Triangle Modernist Houses’ founder and director praised at awards
June 20, 2011 (Durham, NC) — George Smart, founder and director of Triangle Modernist Houses (TMH), a non-profit organization dedicated to documenting, preserving and promoting modernist residential design, is a 2011 recipient of Preservation Durham’s Advocacy Award for individual effort.
The 2011 Preservation Awards were announced during Preservation Durham’s Annual Meeting on June 15.
“George’s labor of love has turned, in a few short years, into the country’s largest online archive for modern architecture and modernism,” Preservation Durham announced during the awards presentation. “George has made it his personal mission to actively promote the value of modern architecture in our daily lives and in our architectural heritage – from mid-century/1950s houses to new construction – as well as the architects who design them.”
The award presentation cited Smart’s ongoing effort to archive and promote historic preservation “by cataloging the disappearing mid-century modern homes and commercial structures throughout the Triangle region and state, many of which we have lost and, sadly, many of which are currently at-risk.”
The presentation also cited TMH’s weekly newsletter and free listing of modernist houses for sale that helps realtors find buyers for those houses, especially those in danger of being demolished.
“But George’s hard work, dedication, and commitment to historic preservation is illustrated by more than a single website,” the announcement continued, pointing out TMH’s many house tours, dinners, tours outside the state, annual architecture movie series, and other educational programs.
“Educating the public about the importance of preserving the architectural treasures of the recent past is always a challenge for local and regional non-profits,” the announcement concluded. “The Triangle is fortunate and we are grateful to have such a staunch advocate, volunteer, and crusader in George Smart.”
Smart expressed his gratitude for the award: “Durham has an amazing range of Modernist houses, many of which are approaching 50 years old. Now is the time for the community to recognize these houses as the next generation of Durham’s history. TMH is proud to help Durham cherish that legacy through our online archive. We are honored to receive this award.
This marks the fourth public accolade Smart and TMH have received. In 2008, TMH received an Award of Merit from the Preservation Society of Chapel Hill and a Gertrude S. Carraway Award from Preservation North Carolina. In 2009, TMH received the Paul E. Buchanan Award from the Vernacular Architecture Forum and a Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Community Appearance from the City of Raleigh.
For more information on Preservation Durham and its awards program, visit www.preservationdurham.org.
For more information on George Smart and Triangle Modernist Houses, visit www.trianglemodernisthouses.com.
About George Smart:
A Raleigh native, George Smart became interested in architecture through his father, the late George Smart Sr. The latter was a local architect for over 40 years and, like many in his generation, admired Frank Lloyd Wright’s modernist style. Although the son’s career has little in common with architecture (he is a business consultant through his firm Strategic Development, Inc.), George can’t deny genetics. Modernist design is irrevocably embedded in his DNA. Even his mother, Ann Seltman Smart, a WPTF radio personality at one time, produced a documentary during the 1960s called “A is for Architecture.” In 2007, George created the website www.trianglemodernisthouses.com. Recognizing increasing threats to the region’s modernist inventory, George set out to document every structure that could be identified, from existing neighborhood icons to those already lost to demolition or decay. George lives with his wife, Eleanor Stell, in their award-winning modernist house on a lakefront in Durham.