NCMH Announces October Trip To Frank Lloyd Wright’s Masterpiece, “Fallingwater”

FallingwaterXSA popular annual pilgrimage that includes FLW’s Kentuck Knob and Usonian houses

Nonprofit preservation group North Carolina Modernist Houses (NCMH) has announced its seventh annual pilgrimage to Fallingwater, American architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s residential masterpiece in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands, on Saturday and Sunday, October 1-2, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

NCMH is a non-profit organization based in Durham, NC, and dedicated to archiving, preserving, and promoting Modernist residential design from the 1950s to today. Since 2010, NCMH founder and director George Smart has organized annual trips to Fallingwater, the most famous Modernist house in America. One past participant declared the trip “a Modernist adventure of the highest order.” Another called it “a lifetime experience.”

About Fallingwater: Wright designed Fallingwater as a vacation house for the Kaufman family of Pittburgh. It was built between 1936 and 1939 over a 30-foot waterfall. The house doesn’t seem to stand on solid ground but instead stretches out over the waterfall. In 1938, Fallingwater captured the nation’s imagination when it appeared on the cover of Time magazine. Today it is a National Historic Landmark.

A few miles away from Fallingwater, the NCMH group will also tour Kentuck Knob, a house Wright designed in the last decade of his life that features a celebrated sculpture garden. And in nearby Polymath Park, the group will tour Wright’s 1957 “Usonian” Duncan House as well as two Usonian-inspired houses. “Usonian” was Wright’s concept of practical, functional, affordable housing for middle-class families that would redefine how people thought of their living spaces.

Tickets for this year’s Fallingwater pilgrimage include:

  • The American Airlines flight direct from RDU to Pittsburgh and return flight
  • Wi-Fi equipped ground transportation throughout the tour
  • Hotel accommodations (double and single occupancy)
  • Breakfasts, lunches, and dinner Saturday night
  • Guided tours of Fallingwater, Kentuck Knob, and the three houses in Polymath Park.

The journey will begin when the group gathers at RDU at 9:30 a.m., October 1, for the 11 a.m. flight to Pittsburgh. The return flight will leave Pittsburgh at 6:10 p.m. October 2.

Tickets for the Fallingwater trip sell out quickly, so Smart urges anyone interested to purchase his or her ticket soon. Architects can receive self-reported CEU hours if they make arrangements in advance with the AIA.

For see ticket prices, to purchase tickets, and for more details on this year’s trip go to

For more information on NCMH, visit

redchair smAbout 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. This year, the American Institute of Architects awarded NCMH founder and director George Smart its Collaborative Achievement Award for his work with NCMH. 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 FacebookFollow NCMH on Twitter and Instagram.

Architecture Movie Series To Present Documentary on 25 Frank Lloyd Wright Structures in California

For its first film in 2016, the MoHo Architecture Movie Series will screen MoviePromo“Romanza: The Structures of California Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright” on Thursday, January 7, in the James B. Hunt Library auditorium on NC State University’s Centennial Campus in Raleigh.

Directed by Michael Miner, “Romanza” features 25 buildings Wright designed along the West Coast, including Eddie’s House, a doghouse in keeping with the family’s home, the Robert Berger house, which he had designed previously. In 1973 the doghouse was thrown away. For a segment in “Romanza,” however, Berger’s sons Jim and Eric rebuilt Eddie’s House from the original plans. The doghouse remains the smallest structure Wright ever designed.

The film weaves details of the architect’s design principles and his life with the exploration of the 25 structures. Miner includes personal interviews with Wright experts, clients, and people who live in and work in these buildings. To see a trailer:

The Hunt Library is located at 1070 Partners Way. Raleigh, NC 27606. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door. Cash and credit cards are accepted. Mod Squad members are admitted free until capacity is reached. The first 100 NCSU students with IDs also get in free.  NCSU Friends of the Library receive 10 percent off tickets when they present their Friends of the Library cards.

