After running the school out of various rented locations each summer for its first ten years, Yestermorrow purchased the Alpen Inn property in Waitsfield—the current location—in 1990. Since then, the campus has evolved as a living and breathing example of the design/build process, demonstrating many of the different techniques and technologies taught in our classes. Originally built as hotel on 38 acres, the site has developed to support the needs of the school, with design studios, woodshop, administrative offices, dormitory lodging, seasonal cabins, outdoor classroom space, kitchen, dining room, library, and an evolving array of unique features designed and built by students.
Initial renovations focused on replacing the building’s systems and creating a super-insulated envelope, with double stud walls and triple-glazed windows. The cabin and camping area followed, providing affordable summer lodging options with small structures created in classes such as Timber Framing, Strawbale, Yurt, and Home Design/Build. 2010 saw the installation of both a 28 kW solar photovoltaic array as well as a solar hot water system to service the kitchen and restroom facilities.
In 2011, demand for programs and a desire to continually enhance the student experience led to thoughts and dreams of facility expansion. Yestermorrow then embarked on a comprehensive master planning process for the whole campus to look ahead at the school’s anticipated growth over the next 25 years. Out of this stakeholder-driven planning process came a plan which allows the school to grow in phases, and eventually to expand to be able to offer four programs simultaneously (currently only two classes are generally offered at a time) in state-of-the-art facilities which demonstrate a commitment to regenerative, net zero design. Over time, plans are to build out additional studio and shop classroom space, year-round dormitories, kitchen, and administrative offices.
2016 will bring the first phase of this expansion plan–upgrading wastewater systems to modern specifications with advanced pre-treatment through constructed wetlands, installing systems to capture and filter storm water so that all water coming out of our campus into the Mad River watershed is clean and free of sediment, and developing driveways for vehicular access and pedestrian pathways. This will lay the groundwork for the construction of the first building in the master plan, a two-story carpentry shop and classroom.
Throughout the fall and winter of 2015-2016 the design team of Bast & Rood Architects will be holding charrettes and planning sessions with members of the Yestermorrow community to gather ideas and input on the first phase of this exciting plan, and the next step in the evolution of this center of hands-on design/build education.