Friends School of Portland Wins AIA Maine Award

Friends School of Portland

Friends School of Portland won an AIA Maine Award for Special Detail Recognition. 

The new school will generate 100% of its own energy on site through only 40kW of photovoltaic panels, reducing future operations costs dramatically and decreasing endowment dependence. As the 3rd Passive House-Certified School in the country, it will attain extreme durability and comfort and a 90% reduction in heating energy use. High-performance building assemblies have been used throughout and mechanical systems have been significantly reduced, as well as the related maintenance costs in this all-electric building.

These far-reaching goals were achieved due in large part to a fully integrated design process, which involved client and consultants meeting together as a team starting very early in the process. Because of clear team feedback, a motivated and invested builder, and an aligned, responsive client, the school was able to be constructed for a modest $195/sf.

Most exposed interior wood was harvested directly from the site, some in lengths of up to 24 feet. This wood runs throughout the school and into the primarily day-lit classrooms. The columns that support the rear entry are preserved trunks of an old oak tree that formerly stood right near that same spot. The Big Room features walls and an undulating ceiling of site-harvested wood, which lifts your eye and spirit toward the sun as it streams through the trees along the creek to the south. A 12-foot wide door opens onto the amphitheater for outdoor performances. A bridge connects the upper level to a playfield to the east.


Photo by David Kurtis.

May 26, 2016

We Have Moved!

We have moved from our old location in the Old Port to a newly renovated space located at:

102 Exchange St., 2nd floor
Portland, ME 04101

All of our other contact information remains the same, so feel free to call or e-mail any time!

Here we are at our first staff meeting in the new space! 

Kaplan Thompson Architects

Dec 21, 2015

New Green Architects' Lounge Podcast

The Green Building Advisor Green Architects' Lounge has posted a new podcast with Phil Kaplan, Chris Briley, and Sonia Barrantes.

This episode assumes that you are preparing to design or build a super-tight house and you're interested in the best way to provide fresh air for its occupants. In the old days, you'd just "let the house breathe," but those days are long gone. A healthy house leaks, while an energy-efficient house controls how it leaks - and this episode is all about the latter.


Sep 1, 2015

Rudy's of the Cape is Open for Business!

Rudy’s of the Cape

After years of planning and building, the new Rudy's of the Cape opened to much fanfare and overwhelmingly positive reviews. We were fortunate to be selected as the architect for this project and appreciated the great care and attention to detail that the owner displayed.

All the effort was well worth it with glowing comments such as:

The re-imagined restaurant fills a bright, contemporary building designed by Kaplan Thompson Architects of Portland, and features an enormous pizza oven inside the front door, a dining room divided into distinct seating areas (including a sun room tricked out with snazzy ceiling fans and a modern cast-iron stove) and seats for about 80 customers. -- Portland Press Herald

The meticulous build out resulted in polished wood interiors with four dining spaces accommodating 80 diners. There's the bar, the communal table, the sun room and the rear dining room with its banquettes along the wall facing scenic Ocean House Road. -- MaineToday

With natural wood furniture and architecture, a bright sun room, and a 27-tap bar along the back wall, the eye is drawn to many places inside Rudy's of the Cape. -- The Forecaster


Jun 15, 2015

See a Video Flyover of Near Merezero

Near Merezero | Kaplan Thompson Architects

Oct 28, 2014

Classic Seaside and Net-Zero Meet in NH

One of our latest projects, Rye Harbor Net Zero, has been going up quickly this summer!  Our friends at Futuro have been working hard with Maine Green Building Supply to reach rigorous performance specifications. With locally-sourced materials like Maine White Cedar, this home fits seamlessly into the local classic seaside vernacular even though it employs advanced technology and design principles to reach demanding energy goals.

The first blower door test resulted in .6ach @50 pascals, which is within the final goal, even before insulation went in! If you’re curious about the many steps it takes to build a home like this, from surveying and pouring the footings in December through to the solar installation in May, check out Futuro’s Facebook page for photos and videos throughout the construction process.

Green Alliance did a nice story that outlines some of the details of this project. You can also check out the project profile on our website for more info.

Oct 9, 2014

Passive House Comes to Portland

North American Passive House Conference

The North American Passive House Network has selected passivhausMAINE to host the 2014 Conference & Expo this fall and it will be in Portland! This is a big deal for energy geeks like us because many of our favorite people will be talking about the topics we care so deeply about. And it's right at our doorstep! 

