AIA, LEED AP
Ashar is a lifelong Vermonter with over two decades of experience in design and construction. As a Principal Architect at VIA and occasional faculty in the Architectural Studies program at Middlebury College, he is committed to promoting sustainable building designs and innovative construction methods for all his projects. Ashar believes that an integrated design process, representing building users, constructors, estimators, and craftsmen, as well as design professionals, is essential in achieving high-performance buildings.
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Ashar has a Bachelor’s Degree in Art History from Middlebury College and a Master’s Degree in Architecture from the University of Oregon. Ashar worked for many years in the construction industry and in 2011 ended a 12-year stint as an architect at Bread Loaf Corporation where he designed and managed projects both large and small, including the new $34 million Paretsky Student Center at Williams College. Ashar is an excellent manager who prides himself in helping his clients make well-informed decisions about energy and resource use in their buildings. Ashar was also delighted to be a faculty advisor and teach five courses in support of Middlebury’s 2011 and 2013 Solar Decathlon efforts. Ashar believes that an integrated design process, representing building users, constructors, estimators, and craftsmen, as well as design professionals, is essential in achieving high-performance buildings. Ashar is a registered architect in Vermont.
AIA, LEED AP, NCARB
Andrea is an architect, planner, and LEED Accredited Professional who, after 21 years in the field, started Vermont Integrated Architecture with architect Ashar Nelson. Andrea focuses her professional energies on integrating sustainable and healthy design elements and strategies into all her buildings and their relative communities. Andrea teaches Architectural Design and Architecture and the Environment at Middlebury College. In addition, she was the very proud Lead Faculty Advisor to Middlebury’s 2011 and 2013 Solar Decathlon teams.
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Having grown up in Rochester, Vermont, Andrea moved home in 2003 from New York City where she worked on various projects with William McDonough + Partners, Flynn-Stott Architects, and the City of New York. Andrea has a Bachelor Degree in English from Syracuse University and a Bachelor Degree in Architecture from the Pratt Institute. Andrea was on the Board of Directors of AIA Vermont and edited their monthly newsletter for four years, 2003-2007. Andrea currently sits on the Board of Directors of The Bridge School, and formerly served on the board of the Acorn Renewable Energy Co-op. Andrea lectures at conferences throughout Vermont on Integrated Design and Sustainable Design practices. She has published several articles on similar topics and has received numerous awards for her work. Andrea holds registrations in both Vermont and New York.
AIA, NCARB, LEED AP Homes
Vermont architect Jean Terwilliger has been a collaborator of Andrea and Ashar’s for years. She specializes in the design of sustainable buildings, using collaborative design methods and cost-effective green building technologies. Her recent projects include the St. Albans State Office Building, the commercial renovation and energy retrofit of Middlebury’s historic train depot, the first LEED Gold rated home in Rutland County, several Energy Star rated homes, and a wide range of smaller projects throughout Central Vermont.
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A graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Jean is licensed in Vermont and New Hampshire, NCARB certified, with over 20 years of experience and extensive training in sustainable design. She worked for firms in Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Vermont and spent several years raising two children before starting her own firm in 2003. She is a member of the Cornwall Planning Commission, has donated design services for the 2009, 2012, and 2013 Addison County Habitat for Humanity houses, and guided the construction of the new home of the Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society as chair of the building committee from 2003-2009.
Jean gained an interest in design and construction early in life crawling over floor joists and cleaning up nails during the construction of a family cabin in central Wisconsin, and has been exploring architecture ever since. Jean is a member of the American Institute of Architects and the Vermont Green Building Network.
AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, CPHC
Having grown up in a small town in northwestern Pennsylvania, Megan has a keen awareness of the interconnection between the built environment and the natural world. From a very young age, she understood resource dependence and the importance of conservation. Megan also has a passion and contagious enthusiasm for people and their unique stories, teaching, and serving others. These core values led her to pursue a B. Arch at Virginia Tech with a focused interest in resource conservation and materials, building science, and sustainability principles.
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Megan’s passion for giving back is evident both in and out of the office. She actively participates with various community organizations and boards; currently, she is the President of AIA-VT, the co-chair of the Energy and Environment Committee, and the Vermont state advocacy leader and liaison to AIA National COTE.
In addition to her experience with firms in Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, Boston, and Seattle, Megan also led her own small design practice in West Virginia from 2010-2013 where she worked to advance energy efficiency, resource conservation, and the importance of healthy buildings, communities, and landscapes in that coal-focused economy. While practicing in West Virginia, Megan taught two courses, Sustainable Construction and Forest Resource Use, at West Virginia University. She continues to teach today through various community outreach events and at Yestermorrow Design/Build School.
Megan is NCARB certified, a LEED Accredited Professional, a Certified Passive House Consultant, and holds a NY state architectural registration. She and her husband, Joshua, live in South Starksboro with their small munsterlander, Oskar.
