Carriage house interior

Our name, our mission

In business since 2010, Arocordis Design grew out our sense of mission to help our clients and communities thrive by design. To fuel this mission and echoing our own creative process, we devised and created our name from two Latin words we melded together to form our name, aro and cordis

The first, aro (v) - means in Latin “to cultivate, to till.” and then second, cordis (n), means in Latin, “heart, soul and meaning”. Thus for us, Arocordis means to cultivate the heart, soul and meaning in our design, place, and space making.
— Stephen M. Frey, Principal Architect, President

About our firm

Arocordis Design provides a wide range of architectural, planning, strategy, and other creative services. We also make art which we sell along with custom commissions.  We serve clients in Vermont and beyond, and virtually. Led by principal architect, Stephen M. Frey, AIA - LEED AP, we leverage his extensive quarter-century plus of experience with design of residential, commercial, institutional, and planning project experiences and project management skills.

On every project, large or small, we focus on your needs in ways not always possible in larger firms. When you hire Arocordis Design you receive the full-attention of Stephen Frey who leads every project. To ensure consistency and quality, depending on the needs of the project, we often collaborate with other design professionals and engineers to create a personalized yet professional design experience.

Great room interior

Great room interior

In short, we dedicate our work to you, and your family to help you thrive in your home and be at your very best. We have provided services all around central and northern Vermont from for home renovations, additions, and new custom homes. At other firms before Arocordis Design, we draw from extensive experience with net-zero high-performing energy efficient design, multi-family design and mixed-use development with residential components.

Lilly pads, Lake Upper St. Regis - New York

Nature near: Integration of indoor and outdoor spaces and natural elements is a theme we passionately pursue in all levels of our work with a modern-spirited sense of style and character. Growing up in Vermont taught Stephen Frey the value of connecting to nature within architecture and placemaking.

Early influences: Frank LLoyd Wright influenced Steve at an early age and other 20th century architects like Richard Neutra and Carlo Scarpa, leading Steve to seek to balance authenticity in materiality choices and space making with a sense of place borne from pragmatism of New England. In his building layout and planning design, Steve is always concerned about connecting interior and exterior spaces, views, and building orientation with the work he does. He’s as much interested in the entry sequence from outside to in and inside to out as he his with the details of rooms and building systems, furniture layouts, and other design choices.

Sustainable Choices: Arocordis Design is committed to providing energy efficient design and planning services befitting your budget and priorities. This includes resilient green design in combination with renewable energy sources in healthy and recyclable material choices, low-energy building enclosures with high insulation and air-sealing levels, electrical, lighting, heating and cooling systems.

We prefer where possible designing for natural cooling strategies well-suited to northeastern cold-climates and beyond. We also endorse and use advance wood framing design which enables more cost-effective and successful energy efficient design solutions.

Our residential design services range from early planning services such as programming, home-master planning to detailed space-planning, floor plans, elevations, details, and interior design. We can help with local permitting, cost-estimating, building and material specifications, delivery options, and builder selection.

We are award winning with two service awards from houzz recently from 2019 and 2016. We strive to provide timely, creative, and responsive service to the families we work with.

Read on for more about that in our next section which lists the types of services we provide. Click here if you would like to tell us about your project and contact us.

ZigZag House2 Project - 2016

Stephen Frey in Montpelier, VT on Houzz
Stephen Frey in Montpelier, VT on Houzz

What we offer

Arocordis Design offers a wide range of professional services as part of a tailored full-service package or individually or grouped relevant to your project needs.

Our goal is to help you, your organization, your family thrive by design.

We work under retainer, then hourly, hourly with an estimated maximum, percentage based of construction and more.  Contact us to discuss the best value for your goals and needs, budget and timeline.

Farm on the land, original watercolor, Stephen M. Frey 2008.

Farm on the land, original watercolor, Stephen M. Frey 2008.

