Frank Harmon Wins AIA NC & Sir Walter Raleigh Awards for Walnut Creek Urban Wetlands Park Center

October 9, 2010 (RALEIGH, NC) – Frank Harmon, FAIA, principal of Frank Harmon Architect PA in Raleigh, recently received both an Award of Merit from the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA NC) and a Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Community Appearance for his firm’s design of the thoroughly “green” Walnut Creek Urban Wetlands Park Environmental Education Center in Raleigh.


The AIA NC award was presented during AIA NC’s 2010 Conference held recently in Asheville.


The Sir Walter Raleigh Award was presented during a special ceremony at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh to celebrate the people and projects that have made outstanding contributions to the appearance, environment and livability of the state’s Capital City.


"The longest porch in North Carolina."

Walnut Creek Urban Wetlands Park is transforming 49 acres of abused, polluted wetlands near the downtown district into a living, natural resource for the City of Raleigh. The park’s mission is to promote understanding of and protection for an urban wetlands, enhance community pride, and encourage economic development while preserving the natural beauty of the wetlands and protecting the habitat of numerous species.


Completed in September of 2008, the 7000-square-foot Environmental Education Center was Phase One of the project. It houses a bookshop, conference room, small library, and a kitchen, as well as classrooms and a laboratory.


The all-wood construction utilized recycled materials wherever possible and blends seamlessly into the landscape. An abundance of windows welcomes the surroundings into the building and facilitates natural ventilation and illumination. Resting lightly upon the land, the structure is poised six feet above the wetlands flood plain so its footprint is minimal.


All circulation occurs on the exterior of the building across ”the longest back porch in North Carolina,” as Harmon calls it, inviting visitors out into the environment. The metal roof’s deep overhangs protect the interior from the harsh summer sun. A bio-retention system filters storm water runoff before it returns to Walnut Creek. Extensive areas of native plants and flowers further blend the building into its surroundings.


“Since the overall goal of Walnut Creek Urban Wetlands Educational Park is to conserve and protect a natural wetland, the architectural element had to embrace the same mission,” Harmon said.


Harmon’s firm designed the Center with consultants Robin C. Moore and Nilda Cosco of The Natural Learning Initiative. Other key players in the design were landscape architect Cynthia Rice, civil engineers McKim & Creed and structural engineer Tim Martin PE.


The Walnut Creek Urban Wetland Park is part of the Raleigh Parks & Recreation Department.


For more information on the Environmental Education Center, go to and click on “current” projects.


About Frank Harmon Architect PA:


Frank Harmon Architect PA, a multi-award-winning firm headquartered in downtown Raleigh, is recognized nationally as a leader in innovative, modern, and regionally inspired “green” architecture. This year the firm was ranked 13th out of the top 50 firms in the nation by Architect magazine, an annual rating that emphasizes ecological commitment and design quality as much as profitability. Recent projects include Duke University’s Ocean Science Teaching Center in Beaufort, the NC Botanical Garden’s new Visitors Center at UNC-Chapel Hill, and Merchants Millpond Outdoor Educational building in Gatesville, N.C. The firm’s work has been featured in numerous books, magazines and journals on architecture, including Dwell, Architectural Record, Architect, and Residential Architect. For more information, go to

One thought on “Frank Harmon Wins AIA NC & Sir Walter Raleigh Awards for Walnut Creek Urban Wetlands Park Center

  1. Arthur June 1, 2011 / 7:40 pm

    I like this park but I wish there was a walk way out over the swampy area and to the creek.

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