Tonic Design Selected for WCPSS Master Professional Services Agreement

Blueplate PR client: Tonic Design

 To provide architecture services for Wake County public schools.

Tonic Design
Vinny Petrarca and Katherine Hogan, AIA

Tonic Design, a multi-award-winning architectural firm based in Raleigh, NC, has qualified to provide architecture services to the Wake County Public School System, the largest school district in North Carolina, under the WCPSS’s Master Professional Services Agreements.

To qualify, Tonic Design co-owners Vincent Petrarca and Katherine Hogan, AIA, met all criteria including:

  1. Expertise in the type of work the WCPSS would require.
  2. Number of years the firm has been in business.
  3. Successful past performance on similar projects that included handling budgets and scheduling.
  4. Awards and professional acknowledgments with letters of recommendation.
  5. Status as a minority business with 51 percent of the firm owned by, in this case, a woman.

Hogan, who is also a member of the City of Raleigh’s Appearance Commission, and Petrarca presented their qualifications to the WCPSS’s Facilities Design and Construction department. The agreement is in effect for two years

Tonic Design is currently working on a “Maker Space,” a new building for an existing private elementary school. The school’s administration wants to expand pedagogical opportunities through long-term projects and new technologies. Inspired by their mission, the partners have based the building’s form on sustainable design strategies. A large roof, for example, will define adaptable volumes of interior space and will let the students witness the sun tracking through the building during the school day.

About Tonic Design

Tonic Design is a multi-award-winning architecture firm located in Raleigh, NC. Among many accolades throughout their careers, principals Katherine Hogan, AIA, and Vincent Petrarca received the 2017 Kamphoefner Prize for Modern Architecture, one of the highest honors for practicing architects in the state. In 2013, they were named “Rising Stars” by Residential Architect magazine. Their projects have been featured in a host of national publications, including Architectural Record, Residential Architect, Dwell, Custom Homes, Inform magazine, and Metal Architecture, and locally in the News & Observer, Walter magazine, and Urban Home. For more information:


Ambiente To Host February’s “Thirst4Architecture”

A networking event for fans of Modernist design.t4a-2015_sm

The Ambiente Collection, a showroom of contemporary and modernist furniture in Raleigh, will host the “Thirst4Architecture,” a networking event sponsored by North Carolina Modernist Houses (NCMH) and Emilie Huin/501 Realty, on Friday, February 27, from 6-8 p.m.

Free and open to the public, T4A events are opportunities for architects, artists, building managers, contractors, engineers, furniture dealers, realtors, and anyone else interested in Modernist residential design to connect and create strategic alliances in a casual environment. The hosts provide refreshments and other entertainment while introducing T4A participants to their businesses.
Ambiente started as a Scandinavian furniture store 30 years ago. Today, the store represents contemporary and modern furniture from over 200 manufacturers from around the world.
The Ambiente Collection is located at 10700 World Trade Boulevard off I-40 West in Raleigh (919.572.2870). For directions, visit

For more information on NCMH and the locations for future Thirst4Architecture events, visit

About NC Modernist Houses:

North Carolina Modernist Houses (NCMH) is an award-winning, 501C3 nonprofit organizations established in 2007 and dedicated to documenting, preserving, and promoting Modernist residential design. The website is now the largest open digital archive for Modernist residential design in America. NCMH also hosts popular architecture events every month and frequent home tours, giving the public access to the most exciting residential architecture, past and present. These tours and events raise awareness and help preserve these “livable works of art” for future generations.


For more information:


Find NCMH on Facebook.

Follow NCMH on Twitter and Instagram.

Frank Harmon Architect PA Makes National 2014 “Architect 50” Ranking

Based on business success, design quality, and commitment to sustainability.

Frank Harmon, FAIA
Frank Harmon, FAIA (photo by Juli Leonard)

Frank Harmon Architect PA, a multi-award-winning firm based in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, is included in Architect magazine’s 2014 Top 50 firms in the nation.

Harmon’s firm ranks fifteenth in the professional journal’s sustainability category.

The “Architect 50” places great emphasis on the firm’s commitment to sustainability and design excellence. As the magazine states:

“Qualifying to be ranked is based on scores in three separate categories: business, design, and sustainability. The sustainability and design categories were assigned more points than the business category to reflect Architect’s intent that the list rewards firms that achieve all-around excellence far beyond just profitability.”

Frank Harmon, FAIA, is a leader in modern, sustainable, and regionally appropriate architecture.

A few of his firm’s recent projects, all of which are based on the principles of sustainable design and construction, include: First Presbyterian Church and the AIA NC Center for Architecture and Design in Raleigh; NC Botanical Garden Visitors’ Education Center, North Carolina State Construction’s first LEED Platinum building; a residential mountain retreat in the North Carolina’s Uwharri Mountains; STARworks Center for Creative Enterprise in Star, NC; the United Therapeutics Field House in Research Triangle Park, NC; and the Oyster Research Shellfish Hatchery in Wilmington, NC.

For more information on Frank Harmon Architect PA, visit

About Frank Harmon Architect PA:

Frank Harmon, FAIA, is principal of the multi-award-winning firm Frank Harmon Architect PA in Raleigh, NC. He is also a Professor in Practice at NC State University’s College of Design and the 2013 winner of AIA North Carolina’s F. Carter Williams Gold Medal, the highest honor presented by the Chapter to an AIA NC member to recognize a distinguished career and extraordinary accomplishments as an architect. His firm is nationally acclaimed for its modern, sustainable, regionally appropriate designs, especially its environmental education centers. Frank Harmon is also the author and illustrator for “Native Places,” a blog in which he uses hand-drawn sketches and mini-essays to examine the relationship between nature and built structures. For more information: Contact information:; 919.829.9464; 14 East Peace Street, Raleigh, NC 27604.

