Cidery Interior

River Architects Designs First-Ever Passive House–Certified Cidery

Located in Callicoon, New York, Seminary Hill Orchard & Cidery blends familiar charm with state-of-the-art building technology.

The centerpiece of Seminary Hill Orchard & Cidery in Callicoon, New York, is what appears to be a 9,300-square-foot barn designed by River Architects. James Hartford, River Architects’ principal and creative/technical partner, spent his childhood exploring barns in the Hudson Valley, where his firm is now based. By blending aspects of those structures with state-of-the-art building technology his team made the cidery a modern edifice that echoes the region’s history. “I envisioned it as a bank barn,” he says, referring to a two-story style of barn traditionally built into hillsides. “We were taking advantage of the site’s slope to have access on both levels.”

Referencing that type enabled the architects to arrange the business’s production space on the lower level and a tasting area on the upper floor where it could attract visitors to the site’s Delaware River views. Spaces throughout include the organic hard cider production facility, a commercial kitchen, a tasting area, and an event space. Despite all the functions, “as the public approaches on the upper level there’s an open, airy experience,” Hartford says.

Cidery fermentation vats

Besides visual delight and a familiar charm, the cidery was designed in line with environmentally friendly Passive House principles, in which Hartford and his wife, founding partner Juhee Lee-Hartford, have extensive experience. Seminary Hill is the first cidery that’s Passive House–certified. “Many of our other projects are also Passive House–certified, and a couple are LEED. We’ve always been mindful about sustainability,” Lee-Hartford says.

A low-energy-use structure, the cidery features a super-insulated thermal envelope to prevent unwanted heat loss or gain. Triple-pane windows provide daylight-ing and passive solar heating in the winter. Retractable awnings reduce glare from all the glazing and help with cooling. “There are two temperature zones and a well-insulated floor between those two levels,” Hartford explains. Airtight glazed doors keep sound from traveling from one floor to another.

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Seminary Hill is about striking a balance between the building’s look and efficiency. “We’re architects first, so we want these spaces to be compelling and enjoyable,” Hartford adds. “We don’t exactly make it easy on ourselves because we’re always pushing it to get it right.” 

Cidery Interior wide
Seminary Hill Orchard & Cidery’s bank barn-style layout arranges its tasting room, event space, and production on two levels. The design by River Architects makes it the first cidery to earn Passive House certification.

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