The conference, which was recently covered in the Bangor Daily News, will feature Passive House projects of all types all over the world, including our presentation and tour of the new Friends School of Portland, which will be under construction at the time of the conference. Read more about the groundbreaking ceremony in The Forecaster.

The entire Kaplan Thompson Architects design staff will be attending - we hope to see you there!

Aug 4, 2014

Green Architects Lounge - Foundations

Phil Kaplan and Chris Briley talk about foundations and the different approaches that architects and builders take with this important part of a home.  If you are as excited about frost-protected slabs as theys guys are, check out the full podcast today!

Jul 10, 2014

Earthship Farmstead Wins LEED Award

Earthship Farmstead has won the 2013 LEED for Homes award for Outstanding Single Family Home of the Year! 

Located in Stuart, Va., Earthship Farmstead is an earth-sheltered, LEED Platinum, energy-positive certified Passive House that also operates as a working water buffalo farm. Designed by Jesse Thompson and Jamie Broadbent, and built by Structures Design/Build, this project met the client's ambitious goal to build a farmstead in the Virginia mountains that would be as self-sufficient as possible. The house will use 90 percent less energy for heating than a typical house, and it can be heated on the coldest night of the winter with the energy of two hairdryers.

Jun 3, 2014

Restaurants Reign at KTA

Although KTA’s reputation has been closely linked to residential design, including renovation, new custom homes and multi-family projects, we have also done a lot of restaurant work lately.  Our first restaurant project with Miyake in 2011 generated several more over the past few years including:

And a few others we can't mention yet, so stay tuned!

Apr 8, 2014

NESEA Building Energy Conference

Most of the KTA team will be attending the 2014 Building Energy conference sponsored by NESEA, and Phil and Parlin will be giving a talk titled Affordable, Net Zero Modular – Chasing The Golden Trifecta, Scraping Knees Along the Way. With more than 3,000 attendees from over 30 states, professionals with an interest in renewables and high-performance building will not want to miss this event! 


Feb 20, 2014

Ranch Revival Wins Maine AIA COTE Award

Ranch Revival Deep Energy Retrofit

Ranch Revival received an Honor Award for the Maine AIA 2013 COTE Awards. Entries are judged on measures of sustainable design such as land use and site ecology, energy flows, water cycle, light & air, and bioclimatic design. 

Dec 4, 2013

KTA Wins AIA New England Design Merit Award

Harborview Townhomes | Kaplan Thompson Architects

Harborview Townhomes on York Street in Portland, Maine has won a Design Merit Award for Excellence in Architecture from AIA NEw England! This 7-unit townhome building feature energy-efficient design, renewable materials, and private outdoor space for each unit.

Learn more on the Harborview Townhomes project page.

Oct 15, 2013

Take a Tour with the Green Building Open House

2013 Green Building Open House | Kaplan Thompson Architects

We have 7 homes on this year's Green Building Open House Tour! If you have ever wanted to tour one of our projects, or see a BrightBuilt Home model, now is your chance.  The event is Saturday October 5th from 10am to 4pm and it's completely free.  We hope to see you there!

Oct 3, 2013

KTA Wins Lowering Cost of Housing Competition

Bayside Anchor | Kaplan Thompson Architects

KTA is thrilled to be part of the team that won the Lowering the Cost of Housing Competition! Sponsored by Deutsche Bank and Enterprise Community Partners, the $250,000 grand prize is going to Bayside Anchor, our multifamily housing design for the Bayside neighborhood of Portland.

We partnered with the Portland Housing AuthorityAvesta Housing, and Wright-Ryan Construction  to create a multi-use development with affordable housing and space for local non-profits. With a projected cost of under $130/SF for a Passive House apartment building and a radical non-structured car parking design, Bayside Anchor is a unique model for Portland.

We're excited to bring this vision to life!

Aug 1, 2013

BrightBuilt Home Has Launched

BrightBuilt Home by Kaplan Thompson Architects

We recently announced the launch of our net-zero homes initiative, BrightBuilt Home,in an effort to reach a greater population of homebuyers interested in net-zero energy buildings. By providing stock high-performance designs that can serve as touchstones for customization, prospective homebuyers can save time in the design and construction of a new home, thereby making green homes more affordable and more readily available - for a larger number of new home owners.

