Founded in 1986, Bialecki Architects is a nationally recognized architectural design firm specializing in sustainable building designs inspired by the history and natural environment of New York’s Hudson River Valley. The principal and founder of the practice, Matthew Bialecki, AIA, has been honored with numerous design awards for his unique architectural designs and pioneering open space conservation strategies.
The firm, originally formed as the Office for Rural Architecture, continues to develop its original regional inspirations into a broader philosophy of site-specific, sustainable design that emphasizes high-performance building technologies.
Bialecki Architects provides Architecture services to the Hudson Valley, including Westchester County, Rockland County, Orange County, Dutchess County, and Columbia County. Matthew Bialecki, AIA, specializes in Historic Restoration, Sustainable Design, Interior Design, Public Buildings, Arts & Crafts Design, and Landscape Planning.
As a recognized leader in the study and interpretation of the American Arts & Crafts movement, Matthew Bialecki has developed an architectural language based on the direct expression of natural materials and forms. BA has incorporated the Arts and Crafts philosophy of self-sufficiency and simplicity into a commitment to buildings that minimize energy usage, utilize natural materials and attempt, at all levels, to help maintain and improve the environment. BA is committed to providing sustainable architectural design of the highest quality. We believe in an architecture that excites, and provokes an appreciation of nature and our environment. Our goal is to inspire our clients to build an architecture that is as beautiful as it is green. An architecture that will inspire and sustain, an architecture that will be treasured and respected by our children.
Realizing highly-crafted, technically advanced buildings takes strong design and management skills. BA has developed an approach to managing design and construction that acknowledges the formidable amount of information involved. BA emphasizes the responsibility of the architect to collect, coordinate and utilize data in order to lead the entire design team. We utilize state of the art computer technology for design, virtual modeling, construction administration and project management, and good old-fashioned client coordination and communication at all stages of project development.
Before committing to a property acquisition or full scale design and construction program, a client may need to broadly explore the feasibility of a project with regard to site selection, building size, construction costs, zoning analysis and completion schedules. Bialecki Architects carries out a practical, focused investigation of pertinent data to determine the physical and economic potential and regulatory viability of a project. Such a study may include basic plan layouts, preliminary cost estimates, and master planning. A thorough feasibility study such as this places the client in a position of knowledge and confidence prior to committing to a full design effort.
Site Analysis and Selection
Bialecki Architects walks the land with the client, analyzing the climate, topography, geology, hydrology, and views, exploring the site’s possibilities and evaluating the landscape for each project.
Before commencing the architectural design phase, BA reviews relevant zoning regulations, exploring the possibilities for building configurations and site improvements based on regulations defining bulk, setbacks, positioning, architectural requirements, environmental requirements, etc.
Often a client wishes to begin construction of only a portion of a project, but requires that all future work be compatible. In these cases, BA develops building and facility Master Plans to guide and coordinate the entire project while making recommendations for phased execution. Master Planning is offered either as a stand-alone service, or as a preliminary step in a full contract for architectural services.
Bialecki Architects provides all the design services associated with architectural projects. These services are based on American Institute of Architects contracts for owners and architects, but are tailored to the specific client and project. BA utilizes the most advanced design tools available to illustrate design concepts and details. Remarkably accurate computer renderings enable clients to clearly visualize and respond to the building before it is built. At BA, the architectural design process follows a series of logical steps that lead the project intuitively from concept to completion. These include Programming, Existing Conditions Analysis, Preliminary Design, Design Development, Construction Documents, Regulatory Approval, Bidding and Negotiation and Construction Administration. (link these words to the appropriate text below)
In addition, BA offers plans (link to plans for sale in primary nav) for select homes from our library of houses. These can be customized to suit your particular needs.
As a first step in the design process Bialecki Architects prepares a comprehensive inventory of a project’s requirements. This Architectural Program incorporates the client’s wishes with regard to major spaces and rooms, critical dimensions, adjacency requirements, and special functions. The Program is supplemented by a qualitative description of building needs. Attention is also given to zoning and other regulatory requirements, including those of the American Disabilities Act.
