Frank Harmon Architect PA Announces New Project Architects

John Caliendo, AIA

John Caliendo, AIA, and Michael Spinello, LEED AP, join the award-winning firm.


October 13, 2010 (RALEIGH, NC) – Frank Harmon, FAIA, principal and founder of Frank Harmon Architect PA in Raleigh, has announced that John Caliendo, AIA, and Michael Spinello, LEEP AP, have joined his award-winning firm.

Michael Spinello, LEED AP

Originally from New York City, Caliendo is a LEED AP Professional and an adjunct professor of architect at NC State University’s College of Design. Before joining Harmon’s firm, he was principal of his own firm, John Caliendo Architect in Raleigh. Previous work experience includes years of practice with Peace Brinkley Cease + Lee and Kenneth Hobgood Architect, both in Raleigh. He has extensive experience in commercial, institutional and residential architecture.


Caliendo received a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and economics from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 1990 and graduated cum laude with a Masters in Architecture from NCSU in 1995. He has served on the Advisory Board for the Department of Interior Architecture at UNC-Greensboro, on the Advisory Board for Design Corps in Raleigh, and as a member of the Isosceles Awards Committee with the Triangle chapter of the American Institute of Architects.


“I first met Frank Harmon as a student at NC State College of Design,” Caliendo said. “From my student years and throughout my professional career, Frank has been extremely supportive and has served as a source of inspiration. Now, given the opportunity to work alongside him, it’s a rare privilege. I am very excited.”


Michael Spinello was born in Berkeley, California in 1971, the son of university professors who moved around the country before settling in Auburn, AL. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Chapman University in Orange, California, in 1994. He received a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree from Auburn University in 1999 and spent a semester at Auburn’s acclaimed Rural Studio. In 2004, Spinello earned his Master of Architecture degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also a LEEP AP Professional.


Spinello’s previous work experience includes five years at Cooper Carry Architects in Atlanta in the Planning, Mixed-use and Science & Technology studios where he led the successful effort to win the competition for the Gwinnett Tech Life Sciences Building, now in construction.


Spinello has taught architecture and landscape architecture studios at MIT, Georgia Tech, and Auburn University. He also taught Professional Practice of Architecture at Auburn and has been a guest speaker at the annual Auburn University Rural Studio alumni event. This year, he worked with Professor Emeritus Norbert Lechner of Auburn University on a high-efficiency, region-specific, low-cost housing prototype called the Alabama Energy House, currently seeking construction funding.


“Many of the extraordinary challenges to be faced in the 21st century will be solved through design,” Spinello said. “Issues ranging from rapid urbanization and energy conservation, to preservation of regional cultures and the creation of environments of distinction and delight, will require a holistic approach to designed solutions. I am extremely proud to be a part of the Frank Harmon Architect team. I can think of no better place to engage these issues first-hand and to make architecture that matters.”


Frank Harmon Architect PA is recognized nationally as a leader in innovative, modern, and regionally inspired “green” architecture. For more information visit


About Frank Harmon Architect PA:


Frank Harmon Architect PA was founded in 1985 by Frank Harmon, FAIA, who is also Professor in Practice at NC State University and the 1995 recipient of the Kamphoefner Prize for Distinguished Design over a Ten-Year Period. 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 that blend sustainable architecture with stewardship of the natural environment include Duke University’s Ocean Science Teaching Center in Beaufort, the NC Botanical Garden’s new Visitors Center at UNC-Chapel Hill, and the Walnut Creek Wetlands Center in Raleigh. 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

NC Botanical Garden’s New LEED Platinum Education Center Opens

On the breezeway during the dedication ceremony October 12.
On the breezeway during the dedication ceremony October 12.

October 13, 2009 (CHAPEL HILL, NC) – Frank Harmon Architect PA of Raleigh, NC, has completed the North Carolina Botanical Garden’s new and thoroughly “green” 29,656-square-foot  Education Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Governor Beverly Perdue attended the dedication ceremony and praised the project for being slated as the first LEED Platinum certified building in the state.

A multi-award-winning “green” architect, Frank Harmon, FAIA, designed the center as a cluster of eco-friendly buildings, connected by breezeways and covered porches, that nestle into a wooded hillside.

Botanical1The “Flow of Ideas Exhibit” and Information Hall comprises the center section, along with a gift shop, library, and an area for plant sales. The Reeves Auditorium is located the western section, and the eastern wing houses classrooms and offices.

The cluster composition – or “family of buildings,” as Harmon likes to call it – serves as a gateway to the Botanical Garden and allows visitors to flow through the exterior space to the gardens behind the center and on to the trails and adjacent creek.

A new parking lot with porous paving provides access from Old Mason Farm Road to the Center. New gardens, to be developed over the next two years, will create expanded outdoor spaces.

A view showing one of the Center's rainwater collection cisterns.
A view showing one of the Center's rainwater collection cisterns.

All systems and materials in the Education Center were designed to minimize environmental impact and support human health. Green technologies include photovoltaic panels, above- and below-ground rainwater cisterns, bio-retention ponds, geothermal heating and cooling, natural day-lighting, and low-flow plumbing. Construction materials were obtained from within a 500-mile radius, including lumber milled from the site. Recycled components include steel beams made out of scrap metal from automobiles.

Embracing all the principles of sustainable design, the NC Botanical Garden Visitor’s Education Center is slated to receive LEED-Platinum certification.

“This is a gentle building with a green heart, embracing its North Carolina hillside and forming a doorway for future generations,” Harmon said.

Botanical2Director Peter White has called the Center a “generously proportioned, green, and welcoming facility [that] will have a transformative impact on the way the Garden is experienced.”

Harmon noted that all stakeholders in the project — staff, visitors, faculty, Foundation and neighbors – actively participated in the design concept.

“We facilitated 20 design workshops, drawing on the energy and knowledge of all constituents to create the building and landscape design,” he said.

Frank Harmon, FIAA (photo by f8 Photo Studios)
Frank Harmon, FAIA (photo by f8 Photo Studios)

David Swanson served as the landscape architect for the project. Isaac Panzarella PE of Consider Design created the mechanical and green systems design. Carl Simmons PE served as civil engineering and Charles Murphy PE served as structural design. The project manager was Matt Griffith, AIA, of Frank Harmon Architecture PA.

The grand opening and dedication took place October 12 to coincide with University Day, which celebrates the laying of the cornerstone of the first building at UNC-Chapel Hill.

For more information on the North Carolina Botanical Garden and its new Education Center, go to

For more information on Frank Harmon visit
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