 0.6 ACH (air changes per hour). When the tester showed up to Placetailor’s most recently completed project, the Rocksberry House blew his mind. Rocksberry’s ACH was 0.33! Earlier that same day he’d done test on a standard construction house with an air exchange of 5.9 ACH. This standard construction allows air and heat to leave the building through the walls and in gaps around windows, doors and other openings. The air-tight passive house design has a ventilation system that facilitates air exchange, so fresh air comes in but heat does not go out. And in the summer, a passive house is significantly cooler than standard construction, reducing cooling requirements as well.
“When I started working [at Placetailor] I didn’t know anything about building, and I felt like I’d been given a chance I didn’t necessarily deserve. I’ve always had a good work ethic, but I worked harder. Finishing school and running a business was tough.” says Declan Keefe, the current director of Placetailor. The Placetailors have obviously started something people are interested in. While they’ve just finished one project, they are currently working on at least two more.
It’s exciting that BAC students helped start and continue to work at such an innovative and ground-breaking firm. It’s especially great that Placetailor is designing and building here. placetailor.com
“I don’t have to make anything up. We just do awesome things.” One Placetailor says matter-of-factly.