The completed program results in overall square footages for each floor of the house. Per square foot costs are then applied, creating a preliminary budget that allows the client to tailor his or her wish list early in the project.
Existing Conditions Analysis
For renovations and additions to existing structures, Bialecki Architects begins with surveys and drawings provided by the client or, where these are not available, can produce existing conditions drawings from measurements and photographs of the structure. Surveys are made by consultant teams to confirm the type and condition of systems and materials and, if warranted, probes are made to clarify details of existing construction and compatibility with proposed renovations and additions.
Based on an agreed upon program and budget, several alternative approaches to the project are developed in sketch form. After evaluation with the owner, the most promising concept is completed in schematic terms, illustrating the basic form, relationships, character, and costs. The Preliminary Design phase typically includes site analysis (an evaluation of topography, solar orientation, drainage, vegetation, etc.), utilities & Infrastructure evaluation and planning, landscape planning, and site planning (the layout of driveways, terraces, decks, paths, etc). Preliminary floor plans and elevations are also prepared during this phase.
Based on the approved Preliminary Design, the size and character of the project are fixed as to architectural, structural, mechanical, and electrical systems. A comprehensive response to regulatory requirements including ADA and life safety is developed. Estimated construction costs are refined. As the design becomes more detailed, a 3-dimensional mass model or computerized 3-dimensional rendering is produced to allow the client to more accurately visualize the building. The Design Development phase usually includes preliminary utility/infrastructure plans, foundation design and analysis, and structural design and analysis. During this phase HVAC (Heating, Venting and Air Conditioning) systems are evaluated and selected, as are any sustainable systems and materials to be used in the project. The interior of your new home begins to take shape; preliminary designs of major interior rooms are prepared along with kitchen and bathroom plans and elevations.
During this phase, working drawings and specifications are prepared. These describe in detail all requirements for construction. Documents prepared by consultants such as structural, mechanical, and electrical engineers are coordinated with the architectural drawings. Where necessary, additional professionals are also consulted. These can include landscape, lighting, acoustical, fire protection, and traffic specialists. During this phase, BA will also assist the owner in filing required documents with government agencies for necessary approvals and permits, and the construction cost estimate is finalized. Construction documents typically include a site plan showing the house, garage, driveway and all improvements, a grading plan, foundation plans and details, floor plans of all floors, interior and exterior elevations, structural sections, wall sections and details, framing plans and roof plans. Door and window schedules are also prepared along with electrical fixture and plumbing fixture schedules. During this phase BA also coordinates all shop drawings prepared by consultants or subcontractors with the overall construction documents.
Building Permit and Regulatory Approval
When requested, Bialecki Architects assists the client in working with local building inspectors to secure necessary building permits. Building permit services include a full review of all relevant regulations, completion of the Building Permit application, filing with the Building Inspector, review of drawings with the Building Inspector, and site visits by the Architect to correspond with building inspections.
For complex projects where variances and special permits are required, BA can provide additional services that include submissions to local Planning and Zoning Boards and, where required, to agencies such as the Department of Conservation, the Department of State Coastal Resources Division and other agencies. Regulatory Approval services include preparation of required filing documents such as drawings, calculations, environmental assessment forms, etc., coordination of required consultants such as general contractors, construction managers, engineers, etc., and coordination with officials from local regulatory bodies. BA can also attend Planning Board, Zoning Board, Environmental, and Architectural Review Board meetings and make presentations about the project that increase the client’s chances of being granted necessary approvals.
Contractor Selection / Bidding and Negotiation
BA can assist clients in finding an appropriate contractor and negotiating the construction contract. BA is familiar with a variety of contract options (cost plus lump sum, construction management, etc.) and assists clients in choosing the most appropriate for the project. During the bidding and negotiation phase the client can expect the review of bidding/contract options, preparation of appropriate bid documents, coordination of bidding with prospective contractors, review and evaluation of bids received and award of the contract for construction.
