Leaving The Land Better Than We Find It: Frank Harmon Takes His Message To Idea Exchange

Frank Harmon, FAIA

February 2, 2010 (RALEIGH, NC) — For three decades, Frank Harmon, FAIA, principal of Frank Harmon Architect PA in Raleigh, has insisted that architecture can and should do more than produce buildings, especially since conservation of energy and natural resources has become imperative. It should also make a didactic contribution, he says, demonstrating the best use of the land by responding to, respecting, and conserving the site; integrating building and landscape; and promoting both passive and technological sustainable design principles.

Harmon, a multi-award winning architect and frequent speaker at seminars and symposia on design, will again make his case for sustainable building and development at the Center for Design Innovation in Winston-Salem, NC, when he participates in the CDI’s Idea Exchange on Tuesday, February 16, from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

CDI is a multi-campus research center for the statewide University of North Carolina. According to its website, the Idea Exchange is “a public forum for considering creative processes, digital techniques, business strategies, and other interests related to developing the knowledge economy of North Carolina’s Piedmont region.”

Frank Harmon is well known nationally for his firm’s modern, innovative, “green” and regionally appropriate architecture. From September to November 2009, he saw the completion of three high-performance, or “green,” projects in North Carolina, including the NC Botanical Gardens Visitor Education Center at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill that is slated to be the state’s first LEED Platinum building – the highest level of certification given by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building rating system.

“It seems natural to me to design green buildings,” he said, “to catch the sun, accept the breeze and grown naturally out of the earth.”

In lectures and seminars, and as a Professor in Practice at  NC State University’s College of Design, Harmon frequently asserts the necessity for modern buildings to be regionally appropriate – to address the specific context, materials, textures, colors and forms of a special region, using both traditional and non-traditional methods.

“The most sustainable – and liberating – thing we can do is acknowledge the places we are in,” he told Dwell magazine in January of 2008 when he was featured in the magazine’s “Conversations” section.

The CDI’s Idea Exchange is held in the Winston Tower, Suite 2105 (21st floor) at 301 North Main Street in downtown Winston-Salem.

Currently CDI’s constituent schools are the UNC School of the Arts and Winston-Salem State University, collaborating with Forsyth Technical Community College. Sessions are recorded and web-streamed for remote access. For more information, go to www.centerfordesigninnovation.org.

For more information on Frank Harmon, visit www.frankharmon.com.

About Frank Harmon Architect PA:

Frank Harmon Architect PA, a multi-award-winning firm headquartered in downtown Raleigh, has extensive experience with projects that blend architecture with enhancement of the environment, including the recently completed Walnut Creek Urban Wetlands Park Educational Center in Raleigh, Duke University’s Ocean Science Teaching Center in Beaufort, the NC Botanical Garden’s new Visitors Center in Chapel Hill, and Merchants Millpond Outdoor Educational building in Gatesville, N.C. His work has been featured in numerous books, journals and magazines on architecture, including Dwell, Architectural Record, and Residential Architect. For more information, go to www.frankharmon.com.

Raleigh Landscape Architect Joins NCSCC Advisory Committee

Dennis Glazener, ASLA

January 20, 2010 (RALEIGH, NC) – Landscape architect Dennis Glazener, RLA, principal of Bell/Glazener Design Group, has been appointed to the Technical Advisory Committee for the North Carolina Sedimentation Control Commission (NCSCC).

The Advisory Committee’s first 2010 meeting will be held in February. Its first task will be to draft guidelines for the Falls Lake Watershed.

Dennis Glazener has practiced landscape architecture, land planning, environmental design and ecological stewardship since 1979. His range of experience includes recreation planning, educational environments, downtown redevelopment, commercial and residential design.

He will bring his knowledge of environmental stewardship to bear on the Technical Advisory Committee, which will assist the NCSCC as it administers the Sedimentation Control Program required by the N.C. Sedimentation Pollution Control Act of 1973 (SPCA). The Sedimentation Control Program is responsible for adopting rules, setting standards, and providing guidance for implementation of the Act.

“Land quality affects water quality,” Glazener explained. “The Falls Lake Watershed carries water that is literally ‘shed’ from the land after it rains. So erosion and sedimentation control is vital not only to the water quality of Falls Lake but also to public health and welfare and the future of the region.”

The Falls Lake assignment is especially poignant for Glazener who personally worked on the initial Master Plan Document for the Army Corps of Engineers over 30 years ago as one of his first projects with Bell Design Group, the former firm of master landscape architect Richard C. Bell, FASLA.

According to Glazener, the Falls Lake Project, encompassing 38,000 acres, was initially conceived of as a flood control reservoir in the 1920’s. It evolved into a multi-purpose resource of significant value as a water supply, recre­ation area and wildlife habitat. Bell Design Group created the master plan for the federal, state and local government agencies as a long-range planning and development document.

For more information on the NSCC, visit www.dlr.enr.state.nc.us/pages/ncsedcontrolcommission.html.

For more information on Dennis Glazener and Bell/Glazener Design Group, go to www.bgjdesign.com.