Sarah Sonke of MoHo Realty is sponsoring the entire 2015-16 Architecture Movie Series. Other sponsors include VMZinc, The Kitchen Specialist, and Hill Country Woodworks of Chapel Hill.

For more information on NCMH and the entire MoHo Realty Architecture Movie Series, go to

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, Twitter, and Instagram.

MODTriangle Architecture Movie Series: “The Vision of Paolo Soleri”


soleri-movieA documentary on the late Italian architect, environmentalist, philosopher.

The 2014-15 MODTriangle Architecture Movie Series, hosted by North Carolina Modernist Houses (NCMH) and sponsored by Sarah Sonke of MODTriangle, continues Wednesday, February 4, at 7:30 p.m. with a special screening of “The Vision of Paolo Soleri: Prophet In The Desert” at Full Frame Theatre, American Tobacco Campus, in downtown Durham.

Directed by Scottsdale filmmaker Lisa Scafuro, the 2013 documentary explores Italian architect and environmentalist Paolo Soleri’s unprecedented artistic quest.

Soleri (1919-2013) came to America in 1946 to meet and mentor under Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West, Arizona. After a year and a half, Soleri left Wright to embark on a blazing original course of his own that drew people from Jimi Hendrix to Buckminster Fuller to listen and learn from the artist, philosopher, and architect.

Soleri explored the countless possibilities of human aspiration. His most outstanding endeavor is Arcosanti, an urban laboratory constructed in the Arizona high desert that focuses on innovative design, community, and environmental accountability. “Arcosanti attempts to test and demonstrate an alternative human habitat which is greatly needed in this increasingly perplexing world,” according to the Arcosanti website. Arcosanti also exemplifies Soleri’s “steadfast devotion to creating an experiential space to ‘prototype’ an environment in harmony with man.”

The film took seven years to complete but Soleri was able to view a rough cut on his final birthday in 2012. According to the Arizona news site AZCentral, Soleri enjoyed the film and gave it his approval, telling Scafuro “Bravo.”  

(To view a movie trailer on YouTube:

All tickets to the film are $10 at the door. Space is limited so movie goers are encouraged to arrive early.  Full Frame Theatre is located within the American Tobacco Campus at 320 Blackwell Street, #101, Durham, NC 27702.

Blueplate PR in Raleigh is sponsoring this special screening. Series sponsors include The Kitchen Specialist, VMZinc, Palette & Parlor, and MdM Historic Consultants.  For more information on NCMH and the entire 2014-15 Architecture Movie Series visit

redchair smAbout 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:








By Frank Harmon, FAIA

Few building forms are more familiar than the one-story gabled roof. The earliest

St. Paul's Covent Garden, by Frank Harmon

Greek temples feature this form, as do 19th century tobacco warehouses, churches, and government buildings. Our own state Capitol in Raleigh, designed by Town and Davis in 1840, is adorned by the upright columns and V-shaped roof of the earliest Greek temples.

Many architectural historians consider the temple form a descendent of an earlier forest dwelling, created by primitive builders who pulled tree branches together to create a canopied shelter. The 19th century French critic Viollet-Le-Duc thought this bowered structure of trees was the origin of all architecture.

In a swamp beside a pond in Mississippi, the esteemed architect Fay Jones, FAIA (1921-2004), who studied under Frank Lloyd Wright, added to the history of the venerable building type with an open-air pavilion called Pinecote, which was constructed in 1986 as part of the Crosby Arboretum. Like Wright, Jones believed “the nature of the land must be the generator of the architect’s work.”

I visited Pinecote in mid-May, 2011, when the magnolia trees in southern Mississippi

Pinecote sketch by Frank Harmon

were just coming into bloom. Located incongruously next to a strip mall, Crosby Arboretum was created by landscape architect Edward L. Blake Jr. (1947-2010) on 800-plus acres of pine and wetland forest. The charms of Crosby Arboretum are quiet: a forest habitat mottled in shadows, the home of pitcher plants, river otter, and bay laurel.

