Giving Back

September 9th, 2010 by Peter Schmelzer

VIVUS Architecture + Design supports our community through volunteering. We track those hours that occur during normal business hours.
We are pleased to report that in each of the last two years, VIVUS staff have contributed over 185 hours to local causes including

  • Rotary International
  • Knights of Columbus
  • Northfield School of Arts and Technology
  • Northfield Enterprise Center
  • Northfield Environmental Quality Commission
  • Northfield Land Use Advisory Group
  • Boy Scouts of America
  • A sincere “Thank You!” to all our clients; you have helped us help Northfield be a better place to live!

    Posted in All Entries, Community Comments Off on Giving Back

    2010 Northfield Area Home Remodeling Tour

    August 4th, 2010 by Peter Schmelzer

    The 2010 Northfield Area Home Remodeling Tour is on Facebook! Check it out!

  • FREE!
  • Self-guided tours of ten recently remodeled homes
  • Kitchens, Landscapes, Basement Finishing, Mudrooms, Screened Porches….
  • Saturday, September 18th 2010
  • 9 AM to 4 PM
  • Maps available for pickup in the Library in Early September 2010
  • This is a great way to get ideas, see beautiful spaces, and learn who can help improve your home locally!

    Posted in All Entries, Community Comments Off on 2010 Northfield Area Home Remodeling Tour

    Owatonna Architecture

    July 2nd, 2010 by Peter Schmelzer

    Owatonna has a great architectural treasure. On a recent visit I stopped here, at the old National Farmer’s Bank Building. Designed in 1908, by Chicago architect Louis Sullivan, this bank has been called the most beautiful bank in the world.

    It is a carefully proportioned building, whose apparent design simplicity is enhanced by terra cotta tiles inside and out. It is a pleasure to view and visit, awash with natural light inside and richly embellished in every detail.

    Tours are available regularly, or you can just drop in during banking hours. Here is a PDF with more details.

    Celebrate American architecture with a visit to Owatonna!

    Posted in All Entries, Community Comments Off on Owatonna Architecture

    Northfield to Minneapolis on the Metro Express

    November 12th, 2009 by Peter Schmelzer

    This week, I’ve taken the Metro Express bus to Minneapolis then home again.

    The occasion is the 75th annual Convention of the Minnesota American Institute of Architects, favored by architects near and far for quality opportunities to learn about current practices, philosophy and materials in the industry.

    Metro Express appealed to me as a supporter of sustainablility and as a guy who would prefer to avoid driving in rush hour traffic.

    It has been a pleasant experience. The driver is polite and conversational, the ride is smooth and continuous, taking just less than an hour to downtown Minneapolis. The walk to the convention center gives me a chance to stroll Nicollet Mall and take in the local architectural vistas.

    At $10 to ride (each way), the cost is very competitive with driving myself ($10 parking per day plus about $11 in gas). After a long day of seminars, it has been very nice to have travel time to process information and unwind instead of pumping the clutch through stop-and-go traffic.

    The departure times work well for all-day events downtown.

    I recommend you give it a try when you get a chance.

    Thank you to the Northfield Transit Initiative for your work in making this bus route an option!

    Posted in All Entries, Community, Sustainability Comments Off on Northfield to Minneapolis on the Metro Express

    Northfield Cohousing Community is Online!

    October 7th, 2009 by Peter Schmelzer

    Check out the latest at!

    Posted in All Entries, Community Comments Off on Northfield Cohousing Community is Online!

    Cohousing in Madison, Wisconsin

    October 7th, 2009 by Peter Schmelzer


    Last weekend, we visited two cohousing developments in Madison, Wisconsin. This photo shows Arboretum Cohousing, a newish community who hosted the Northfield Cohousing Community‘s contingent of visitors. (Thank you, Arbco!)

    I stayed is a guest suite at Arbco. It is part of the “common house”, of which members own an undivided share. The rooms were spacious and clean, and easily accessible to the common house. Gail and Dan gave us a wonderful tour of the facilities and grounds, followed by an informational conversation about startup challenges and a wonderful potluck lunch. I was impressed by their gracious hospitality and relaxed manner, which permeated the place.

    Arbco consists of 40 living units, including six single family homes. Structured parking is provided below the living spaces, which was a nice amenity required by the tight urban site. This combination allows the development to nestle into its neighborhood context nicely.


    We also visited the Village Cohousing Community, just five blocks away from Arbco.

    The village is a bit smaller, with 18 living units, including both existing homes and new townhomes. It was built in the early 1990’s, so Village has had time for landscaping to mature and it, too, blends nicely into the neighborhood. Karen took us through the buildings and shared ideas about how the community handles shared tasks and the like. (Thank you, Karen!)

    The trip to Madison was part of the Northfield Cohousing Community’s effort to research cohousing and to prepare for our development in Northfield. These shared efforts help build relationships and understanding among the members as we prepare to design and build a neighborhood for ourselves.

    Cohousing offers opportunties for a more sustainable lifestyle and a stronger connection to neighbors.

    For more about cohousing, please attend my presentation at Just Food Coop next month:

    5 November 2009: “Cohousing Design”
    Just Food Coop meeting room, 7:00pm to 8:30pm

    You’ll have a chance to meet others interested in cohousing!

    Posted in All Entries, Community, Sustainability Comments Off on Cohousing in Madison, Wisconsin

    Green Roof installed in Rice County, Minnesota

    September 15th, 2009 by Peter Schmelzer

    Green Roof

    The plants are in place on our first residential green roof!

    green roof

    Now in their first season, the seedums are taking root and getting established. A soaker hose is being used to water for now As they fill out, the erosion control mat will become less visible, and the roof will retain more rainwater than it currently does. We estimate that the roof should reduce runoff by 50% a that point; however, other portions of the roof drain onto this roof through downspouts, so we are asking a lot of these plantings!

    The homeowners installed the multi-layered system and planted on top of the rubber membrane provided by the contractor. They blogged about it in two parts: Part One and Part Two. Take a look, they’ve done well in explaining the process.

    Posted in All Entries, Best Practices, Community, Materials, Products + Finishes Comments Off on Green Roof installed in Rice County, Minnesota