Umicore Ranks in Top 10 of the World’s Most Sustainable Corporations

Based on key performance indicators, such as innovation, diversity, and eco-friendly productivity.

January 26, 2012 (Raleigh, NC) — Umicore, a global materials technology group and the parent company of Umicore Building Products USA in Raleigh, NC, has been included once again in the top 10 of the world’s most sustainable companies.

Corporate Knights, an independent magazine focused on promoting sustainable development, published the rankings this week.

The “Global 100 Most Sustainable Companies” ranking is based on key performance indicators such as innovation, diversity, and productivity related to a set of environmental factors. Ranked eighth out of 100, Umicore was praised for the significant role the company plays in the metal recycling chain and the development of materials for clean energy applications.

This accolade follows Umicore’s recent inclusion in the innovative Living Planet Green Tech Index launched by WWF, the Living Planet Fund Management Company, and Chevreux.

Umicore is also a long-standing component of the FTSE4Good index, which measures performance of companies that meet globally recognized corporate responsibility standards.

“The inclusion of Umicore in these rankings and indices is a recognition that our strategy and business philosophy do meaningfully address the priorities of society today,” said Umicore CEO Marc Grynberg. “We have a strong focus on products and services that provide environmental benefits, such as recycling, automotive catalysts, and materials for rechargeable batteries. This is complemented by ambitious objectives to further improve our environmental and social performance.”

“It is great to be involved with a company that takes a strong stance on sustainability, as well as representing an architectural product that contributes to that equation,” said Daniel Nicely, market development director for Umicore Building Products USA, the manufacturer of VMZINC® architectural zinc.

For more information on Umicore’s sustainability strategies and practices, visit

For more information on Umicore Building Products, visit

About Umicore:

Umicore is a global materials technology group. It focuses on application areas where its expertise in materials science, chemistry and metallurgy makes a real difference. Its activities are centered on four business areas: Catalysis, Energy Materials, Performance Materials, and Recycling. Each business area is divided into market-focused business units offering materials and solutions that are at the cutting edge of new technological developments and essential to everyday life. For more information:

About Umicore Building Products USA:

Umicore is a world-leading producer of VMZINC® architectural zinc. For over 160 years, Umicore has been providing innovative solutions for building owners, architects, and contractors. Umicore has offices and representatives all over the world. In the United States, Umicore Building Products USA, Inc., is based in Raleigh, North Carolina. For additional information:

The Frugal Travel Guy Advocates For

Rick Ingersoll urges support for entrepreneurs in developing nations.

Rick Ingersoll, The Frugal Travel Guy


February 8, 2011 (HILTON HEAD, SC) – Rick Ingersoll, author of The Frugal Travel Guy blog and The Frugal Travel Guy Handbook, is advocating support for, an online lending platform that allows individuals to make loans of any size to help alleviate poverty in developing nations.


Ingersoll supports through his membership in the Lending Team. FlyerTalk is a large community forum for frequent-flier travelers. The administrators of the site organized its Lending Team for in 2009 and Ingersoll joined the team as part of his commitment to help others.


“As world travelers, we become extremely aware of the differences between our lifestyles and the quality of life in other countries, especially the poor and the working poor,” he said. “My son [travel photographer Andrew Ingersoll] sent me a simple photo of a Laotian girl in her mountain village near Luang Probang. And that image is, for me, the essence of why I love to travel. The difference between this girl’s life and mine is stunning. Dirt streets, raw log construction, bare feet, and laundry on the line. In contrast, I was sitting in an Oceanfront Suite in Kauai at the time. That photo reminds me to be grateful for the things I take for granted, and to give back whenever possible.”


As a member of the FlyerTalk Lending Team, Ingersoll makes zero-percent interest loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries “to give them the opportunity to improve the quality of their lives and those of their families,” he said. works with local NGOs (non-governmental organizations) who screen needy applicants who want to start or expand their small businesses to ensure their families’ survival. Lenders like Ingersoll can loan as little as $25 or as much as they want.


“I have yet to have a loan not be repaid,” he noted. “And as the funds are repaid back into my account, I re-lend them to others in need.”


In December of 2010, FlyerTalk reported that its Lending Team had made 2,527 loans through, totaling $78,350. (For more information on, including how to join or start a Lending Team, visit


Rick Ingersoll also announced recently that he is donating all proceeds from sales of The Frugal Travel Guy Handbook to the Wounded Warriors Project until further notice. For more information on Ingersoll, visit his blog, The Frugal Travel Guy.


About Rick Ingersoll:

Rick Ingersoll, author of The Frugal Travel Guy Blog and The Frugal Travel Guy Handbook, is constantly on the lookout for the best credit card and debit card sign-up bonuses. He posts travel tips daily on debit and credit card deals and on other interesting promotions with the goal of reducing his readers’ travel costs today and for the rest of their lives. He is also available for seminars and speaking engagements. A retired mortgage banker, Ingersoll and his wife live in Hilton Head Island, SC, and Traverse City, MI, when they’re not traveling the globe.