From one end of the mile-long arboretum to the other, the earth falls only three feet, yet 36 inches of level change creates an entire shift in habitat, from pine forest to hardwood swamp. Compared to the Grand Canyon, which is more than a mile deep, Crosby Arboretum is shallow, yet it is no less satisfying — a subtle pleasure like the song of a wood thrush.

Fay Jones’ contribution to the quiet beauty of Crosby Arboretum is less a building than a structure that frames nature. His open-air pavilion is used for picnics, gatherings, reunions, conferences, and weddings, or simply for the study of nature outside its four open sides. The inside of Pinecote is about the size of a small church sanctuary and is covered by a broadly sloping gable roof. The roof ridge runs 40 feet above a brick floor from north to south, with the south gable end opening to a view of the pond.

Above the pavilion roof swamp oaks, maples and pine trees form a secondary roof of twigs and leaves. So hidden is Pinecote that the visitor doesn’t see it until entering — like coming upon a fawn in the forest.

Jones built Pinecote almost entirely of wood, with a few ingenious steel connectors that are as light as a wedding ring.

Although the pavilion can accommodate up to 200 people, the majority of its wood pieces are less than one-and-a-half inches thick and the wood columns are small enough to put your fingers around. Rising up from the brick floor, columns branch outwards to hold the roof, like a waiter’s fingers supporting a tray. When you look up to the underside of the roof, you see through a glass ridged skylight into the sky. Descending down from the roof ridge, rafters end as slender sticks — feathers against the leaves. A shaft of sunlight creates patterns on the floor.  Breezes flow easily through the shelter. The whole has the delicate scale of the forest. Wood is left to turn silver- grey, like the tree trunks, and the shingle roof is dappled by the shadows of the forest.

A short walk along a forest path brings you to a clearing on the far side of the pond where sky and forest are reflected as olive-green and blue slivers in the dark brown water. Merging with the pond, Pinecote hovers, wide and snug, set back in the shade beneath broad eaves. Next to it, a green heron stands motionless.

Many people visiting a redwood forest remark on how they are reminded of a cathedral. The gothic cathedral is another manifestation of the gabled temple form with its clustered columns reaching heavenward. Perhaps Fay Jones had these precedents in mind when he sat down at the drawing board to design Pinecote.  Regardless, he designed a building of reverence for nature.

However dated this idea might seem in an age of cool buildings produced digitally, there is something about Pinecote that is endlessly satisfying. Fay Jones made a modest building that is just as moving as something far grander.

Triangle Modernist Houses Hosts FLW Fallingwater Tour

Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece.

Pennsylvania Architecture Tour features Frank Lloyd Wright’s world-famous “Fallingwater,” “Kentuck Knob,” and more.

July 19, 2010 (DURHAM, NC) – What special house is on many people’s “bucket list”?

Celebrated architect Frank Lloyd Wright is an American icon and his “Fallingwater” in Mill Run, PA, is a masterpiece of residential architecture.  On Saturday and Sunday, September 18th and 19th, Triangle Modernist Houses (TMH) will take 26 people to Fallingwater, plus Kentuck Knob, a nearby house also designed by Wright, and the Abrams house by the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Robert Venturi.

Fallingwater was originally commissioned for the Kaufmann family in Pittsburgh. The tour will include a special “Sunset Tour” with a private wine and cheese reception on the house’s famous bridge overlooking the waterfall (weather permitting).

“This house is simply incredible. Nothing from a book or video prepares you for the experience of visiting it in person,” says George Smart, who first made the pilgrimage in 2007.  “I came back with my design sensibilities shifted and with renewed priorities with my wife for starting a new Modernist house of our own.”

TMH will visit Wright’s Kentuck Knob house and sculpture garden, still privately owned, plus the Betty and Irving Abrams house designed by Robert Venturi with interior design by Noel Jeffrey. In the Abrams house, no walls separate the home’s kitchen, living room, bars and dining room, all of which are visible as soon as you enter the first floor. The home’s most dramatic feature is a floor-to-ceiling window shaped like a ship’s wheel and divided into eight sections.