About Bell/Glazener Design Group:

For over 50 years, Bell/Glazener Design Group has provided design services to commercial, residential, and institutional clients in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Projects range from residential landscape architecture to extensive regional planning, urban design, campus planning, land use-master planning and sports-recreational planning. For more information visit www.bgjdesign.com or call 919-787-3515.

“Green” Architects To Participate In Educational Event at Prairie Ridge Eco-Station

Prairie Ridge Outdoor Classroom
Prairie Ridge Outdoor Classroom

May 11, 2009 (RALEIGH, NC) – Will Lambeth and Tim Martin, architectural interns at Frank Harmon Architect PA in Raleigh, will be on hand at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science’s Prairie Ridge Eco-Station in Raleigh on Thursday, May 14, to help the middle- and high-school members of the Citizen Science Investigators Club discover what makes a building “green.”

Prairie Ridge is a hands-on teaching and extension project located on a diverse 38-acre site on the edge of Raleigh. Its mission is to educating North Carolinians of all ages about the natural sciences and the importance of environmental stewardship.  and demonstrate how architecture can enhance the natural environment.

Lambeth and Martin will discuss the many sustainable features of Prairie Ridge’s award-winning “Outdoor Classroom,” which was designed by Frank Harmon’s firm not only to provide a learning space at the eco-station but also to demonstrate environmental sustainability through its design and construction.

The interns will help the club’s students understand how architecture can tread lightly on the natural environment and conserve energy in the process.

Among the many “green” features of the classroom, including construction materials, Lambeth and Martin will discuss Harmon’s decision about site orientation and how that impacted the classroom’s eco-friendly design. They will note that the wooden building’s heavy, south-facing overhang maximizes sun exposure in winter and creates shade in summer. Along with the screened walls, this orientation catches year-round southwesterly breezes. Together, these design elements conserve an enormous amount of energy normally used for lighting and HVAC systems.

Prairie Ridge sponsors the Citizen Science Investigators Club with middle and high school students. According to Brian F. Hahn, a natural resource specialist at Prairie Ridge, the students are very interested in green technology so that will be the total focus of the May 14 session. The architectural interns’ presence “will also expose the students to other career opportunities they may be interested in,” he added.

Entrance to the open-air Outdoor Classroom at Prairie Ridge
Entrance to the open-air Outdoor Classroom at Prairie Ridge

For more information on the Prairie Ridge Eco-Station, go to www.naturalsciences.org/prairie-ridge-ecostation.

The Outdoor Classroom has received two design awards and has been featured in two national architectural journals. For more information on the project and on Frank Harmon Architect PA, visit http://www.frankharmon.com.

posted by blueplatepr

Taking A Turn To Sustainable Living

Award-winning Charleston, SC, architect Whitney Powers, AIA, has spent her entire career advocating sustainable design and the adaptive reuse of existing structures – the ultimate form of “recycling.” For her efforts, Skirt! Magazine in Charleston dubbed her a “green goddess” last year. Here, she offers some common sense tips for embracing a more sustainable lifestyle.


Whitney in "Skirt!" magazine
Whitney in "Skirt!" magazine

By Whitney  Powers, AIA, Studio A, Inc.
January 15, 2008 (CHARLESTON, SC) — Apart from building a brand new “green” home with all the technological bells and whistles, trading in your gas-guzzler for a hybrid car, and all the other obvious steps toward greener living — recycling, compact fluorescent bulbs, carrying your reusable bags to the grocery store – consider these simple suggestions for assuming a more sustainable lifestyle in and around your home.

• Appreciate rituals that enhance your indoor air quality. Clean, bag and stow out-of-season clothes and bedding that add so much lint to the air. Change those HVAC filters once a month if you use a fireplace, every other month if you don’t. Vacuum and dust often. And open your windows whenever the weather is temperate and humidity levels are at or below 70 percent.

• To save money and reduce energy consumption, increase your thermostat setting to 75°F in the summer, decrease it to 68°F in the winter, and turn it off completely during those magical, lingering “shoulder” seasons. Since central air conditioning became widespread in the 1960s, we have become remarkably accustomed to overly conditioned interiors. If you’re over 50, wax nostalgic for a moment and consider the hum of the whole-house fan. For the rest of us, it is time to wake up and recognize just how wasteful we’ve become. How often have you wished you had a sweater when you go to grocery store in July? That’s a serious example of air conditioning overkill!

• If you need to do some around-the-home renovations beyond normal maintenance – say, replacing your kitchen cabinets — consider donating items you’ve slated for demolition so that they can be reused. A call to the Harmony Warehouse, Sustainable Warehouse, or Habitat for Humanity can result in demolition assistance and a tax write-off for the items they remove to reuse. This also counts should you opt to replace any of your old, inefficient appliances with “Energy Star” models.

• Turn off the television and read a book, especially if you have one of those energy-hogging plasma or LCD models. Join a book club or start one in your own family. We’re reading Sherlock Holmes with our nine-year-old. What about a little Dickens for these uncertain days: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…“ And remember to take advantage of the county library or your local used bookstore. Blue Bicycle Books in Charleston has a good selection of classics at bargain prices.