When a client elects to take advantage of BA’s Construction Administration services, BA reviews contractor’s submittals, provide clarification of contract documents, and visits the site at appropriate intervals to check work for compliance with drawings and specifications. These services are provided from construction kick-off through the completion of the final punch list. Typically, the client can anticipate construction inspection once every two weeks, review and certification of contractor’s payment applications, and review and approval of shop drawings. As the project nears completion, BA prepares certification of substantial completion, oversees completion of punch list items, prepares certification of final completion, and finally, secures certification of release of liens.
BA’s approach to the adaptive reuse of historic buildings is defined by an appreciation of the inherent richness and value of historic and culturally significant structures. BA uses a process of analysis and creative design to celebrate the great value these structures bring to our communities. The process of historic restoration incorporates historic research, documentation of existing conditions, a survey of existing conditions, selection of a restoration method and coordination of regulatory requirements.
Research is conducted to locate applicable historic drawings, photographs and written documentation that will assist in restoring the structure to its original state where desirable and practical. At the client’s request, BA can commission a color analysis to determine historic colors at the period of greatest historical significance.
Documentation of Existing Conditions
BA uses available historic and contemporary drawings along with actual field measurements to prepare accurate drawings and illustrative studies summarizing the culturally significant features of the original building as well as changes over time.
Survey of Existing Conditions
Surveys are made by consultant teams to confirm the type and condition of all systems and materials. If warranted, probes are made to clarify details of construction. Samples of deficient building materials may be taken for off-site testing in order to ascertain composition. A graphic and written record of conditions is made, highlighting deficiencies which will impact costs and methods of restoration. Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) standards are generally followed in the preparation of documents for significant structures.
Selection of Restoration Method
Critical components requiring significant restoration efforts are analyzed with regard to alternate restoration and repair strategies. Costs and benefits are weighed in order to develop an appropriate plan and schedule for implementation.
Coordination of Regulatory Requirements
The regulatory goals of land use, historic preservation, life safety, and accessibility legislation do not always mesh easily with older buildings. Contradictory objectives must often be reconciled through an iterative process of analysis and design. BA strives to accommodate new uses and elements without compromising the inherent beauty of the building.
The design of the landscape and communities surrounding our individual buildings is essential for the complete realization of the architectural concept. Bialecki Architects provides services that link structures to the land and the community. BA provides design and planning for historic downtown districts, planned developments, neighborhoods, special districts and extended public facilities.
Bialecki Architects prepares designs of the overall site with a special emphasis on the spatial possibilities of the primary site elements (building, gardens, circulation, etc.). BA emphasizes landscape designs that extend the architectural concept into the site, merging the design directly with nature and its constant changes. Working with landscape architects and horticulturists, BA creates exterior spaces that are alive with nature. Gardens, terraces, pools and landscape structures are designed as a merger of the architecture and the site.
Terraces, walks, walls, waterfronts, gardens and their improvements are all designed as a total aesthetic concept. These elements work directly with the architecture, plantings, and site conditions, to create unique landscape spaces and features.
For urban and suburban developments and large estates involving a range of buildings on larger scale properties, BA prepares plans that address environmental, landscape, transportation, circulation, and utility systems while defining an overall aesthetic concept.
Coordination of Environmental Studies
Where necessary, BA coordinates all facets of an environmental study, including the preparation of a baseline development program for all participants. Schedules and budgets are monitored and completed studies are merged into one or more cohesive documents as is appropriate for the particular approvals required.
Zoning and Land Use Applications
The impact of current zoning on a prospective development site, including building bulk, positioning, and profile is analyzed. Options for changing an existing zoning regulation are explored. Drawings, diagrams, and calculations required for submittal to government agencies for approval of a proposed land use are made.