Tickets will include round-trip direct air to Pittsburgh, wi-fi equipped bus transportation while there, catered lunches, overnight hotel accommodations, and tour admissions.  Architects receive self-reported CEU hours if arranged in advance with the AIA. Proceeds benefit TMH’s ongoing documentation, preservation, and promotion projects.

The TMH Fallingwater Tour marks the third major out-of-state modernist architecture trip organized and hosted by George Smart, TMH founder and Board Chair. Previous tours included New York City and Washington, D.C.

For all details on the TMH Fallingwater Tour, including schedule and pricing, go to  At the time of this release, there were only 12 places left.

For more information on Triangle Modernist Houses, visit

About Triangle Modernist Houses

Triangle Modernist Houses (TMH) is a 501C3 nonprofit established in 2007 to restoring and growing modernist architecture in the Triangle. The award-winning website, now the largest educational and historical archive for modernist residential design in America, continues to catalog, preserve, and advocate for North Carolina modernism.  TMH also hosts popular modernist house tours several times a year, giving the public access to the Triangle’s most exciting residential architecture, past and present. These tours raise awareness and help preserve these “works of art” for future generations. Visit the website at TMH also has an active community on Facebook.

Frank Harmon To Deliver Special Lecture at NC State University

January 28, 2010 (RALEIGH, NC) — Frank Harmon, FAIA, will deliver the annual Harwell Hamilton Harris Lecture on February 15 at 7 p.m. in the Burns Auditorium of Kamphoefner Hall at North Carolina State University’s College of Design in Raleigh.

The Havens House by Harwell Hamilton Harris. Photo by Man Ray.

Sponsored by the College of Design and the Triangle section of the American Institute of Architects/North Carolina, the annual lecture is endowed by the estate of the renowned architect Harwell Hamilton Harris, FAIA (1903-1990) who served on the faculty of NC State’s College of Design from 1962 to 1973.

Frank Harmon is a fellow of the American Institute of Architecture and a Professor in Practice at the College of Design. He is the founder and principal of Frank Harmon Architect PA, a multi-award-winning, LEED AP, green architecture firm established in 1985. He was also a close friend of Harris for many years, and he credits Harris with steering his design sensibilities towards modern, innovative and regionally appropriate design.

In 2005, when Harmon’s firm was named Top Firm of the Year by Residential Architect magazine, he told writer Vernon Mays, “[Harwell Harris] taught me that every client and every situation is different and new. And it is the architect’s job to understand the needs of every situation and every client. He loved to say that the house is a portrait of the client.”

Harris also taught Harmon to infuse warmth and familiarity into modern architecture by embracing what Harris called the “sticks and stones” of the place:  the landscape, materials, climate and culture specific to the region in which a building will be built.

“What people thought was cold and threatening modernism, he made warm and approachable,” Harmon says.

Harmon’s lecture will focus on “why Harwell Hamilton Harris is important today,” he said. “His work embraces the whole of the environment – from the living room to the city – and all the particulars that go into making a building. He was also the first architect to write about the importance of regionalism in modern architecture.”

Harmon will discuss specific Harris projects – including his personal home and office on Cox Avenue in downtown Raleigh and St. Giles Presbyterian Church in North Raleigh – that strongly influenced Harmon’s own work.

Originally from California, Harwell Hamilton Harris was a sculptor who changed careers after he visited Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in Los Angeles. He worked with Richard Neutra from 1928 until 1932 then merged the ideals of modern and California regionalist architecture into his residential work of the ‘30s and ‘40s. He served as Dean for the University of Texas School of Architecture from 1952-1955 and practiced in Dallas until 1962 when he moved to Raleigh to teach at NC State. He retired from teaching in 1973 but continued to practice until shortly before his death. He was a professor emeritus at the university when he died at the age of 87.

The Harwell Hamilton Harris Lecture is free and open to the public. Parking is available in the Coliseum parking deck. Limited parking may also be found in the Riddick or Peele parking lots after 5 pm. Parking along campus streets is not permitted unless otherwise noted.

For more information on the lecture call 919.515.8350.

For more information on Frank Harmon, go to

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