Updated: Jan 26, 2022
The architecture firm, Jennifer Lane Architecture & Design launched in August of 2015 at a small desk in a corner of a kitchen on Union Street. As its sole proprietor, I grew up in Brattleboro, Vermont and received my architecture degree at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston. I worked at several New England firms having design input on projects as varied as rooftop office additions at MIT and award-winning biology labs at Holy Cross, to single-family residences, before taking time off to be a stay-at-home mom. It was during this time, in 2006, that I moved back to Vermont with my young family and a desire to set roots in a place that felt right. We were drawn to Waterbury, attracted to its walkable downtown, strong sense of community, and good schools. As a mom with young children, The Children’s Room played a strong role in introducing me to other young families and helping me engage with the larger community.
In 2008, a local friend was persistent in requesting me to dust off my architectural skills so that I could design an addition and renovation to her Randall Street home. That project led to others, and before I knew it, I was fitting architectural work in between kid’s naps and after bedtime stories. In early 2012 a divorce led me to take a job with an architectural firm in Williston, Vermont which proved to be a valuable stepping-stone in giving me the confidence I needed to know I had the skills necessary to be successful as a sole practitioner. This is something I had considered for years.
With a local project lined up and freshly back from a thru-hike of the Long Trail with my daughter in 2015, I registered my business and began working in that very same kitchen corner. Buoyed by a solid portfolio of projects from my early moonlighting work, word got out and the phone began to ring. Local builders were instrumental in referring clients my way in the early days and they have continued to play a role in my business’ success. Two years later it became clear that meeting clients in my dining room wasn’t sustainable; I took the leap when a new office space became available in the newly renovated and converted offices at 11 N. Main Street. In 2018, Perry Hill Partnership, a business venture between locals Jason Wulff and builder Aaron Flint, asked if I would design a new commercial building at 28 Stowe Street, on a lot next to the American Legion. It’s a rare occasion that an architect has an opportunity to design a prominent building in her downtown, steps from her own home, and it has been an honor to be a part of it. Local firm, Joseph Architects, was brought on to provide permitting drawings, allowing me to maintain a balance with my residential work at the time. The project, my largest to date, is nearing completion and will add both retail and business space to the downtown. I designed it with the intent to provide mounting space for art on its exterior as well as to create potential pocket park space between the front of the building and the dry bridge, to engage pedestrians and thus give back to the community that has given me so much.
By the end of 2020, I will have designed over 50 projects, large and small, in and around Waterbury. It’s humbling to know that I’ve been given an opportunity to shape the aesthetic landscape of this area and to make positive impacts on people’s lives. I do so with pride and seriousness in knowing these structures will last long beyond my lifetime and will influence generations to come.
In the 14 years since I first moved here, Waterbury has grown considerably. The town has gone from a two-stoplight town to a six light and one roundabout in that time. My hope is that we can be deliberate and wise and think progressively in how we manage our growth; with a focus on mitigating climate change, and increasing the walkability, and density of our downtown to provide affordable housing, retail, and business opportunities while supporting and maintaining the green spaces, farms, and woods that make Vermont so special.