Who is Arielle Schechter, AIA?
Do you really want to know more about me other than the fact that I’m a licensed, registered architect and member of the American Institute of Architects with an intense passion for Modern, energy-efficient design? You do? Then have a seat. We’ll talk. And I’ll try to just hit the high spots. But I’m going to start in the middle. St. Augustine once wrote, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
Not content to read only one page, I spent a lot of time throughout my years of higher education traveling abroad to Europe, Scandinavia, and Japan, and also domestically throughout Northern California. I wanted to see and experience the arts, crafts, cultures and, well, daily life outside of my “comfort zone” in the South in general and North Carolina in particular. And I discovered a world full of beauty, charm, adventure, and good ideas. I have no doubt that my travel experiences had a profound impact on the person and the architect I would become.
Bottom line: I cast a wider net for inspiration, insight, and innovation when I approach a project than a designer who has only “read one page...”
Now back to the beginning: I was born in Algeria, the land of lush vineyards and olive plantations. But in 1962 when I was only two, my parents fled from the violence of the Algerian war for independence from France and moved our family to Durham, North Carolina, where my mother’s parents lived. Unfortunately, my little family had to live in the basement, which was dark and nearly windowless.
I didn’t know it then, of course, but living in that gloomy basement would make windows, views, and natural daylight extremely important to me as an architect, along with open and flexible floor plans, real connections to the outdoors, natural materials, and clean architectural lines. And when I began studying architecture, those priorities would send me running straight into the outstretched arms of Modernism!
Both of my parents instilled in me a love of the arts. As a result, I admired JS Bach's mathematical complexity, Picasso’s cubism, Martha Graham’s emotional and spiritual choreography, and Igor Stravinsky's rhythmic modernist harmonies. I attended the North Carolina School of the Arts, followed by the Juilliard School of Music (the bassoon was my instrument of choice), then, finally and inevitably, the North Carolina State University School of Design. (Why inevitably? See the “Elephant in the Room”...)
I graduated in 1987 and worked in my father’s firm for several years before going out on my own to launch Arielle Schechter, AIA, Architect.