BrightBuilt Home offers nine net-zero, high-design homes at affordable prices costing 30% less, on average, than a typical new stick-built home, and requiring 50% less energy to operate. The homes can be built using modular strategies (in collaboration with Keiser Homes of Maine) or with traditional site-built construction. Stock plans and specifications are also available for do-it-yourselfers or private builders.

All of the homes are capable of affordably achieving the loftiest goal in residential design: producing as much energy as is consumed in the course of a year (netting zero energy). Any of the designs can also be customized. In advance of the launch, four modular-built and five site-built BrightBuilt Homes have already been completed, from Maine to the mid-Atlantic. Several more are currently in design or under construction.

Jul 9, 2013

Flying Point Wins FHB Best Energy-Smart Home Award

Flying Point | Kaplan Thompson Architects

Fine Homebuilding magazine has named our Flying Point project the Best Energy-Smart Home of 2013!

Check out the link for a video with interviews of Jesse and one of the homeowners to learn how Jesse and Richard made this Freeport home super energy efficient.

May 7, 2013

Earthship Farmstead Gets Passive House Certification

Earthship Farmstead

Our Earthship Farmstead home in Virginia is now a certified Passive House!  LEED Platinum certification is also in progress, making this home unique not just for its style, but also for its sustainability standards.

Mar 11, 2013

Peaks Island Home Start Houses are Complete

Peaks Island Home Start | Kaplan Thompson Architects

The two homes that we designed for Peaks Island Home Start have been completed and are ready for occupancy!  Built by Keiser Homes, ferried across Casco Bay on a barge, and installed by Hallmark Homes, these affordable modular homes are net zero ready and super efficient.  

Feb 19, 2013

David's Opus 10 is Open for Business!

David's Opus Ten by Kaplan Thompson Architects

We had to keep it under wraps while we were working on it, but we can finally announce our involvement in David Turin's latest restaurant endeavor.  David's Opus Ten is a mini restaurant within a restaurant with just one seating per night and only 18 seats.  We loved the challenge of creating this unique space, and Jesse particularly enjoyed the 9-course tasting menu reward.

Eater Maine posted more photos and the Press Herald has a great description of the space and some mouth-watering food images.  Tempted yet?  Call 207-773-4340 to reserve your table!

Nov 18, 2012

Peaks Island Home Start is Happening

Peaks Island Home Start design by Kaplan Thompson Architects

Construction of the Peaks Island Home Start green modular homes is underway.  Each module was taken across the bay on a barge and craned into place.  These new homes will be ready in just a matter of weeks!

For more information about this collaborative community project to get affordable net-zero homes on Peaks Island, check out this Working Waterfront article.

You can also follow our progress on Facebook and view more photos of this exciting project.

Nov 16, 2012

Harborview Townhouses framing is up

Our Harborview Townhouse 7 unit project is in full swing with framing at top speed. Panelized double-stud walls from Hancock lumber are arriving daily, and it's rising quickly. Huge windows, great views and an exciting contemporary new building for Portland!

Harborview building section

Harborview elevation

Harborview rear units

Oct 26, 2012

David's Opus 10 - New Restaurant Project

Kaplan Thompson Architects has been keeping a secret... We have been working with David Turin, chef and owner of David's Restaurant, on his latest brainchild - Opus 10, a restaurant within the existing restaurant in Monument Square.  Stay tuned for more developments, or check it out yourself when it opens this fall!

Get more details from the Portland Press Herald article.

Sep 25, 2012

Harborview Townhouses are out of the ground!

Redfern Properties' Harborview Townhouse construction is in full swing. Site walls are complete, building stem walls will be poured today. This is a very exciting project for us, a very low energy multi-family building close to all the good things in town. Anyone interested, they've pre-sold 4 out of 7 units. If you want in, give them a call soon!

Learn more on the Kaplan Thompson Architects website or from the realtor

Harborview Townhouses foundation

Harborview Townhouses site view

Jul 20, 2012

Phil Kaplan Joins Green Building Advisor Team

Our own Phil Kaplan has joined the GBA Advisory Team! As the publisher of Fine Homebuilding magazine and, GBA is a trusted source for both homeowners and residential design and construction professionals.  Phil's role as an advisor and contributing editor stems from the Green Architects' Lounge podcast he does with fellow Maine arichitect Chris Briley, who has also joined the GBA Advisory Team.  Congrats to Phil and Chris!

Jul 19, 2012