Sam is a designer for VIA and a recent Master of Architecture recipient. He is involved in the planning, design, and construction administration of projects. He is interested in the ways in which materials and construction methods can be used to enhance both the quantitative and qualitative performance of the built environment. Sam has construction experience on a wide range of projects.
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Sam learned carpentry building highly efficient single-family homes in Vermont before moving to New York City to supervise the construction of over 75 LEED certified apartments for Habitat For Humanity New York City. During his Master in Architecture training he helped teach classes in drawing and building technology and operate the CNC milling machine. He loves the craft of making and continues to enjoy both building and designing. Sam received his Bachelor’s degree in Studio Art, focusing on Jewelry and furniture design, from Carlton College in Northfield, Minnesota. He received his Master of Architecture degree from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.
Nicholas has come from The Land of the Long White Cloud, Aotearoa, New Zealand to live in The Land of the Green Mountains. He looks forward to expanding his architectural experience in a new environment, while bringing some fresh perspectives to the design table and applying a solid foundation of skills developed over several years of professional practice in his home country.
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Having worked on a wide variety of project types over this time, Nicholas has a broad perspective, but particularly values his experience in single-family dwellings. This type of work brings the reward of seeing at a more personal level how great architectural design can positively influence and even revolutionize the lives and well being of clients. Nicholas views sustainable architectural design as a vital and progressive direction for the world and enjoys the challenge of seeking ever better methods of creating buildings.
After graduating with honors from the Bachelor of Architecture program of Victoria University of Wellington, Nicholas’s first position was in Wanaka NZ, (a place of special significance to him). This formative time instilled values he still regards highly: working closely with clients to develop optimum solutions, and creating buildings that are cohesive and appropriate to their location, environment, and terroir. Before coming to the USA, Nicholas returned to Wanaka to work on a large rural development on a tract of stunning high country land, working closely with the client to create careful and thoughtful responses in a strong yet sensitive landscape.
A sixth generation Vermonter, Jesse was born and raised in Ludlow, VT, where the surrounding environment became paramount to his upbringing. From a young age, Jesse recognized the value of nature, which served as his playground, classroom, and work space.
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This love for the outdoors played a strong role in his early career path, where at the age of 14, he began working in landscaping and property maintenance. After attending a tech school for welding and fabrication, he became fascinated with design process and implementation, leading to the creation of his own business offering services in welding, tree liming, carpentry, and anything in between. Gradually, he extended his services to small design-build jobs, where he completed a number of projects for a wide range of clients. He attended Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont in tandem with his business, earning his Master’s Degree in Architecture in May 2017. These experiences brought him to VIA with a vision to serve, through architecture, the state that has given him so much. He is most interested in design which is community-oriented, respectful of nature, and sustainable in its roots. And in respect to his own roots, Jesse always finds time to enjoy the outdoors through hiking, hunting, fishing, snowboarding, biking, gardening, camping, and photography. At the end of the day, so long as he has his friends, family, nature, and a thirst for design, he will rest easy and know that the next day brings positive vibes and endless opportunities.
Najat was not born in Vermont, but she was raised here in the house her mother built by hand. It wasn’t until recently, though, that Najat realized her passion for architecture and building.
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She has forged her own educational path in architecture, focusing most of her learning in Production. This has included getting her Certificate in Residential Design and Construction from Yestermorrow Design/Build School, night classes, internships, and now her work at VIA. Najat is inspired by residential design and learning how to make clients’ ideas a reality. She is excited to learn more about building science and designing homes from the ground up.
Gwen brings an eclectic background to the office manager position at VIA. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Williams College and a Master of Arts in Landscape Design from The Conway School of Landscape Design in Conway, MA. She cared for tigers, lemurs, and boa constrictors among many other animals while a zookeeper in Millbrook, NY and Bridgeport, CT.
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She cared for dozens of employees as a human resources supervisor for a CT company and managed a farmers’ market for her former town in Connecticut. Now in Vermont, Gwen edits a quarterly newsletter for the town of Weybridge, VT and serves on the award-winning Weybridge Energy Committee. When time permits, she does some landscape design consulting, always encouraging the use of beautiful, native Vermont plantings. Gwen’s passion for sustainable, healthy communities guides her work and her family life as she strives to raise her three daughters to be kind, responsible, engaged citizens.
John was born and raised in Landgrove, Vermont (population 135). He attended Phillips Academy Andover and then Middlebury College, graduating with a degree in English. After a summer at the Career Discovery Architecture Program at Harvard he decided that he was more interested in “hands on building” (translation – he was more interested in being able to ski, bike, and windsurf than he was in going back to school).
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He then spent the next 25 years as a builder. For 10 years he owned a construction company in the Pacific Northwest, and for the last 13 years he owned a woodworking business in southern Vermont that specialized in highly custom cabinetry, furniture, and millwork. VIA has given John the unique opportunity, relatively late in life, to realize his original dream of working in the field of architecture. Skiing and biking (but no longer windsurfing, alas…) still play a large role. John works with us on a project-by-project basis.