Cara Armstrong


Cara Armstrong, Norwich University's Director of School of Architecture + Art, is an educator, writer, and illustrator who was educated as an architect.

Tainted at birth by dint of her parents’ professions in architecture and education, Armstrong received bachelor’s degrees in environmental design and philosophy (both cum laude) from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a master’s degree in architecture from Columbia University. She was awarded two fellowships for study in England and Canada.

Armstrong was a project director at the Urban Design Center in Kent, Ohio, 1994-95, and an intern architect at Myers Associates, Architects, Medina, Ohio, before taking a post in 1995 as historic preservation planner with the city of Key West (Fla.) planning department. She was named President of Gecko Roamin’ Inc., a gallery in Key West that featured her art-to-wear designs and the work of other local artists in 1997. In 2002, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy named her curator of buildings and collections at Fallingwater. She was Fallingwater’s curator of education from 2006 through June 2010. She also has an MFA in poetry from Drew University.

Norwich University

The Lift House | Building High Efficiency Tiny Houses for the Underserved
with Tolya Stonorov + Cara Armstrong
Community Vision Stage, 4:00pm

The 360sf LIFT House was designed and built by a group of 16 undergraduate architecture students at Norwich University, led by Associate Professors Danny Sagan and Tolya Stonorov in conjunction with Downstreet Housing and Washington County Mental Health. The LIFT House is about the human spirit, it is about basic necessities, it is about giving back to society, it is about how architecture can aid in community development. The goal of this house was to complete the design of a small autonomous dwelling unit for one person that was beautiful, high performance, used local materials and was extremely economical. The house is a prototype that supports people who come from a homeless community in Vermont that are not able to support themselves fully or provide for themselves a safe and supportive living environment. We strove to make this home work both emotionally and spiritually to create an environment that is healthful and safe.

Beyond designing a mini home that would serve all of life's needs and create joy, our studio was fully committed to building a high performance, energy efficient home. With an early goal of all cellulose insulation, we designed a wall system that used advanced framing whenever possible, i.e. keeping the building light, and still be thick enough to hold adequate insulation to meet high performance standard. We were thrilled to receive an excellent blower door test rating and meet virtually all high performance requirements for such a small house. This design process is a practical expression of compassionate intent. Our job was simple and therefore the implications were complex. This incredibly important project, a collaboration between Norwich Architecture, Downstreet Housing and Washington County Mental Health, aimed to address the underserved, with social justice and architecture for everyone as its goal.

Erin Maile O'Keefe