• Get a bicycle and use it. How much time do you spend in a car every week? Is it really necessary? Commuting by bicycle makes much more sense in downtown Charleston than driving a car: no parking problems and it’s a great family experience. The advocacy group Charleston Moves has been hard at work to make this easier and Holy City Bike Co-op has a monthly workshop at Marion Square for tips on maintaining and safely making your trip.

• For the gardeners among us, the Lowcountry is a paradise and the possibilities for enhancing the home landscape and habitat are almost unlimited. Plant shade trees where none exist. They’ll help you cool your home in the summer and can lower the ambient temperature in your entire neighborhood. Choose native plants with the help of our Lowcountry chapter of the South Carolina Native Plant Society. Their annual plant sales, usually held at Charlestowne Landing, include plenty of advice. Consider the four-part gardening series at Mepkin Abbey, “Gardening with Native Plants,” that starts on February 14. Take a walk through the Unitarian Churchyard for a little insight into the wild “English” garden potential on this count. And remember: A cistern or rain barrel can provide more than enough water for your needs (make sure it has a top to keep mosquitoes out). A compost bin (with a mesh bottom to keep out the varmints) can provide you with a continuous source of rich hummus for your planting areas.

• Gardening in the urban landscape is also something to promote. The “guerilla gardening” concept, founded in London, has found its way to Charleston through the efforts of Annie Mueller, founder of the floral design business A New Leaf Studio. The first sojourn was in Eliotborough in October. The concept is simple and includes planting in public areas that are woefully disused. Check out the London website: http://www.guerillagardening.org. Community gardens are another possibility. I’ve spied excellent plots near some of the churches along the crosstown. Wouldn’t a community garden as part of the Moultrie Playground/Colonial Lake renovations be great? Community gardening has become huge in New York. If they can do it, why can’t we?

• Don’t just throw out old clothes. Put them into consignment or resale shops. Better yet, mend them or come up with a creative way to update them for an extra season’s wear.

Consider these tips “talking points” to help you open the door on your own examination of your lifestyle choices. There are so many ways that we can tread more lightly on the planet so its wonders and its resources are available to future generations.

REI Donates To “Trees Across Raleigh”

November 24, 2008 (RALEIGH, NC) — Trees Across Raleigh, Inc., is pleased to announce that REI Corporation has donated $5000 to the non-profit organization’s efforts to improve the City of Raleigh’s appearance by planting trees in public spaces.

REI representatives presented the check to Trees Across Raleigh at the organization’s Fall tree planting held November 1 at Nash Square in downtown Raleigh.

A volunteer and donation-based non-profit organization, Trees Across Raleigh has been planting trees in the Capital City since 1997. Working with the Raleigh Parks & Recreation Department, over 4300 Trees Across Raleigh volunteers have planted more than 8000 trees in public rights-of-way, medians and parks at a value of over $1 million.

REI is one of the largest retailers of outdoor gear and clothing in the United States. The company donates millions of dollars and thousands of hours to nonprofit organizations in communities across the country every year.

REI has been a strong corporate sponsor for Trees Across Raleigh for the last four years, providing both financial aid and volunteer support.

For more information on Trees Across Raleigh, visit http://www.treesacrossraleigh.org.

For more information on REI’s community outreach and environmental stewardship, visit http://www.rei.com.


Landscape Architect Dick Bell Makes 2007 Who’s Who List

Award-winning landscape architect Dick Bell, FASLA, who recently relocated to Atlantic Beach, NC, after 52 years of living and working in Raleigh, has been included in Metro Magazine’s 2007 Who’s Who list of men and women who have made significant contributions to the state’s Triangle region.

Each January, Raleigh’s Metro Magazine recognizes men and women who have ”quietly and effectively accomplished great things that help keep [the Triangle region] on top of the list in national and global achievement,” according to editor and publisher Bernie Reeves. These men and women comprise the magazine’s annual Who’s Who list, and the 2008 roster appears in the January edition now on newsstands and at http://www.metronc.com.

Bell, a fellow of both the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and the American Academy in Rome, was cited for spending “a lifetime living up to a personal edict: ‘I want to leave a little beauty behind wherever I go.’

“Thousands of people have been touched by Dick Bell’s work,” writes Metro. “The children who play among the rolling hills and lush gardens of Raleigh’s Pullen Park, the students and faculty who stroll along NC State University’s famed ‘Brickyard’ and Student Center sculpture plaza, the crowds who gather by the little lake at Meredith College’s amphitheatre for concerts or weddings, downtown folks who enjoy the fountains, benches and green space within Moore Square Transit block – these are only a few places among nearly 2000 projects where Bell has left ‘a little beauty behind’ throughout his 52-year career.”

Bell and his wife, Mary Jo, moved permanently to the condominium they’ve owned in Tar Landing Villas in Atlantic Beach since Bell masterplanned that development over 30 years ago. He intends to continue his pursuit of “leaving a little beauty behind” on the coast, he said.

Established in 1999, the four-color monthly Metro Magazine has a circulation of 40,000 and covers the region from the Triangle to the coast. For more information, go to http://www.metronc.com.