Frank Harmon Architect PA Takes Home Two Different Awards in One Night

The firm scores high with the City of Raleigh, AIA Triangle. 

Walnut Creek Wetland Center

April 26, 2011 (Raleigh, NC) – The evening of April 21, 2011, was a busy one for Raleigh architect Frank Harmon, FAIA. After collecting a City of Raleigh Environmental Design Award at the Marbles Museum in downtown Raleigh, he dashed over to the NC Museum of Art in west Raleigh just in time to collect another award from the Triangle section of the American Institute of Architects’ North Carolina chapter.

On the same night, the state’s Capital City praised Harmon’s Walnut Creek Wetland

JC Raulston Arboretum Lath House at N.C. State University

Center for demonstrating green design concepts and a positive ecological footprint, and AIA Triangle bestowed a Merit Award for overall design excellent on the firm’s Lath House for N.C. State University’s JC Raulston Arboretum.

“The Walnut Creek Wetland Center was the result of nearly a decade of advocacy by the board of Partners for Environmental Justice,” Harmon said. “It was a privilege to help them build an environmental center that will serve generations of children. As Walnut Creek nurtures children, the Lath House shelters plants, and both aspire to make North Carolina a better place.”

The City of Raleigh created its annual Environmental Awards Program to recognize individuals and organizations that demonstrate “outstanding work in sustainable development and environmental stewardship.”

The Walnut Creek Wetland Center, phase one of a project that is transforming abused wetlands near downtown Raleigh into a natural resource and learning center, won the Green Design (Built Environment) category. The 7000-square-foot building is poised six feet above the wetlands flood plain. All-wood construction utilizes recycled materials wherever possible, and windows welcome the surroundings into the building as they facilitate natural ventilation and illumination. Circulation occurs outside the building across a large porch that projects out into the environment. A geothermal system provides HVAC needs, photovoltaic panels generate electricity, and the metal roof’s deep overhang protects the interior from the summer sun. Rainwater runoff is collected in cisterns and storm water runoff is filtered before it returns to Walnut Creek.

Designed by Harmon’s firm as a pro bono gift to the JC Raulston Arboretum, the Lath House is an open-air laboratory for experimental horticultural techniques and methods. Designed as an abstract of a tree spreading its branches to protect the plants, according to Harmon, the structure is comprised of wooden two-by-twos that fulfill the specific light-to-shade ratio young plants need in the spring and shelter the plants as they prepare to be transitioned into larger gardens in the arboretum. The Lath House also provides an accessible community garden for the City of Raleigh, and an educational asset to the State of North Carolina within this nationally acclaimed arboretum.

Both the Walnut Creek Wetland Center and the JC Raulston Arboreum Lath House have already received international attention, appearing on, one of the largest architectural websites/ezines in the world.

For more information on both projects and on Frank Harmon Architect PA, visit

About Frank Harmon Architect PA:

Frank Harmon Architect PA is an award-winning architectural firm located in Raleigh, NC, and recognized nationally as a leader in modern, innovative, sustainable and regionally appropriate design. In 2010, the firm was ranked 13th out of the top 50 firms in the nation by Architect magazine and Frank Harmon, FAIA, founder and principal, was included in Residential Architect’s recent “RA 50: The short list of architects we love.” The firm’s work has been featured in numerous books, magazines, journals and online magazines on architecture, including, Dwell, Architectural Record, Architect, and Residential Architect. For more information, go to

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