Our architectural design services 

Architectural residential design

Major home renovation and additions

Custom home design

Residential kitchen and bath planning and design

3-D design and visualization services

Home site selection and design

Sustainable design and planning

Healthy home design and material selection

Cost estimating

Site analysis, assessment and environmental analysis

Master planning and site use programming

Concept site planning & site design

Permitting plans and applications

Zoning and permitting analysis and summaries

Interior architectural design

Furniture layout and selection assistance

Concept lighting design

Fixed finishes design and selection

Specifications (by others) but coordinated by us.

Project management services

Owner advocacy and representation

Design for accessibility and universal access

Construction administration services

LEED services (in collaboration with  others)

Virtual interactive design using Skype, Google Hangouts or similar


We are grateful to our clients and customers and the relationships we have built together.  It takes many hands to bring projects to life and its important to dig into the earth and get our hands dirty together. That's the spirit of collaboration we strive for every day!

Below is a partial list of who we have done work for and with as Arocordis Design, collaborating with others, or with other firms before 2010. Doing so shares a broader picture of our experience. 

Detail - Sundial

Detail - Sundial


National LIfe Group

AllEarth Renewables

American Meadows

CORA Health Services, Inc.

Citi Properties, LLC.

Vermont League of Cities and Towns

Heartbeet LIfesharing*

Seventh Generation **

Renewable NRG Systems **

Canopy Development, LLC **


Elmhill Inc. dba Maplehill Farm and School

Montpelier Public Schools

Orchard Valley Waldorf School - Little Lambs Daycare

City of Montpelier 

Langdon Street Alive (Creative Placemaking)*

Bethany United Church of Christ

Rise Up Bakery Restoration for Barre Historical Society

Vermont Technical College*

Rural Edge Housing Non-profit* 

Chitengo National Park, Mozambique - Senior Staff Housing*

State of Vermont Buildings and General Services**

Beth Jacob Synagogue **

Coastal Maine Botanic Gardens **

The Putney School**

The University of Vermont**


Jennifer Overton

Kassi & Eric Benedict

Lilli & Brian Cain

Denise & Peter Ricker

Others wish to remain confidential


* Indicates work done in collaboration with Ward Joyce Design (Lead)

** Indicates experience working for this client while at Maclay Architects


(image credit - Hard Work, Dirty Hands, 2011 - Ogilivy  PR CC license Com and Mods allowed)



Principal Architect

Portrait by Arocordis Design


Steve is Principal Architect and President of Arocordis Design. Steve leads the firm in all client facing work, project management, design, bidding, construction management services and more. He is building a practice notable for its mission and values driven design process especially in commercial and institutional project types, yet scalable to families and residential design.  He practices high performance workplace, commercial, and residential design while engaging greater community and sustainability concerns. Notable clients include National Life Group, AllEarth Renewables, American Meadows, Montpelier Public Schools.   

 Steve often speaks about best practices in office design, workplace strategies, and high performance sustainable architecture. He frequently presents at local, national conferences, and seminars, and develops and delivers live online webinars of original design focused content to an international audience. He regularly contributes articles to outlets such as The Burlington Free Press, Metropolis Magazine’s Point of View blog, LinkedIn. 

past experiences

Formerly Steve acted as architect, project manager, and finally design director at Maclay Architects, an award-winning Vermont architecture firm from 2001 to 2010. There Steve held design leadership roles on a variety of notable commercial, institutional, and residential commissions including Seventh Generation, NRG Systems and the Greening of Aiken Project at UVM. Before returning home to Vermont in 2001, Steve lived and practiced in Denver, Colorado graduating in 1992 from the University of Colorado College of Architecture and Planning, at Denver. Steve is a 1988 Graduate of UVM and grew up in Essex Junction, Vermont. He spent summers in high school working at his local school district as a plumber’s and painter’s helper, and a groundskeeper.  He’s an avid watercolorist and artist who exhibits often in Vermont.