Michael Wisniewski, aia, cphc

Founding Principal

michaelw@duncanwisniewski.com  •  (802) 864-6693 ext. 2#


Becoming an architect occurred in a flash.  Not once did I think of Architecture as a profession until that moment, although seeds were planted.   At six, bored in the pews of Blessed Trinity Church in Buffalo, NY, I had a vision of soaring around the dome and into the gold tabernacle where the miniature space expanded along an infinite axis.  The first time we went bowling,  I felt the horizontally compressed space in the Bowl-O-Drome as physically different from church space while rows of elm trees in summer breezes created a soothing street cathedral.  At fifteen, I walked divided Berlin and came to a blue glass church added to remnants of a bombed church steeple and I remembered the light as reconciling.  

I studied psychology at Cornell but read about the house that CG Jung built for himself, each piece reflecting a different part of his soul while surrounded by architecture students in a white, ramped, flat roofed apartment buildingoverhanging a gorge and laughingly calledCorbusian;  we would play music amidst drawings and models.  Hitchhiking across Canada and the western US,  I saw weird domes and woodbutcher houses in Mendocino and became a carpenter in Salt Lake City.  I inhaled the smell of skillsawed redwood and cedar in the morning and delighted in shadows cast by rough framing before a sad entombment in fake tudor siding.  One day, balanced on a beam 30' in the air, laying out rafters, I paused:  White snow swirling,  yellow plywood and studs,  black dots of distant deer crossing the mountain ridge above, red hooded boss sweatshirt below telling me to hurry - the four colors of alchemy, I thought - all that stuff in me burst and I wanted to be an architect.

Back at Cornell:  BArch, study in Berlin, explore Italy, France and Spain and work in Ithaca.   Professors advised a big city;  in 1979 I came to Vermont;  a place ripe with possibility that I do not think has yet been fulfilled. Elsewhere on this site I plan to post more detailed musings on architecture and the landscape.  In the meantime:  

I see design as a series of revisions.  An initial impulse grows from the interaction of   program, site and context.  This is tested and reworked and often transformed into something new.  The goal is to find forms that bring the many conflicting desires and forces at play into balance.  

I am obsessed with flowing, functional floor plans and keep fiddling with them until they are just right.  I draw on the physical and cultural surroundings to find forms that can be reinterpreted and abstracted so they are both old and new, fit in and stand out, are calm and vigorous and where the opposites are unified. 

And when the rare client who would like to build on that basis but do something a little bit unusual comes along;  then I am ready to explore new realms.


  • Vermont Registration # 1202
  • PHIUS Certified Passive House Consultant,  2012
  • Cornell University;  College of Architecture, Art & Planning, B Arch, 1978
  • Berlin Summer Academy in Architecture, 1977
  • Cornell University, College of Arts and Sciences, psychology major, 1970-72


  • 2017 Civita Institute, NorthEast Chapter.  Awarded 1 month artist residency in Civita Di Bagnoregio, Italy for 2018.
  • 2017  Design Award for Elm Place Senior Housing (Confidential until November 2017)
  • 2016 Vermont AIA Design Awards - Bright Street Cooperative Homes, Burlington, VT
  • 2011 Vermont AIA Design Awards - Hickory Street Neighborhood, Rutland, VT
  • 2007 Community Development Housing Achievement Award - Whitcomb Woods
  • 2005 Chora - ArtGate VTAIA Competition for Artist Transportation Center Design Award
  • 2005 Chittenden County Historical Society Awards - Noonan House
  • 2002 Vermont AIA Design Awards - Jury Choice - Williston Information Areas
  • 2001 Anderson Parkway - Best Affordable Housing Subdivision, NVHBRA
  • 1996 Pasackow Medal for Downtown Design Excellence - CornerStone Building
  • 1988 Progressive Architecture Citation, BUDS Project, Burlington, VT
  • 1987 Progressive Architecture - Young Architect Award Issue
  • 1982 Garden Way Compact House Competition Winner
  • 1978 Steedman Competition -Third Prize 
  • 1978 Rapuano Memorial Medal for distinction in design
  • 1978 Eidlitz Fellowship
  • 1978 Student AIA Medal


