January 11, 2008 (RALEIGH, NC) – “We talk about a concept and the artists take it from there,” Raleigh architect Frank Harmon, FAIA, told Residential Architect magazine in a recent article on the benefits of working with artists, rather than contractors, when a design detail needs a creative and often handmade solution. “Working with craftspeople is the most efficient way to get things done.”
Harmon was one of seven architects interviewed by author Cheryl Weber for the article, entitled “Supplied by Architect: working with fabricators to blur the boundaries between objects and art.” (RA, September-October 2007). He and the others regularly work with artists and craftspeople on their projects.
Harmon was specifically singled out for his award-winning work on a residence in Charleston, SC, that features 10 pivoting, perforated-metal panels which span, protect and shade the west-facing side of the house. Fabricated by Christian Karkow, a local metalsmith, the panels received an award in Residential Architect’s 2006 design competition in the “details” category.
“I knew that if I made a detailed drawing and gave it to the contractor, he would have charged $200,000,” Harmon told Weber. By working with a Karkow, “I got it done for a fraction of that.”
However, Harmon and the others stressed that saving money is certainly not the primary reason for bringing artists and craftsmen to the table. Their hands-on ingenuity is often invaluable.
“You don’t design it for them; then they become the worker,” he said. “You make a sketch and enroll them in the concept. They take it from there and usually make it better… We just leave it off the contractor’s drawing and say “supplied by architect.’”
The entire article can be read at http://www.residentialarchitect.com by entering a search on the site for “supplied by architect.”
Frank Harmon’s work, which ranges from small sheds to 70,000-square-foot corporate headquarters, has received more AIA/NC awards than any other firm in the state and has been published in international, national and regional periodicals and books, including Architectural Record, Dwell and Waterfront Homes & Design. His work has become synonymous with sustainable, or “green,” architecture, and his firm was named Top Firm Of The Year by Residential Architect magazine in 2005. For more information, visit http://www.frankharmon.com.