Frank Harmon Architect Wins Faith & Form Design Award for Modern, Green Church Addition in Charleston

Courtyard elevation at dusk © Richard Leo Johnson

January 5, 2011 (RALEIGH, NC) – The “green” Sunday school addition at the Circular Congregational Church in downtown Charleston has received its third design award, the most recent from Faith & Form Magazine and the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture (IFRAA). The building was designed by Frank Harmon Architect PA of Raleigh, NC, and completed in 2009.


Carefully sited on an isolated section of the churchyard to lessen its intrusion on a historic cemetery there, the two-story, 3000-square-foot building includes low-tech eco-friendly elements as well as state-of-the-art technology. It features Charleston’s first vegetated roof, a geothermal heating and cooling system, a rainwater collection cistern for landscape use, the use of recycled building materials wherever possible. The building’s siting, shallow depth, operable windows, and porches also echo vernacular methods for bringing natural light and cross-ventilation into the building.


“The Building Committee asked us to design the most sustainable, 21st century Sunday school addition possible in the city, with the smallest possible footprint to respect and complement the beauty of the historic grounds,” said Frank Harmon, FAIA, founder and principal of Frank Harmon Architect PA and Professor In Practice at North Carolina State University’s College of Design in Raleigh.


“This is our generation’s contribution and a lasting testament to being sensitive to the church, the city, and the earth,” said Dr. Stephen Cofer-Shabica, chairman of the building committee task force.


Covered porches serve as exterior hallways. © Richard Leo Johnson

The addition has received Honor Awards from the North Carolina chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA NC) and AIA Triangle, a section of AIA NC. The Building Committee also received the Historic Charleston Foundation’s Founders Award for the church’s addition.


According to the Faith & Form awards jury, the best liturgical architecture projects of the nearly 200 submitted “maintained a remarkable consistency throughout – from building exteriors, interiors, and furnishings, to the landscape.” All 2010 winners can be seen at


Faith & Form is the AIA’s quarterly interfaith journal on religion, art and architecture. The annual design awards program is co-sponsored by Faith & Form and the (IFRAA), a Knowledge Community of the AIA. The awards program was founded in 1978 to honor the best in architecture, liturgical design, and art for religious spaces. For more information on the IFRAA/Faith & Form awards, go to


For more information on Frank Harmon Architect PA, visit


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




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