  • New Gravity Housing Conference, Philadelphia, PA, 'Passive House, Affordable, Multi-Family Housing in Olde, Colde, New England’,  08.02.17
  • New England Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) Presentation - Elm Place, 07.21.17
  • Better Buildings by Design Conference Presenter - 'Elm Place Senior Housing: The Adventures of an Affordable Multifamily Passive House Project in Vermont’, 02.01.17
  • Better Buildings by Design Conference Presenter - 'Net Zero and Multifamily Housing: Is It an Attainable Goal?’, 02.04.15
  • Roland Batten Memorial Lecture - ‘A Clean and Well Lit Place’, University of Vermont, 11.04.14
  • AIA Panel Discussion on Design and Presentation on Sen No Rikyu.  2007
  • Nature & Culture: Work of Karl F. Schinkel,  UVM/Fire House Gallery Lecture, 2006  
  • Vermont Technical College, Randolph, VT.  Guest Review Critic, 2003
  • Vermont College of Architecture, Norwich, VT - Guest Review Critic. 1992-2011
  • McGill University, Montreal, Quebec - Guest review critic.  1988-96
  • Church Street Center - 'Unmeasurable' lecture series and course. 1989-90
  • Yestermorrow, Warren, VT - Lecturer and guest review critic.  1991-96 


  • ‘Roominations’ - 10,000+ photographs of my bedroom.  2015 - 2017
  • 'Sleeping Babies, Social Sculptures’ - Interpretive photography of outdoor dance/art/skateboard piece shown at Art Hop.  2017 
  • ‘Salt’ - Interpretive photography of dance/music/light performance in Burlington Salt Shed.  2016 
  • Whirling Dervish Woodpile;  Hinesburg VT.  2007 
  • Waterfront Art Project - Pease Grain Tower.  12 month  site installation/performance. 1997 
  • Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Co., "The Promised Land", Burlington, VT.  1991 


  • 2017 Imagining Home - Traveling exhibit of designs by architects paired with near homeless clients to imagine their home
  • 1998 Waterfront Art Project, City Hall Gallery, Burlington, VT 
  • 1997 Waterfront Art Project,  Firehouse Gallery,  Burlington VT  
  • 1990 Three Architects with Spirit, Artists Collective, Burlington, VT 
  • 1986 Architectural Concepts, Passepartout Gallery, Winooski, VT  
  • 1985 Vermont Council Of Arts - traveling architecture exhibit
  • 1982 Architectural Constructions, Living Learning Center, UVM   
  • 1981 Six Vermont Architects, Living/Learning Center, UVM


  • Energy Efficient Senior Living Apartment Building Opens in Milton - Seven Days, Molly Walsh, 03.14.17
  • Burlington Celebrates 20th PechaKucha Night -  Seven Days, Rachel Elizabeth Jones, 05.15.16
  • Vermont Architecture Group Announces This Year’s Awards and Accolades - Seven Days, Amy Lilly, 12.19.16
  • An Architectural Philosophy:  Buildings For People In Need - Seven Days, Amy Lilly, 11.19.14 
  • List of My Favorite Buildings and Spaces - 05401, 12.10   
  • The Best of Burlington Architecture - Best of Burlington, 04.08
  • Best of the Rest - Seven Days, Donald Kreis, (Review of Williston Project), 12.03
  • Review of Mermaid Building - 05401, Mannie Lionni 06.97 
  • Long Rangers (firm profile), Business People of Vermont, Rosalyn Graham, 05.03
  • Roasted Red Peppers -  05401 06.97
  • Expressive Details, by Duo Dickinson, McGraw Hill, 1996
  • Review of Burlington Food Shelf - 05401, Mannie Lionni 12.95 
  • Home, Homage - Burlington Free Press, 03.30.91
  • A House in the Woods - Harrowsmith Country Living,  07.90
  • Move Over Euclid - Vanguard Press, 02.22.90
  • B.U.D.S. Citation, Progressive Architecture Award issue. 1988                
  • Home Design Issue,  New York Times Magazine,  10.18.87
  • Young Architect Awards, Progressive Architecture, 06.87
  • Foundations and Fantasies - North by Northeast,  09.86
  • New England Electric, Energy Efficient Homes, 1983
  • Garden Way Compact House Book, Don Metz, 1982


  • Tango, travel, photography, film, art, mythology, cooking, history, literature, yoga


  • Peru, Italy, Sicily, Jordan, Cuba, Mexico, Spain, Berlin, France, Nova Scotia, Germany, Austria,  Marfa, Texas 
  • Hitchhike across Canada and western US  


  • Burlington City Arts,  Public Art Committee Chair, 1999 - 2006.
  • Burlington City Arts, Board Member,  1999 - 2004.
  • Vermont Public Radio Community Advisory Board, Secretary, 1999 - 2002.
  • Wainer Community Playground, Hinesburg, VT,  Designer and Co-Organizer.