Studio A Shares Special Design Award for Charleston Church Addition

2010 Religious Art & Architecture Awards Announced


December 15, 2010 (CHARLESTON, SC) – The new “green” Sunday school

© Richard Leo Johnson

addition at the Circular Congregational Church on Market Street in downtown Charleston has received a design award in the “New Facilities” category from Faith & Form Magazine and the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture (IFRAA). The building was designed by Frank Harmon Architect PA of Raleigh, NC, with Whitney Powers, AIA, of Studio A in Charleston, serving as primary consultant and building committee chair.


Powers was responsible for bringing in Frank Harmon, FAIA, a leader among the nation’s “green” architects, to design the structure. It was completed in 2007.


According to Powers, founder and principal of Studio A, the addition to the oldest church in Charleston was sensitively sited on an isolated section of the churchyard to lessen its intrusion on the cemetery there.


A thoroughly eco-friendly, or “green,” structure, the two-story, 3000-square-foot building includes a vegetated roof, geothermal heating and cooling system, a rainwater collection cistern for landscape use, recycled building materials wherever possible, open-air porches, and window placement to maximize natural lighting and ventilation.


The Sunday school building has received Honor Awards from the North Carolina chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA NC) and AIA Triangle, a section of AIA NC. The building’s vegetated roof  — Charleston’s first green roof – has been featured on


Whitney Powers, AIA, Studio A, Inc.

Whitney Powers’ Building Committee also received the Historic Charleston Foundation’s Founders Award for the church’s addition.


According to the awards jury, the best liturgical architecture projects of the nearly 200 submitted “maintained a remarkable consistency throughout – from building exteriors, interiors, and furnishings, to the landscape.”


Faith & Form is the AIA’s quarterly interfaith journal on religion, art and architecture. The annual design awards program is co-sponsored by Faith & Form and the (IFRAA), a Knowledge Community of the AIA. The awards program was founded in 1978 to honor the best in architecture, liturgical design, and art for religious spaces. For more information on the IFRAA/Faith & Form awards, go to


About Studio A, Inc.:


Founded in 1989 by Whitney Powers, AIA, Studio A, Inc. is an award-winning, full-service architecture firm located in downtown Charleston, SC. The firm proposes that the responsibility of architecture is to cultivate a language of form that promotes a sustainable culture and landscape, and that touches the emotions of delight, surprise and wonder. From cutting-edge contemporary architecture to the preservation and restoration of historic homes, structures and sites, Studio A is committed to an interactive relationship between the natural and built environments, conservation of energy and natural resources, and an appreciation for a “sense of place” where living, working and playing are connected with the specific idiosyncrasies of culture, climate and natural landscape where they take place. For more information visit

Charleston Architect Serves On AIA/Tennessee Awards Jury

Whitney Powers, AIA
Whitney Powers, AIA

August 24, 2009 (MEMPHIS, TN) — South Carolina architect Whitney Powers, AIA, principal and president of the award-winning firm Studio A, Inc., in Charleston, was among the jurors who recently selected nine award winners out of 97 entries during the American Institute of Architects/Tennessee’s 2009 Design Awards program.

A LEED-certified practitioner, Powers brought her expertise in sustainable architecture to bear on the jury proceedings, as well as her experience in adaptive reuse of existing buildings and restoration/preservation of historic structures.

AIA/Tennessee includes over 1000 members from small to large architectural firms and working within university, government and industry settings. The annual design awards program recognizes Tennessee architects’ design contributions and promotes awareness of the value of architecture in the state.

Projects submitted represented new construction, renovation/restoration, and architectural interior design.

All of the judges for the 2009 program are based in Charleston, SC. Joining Powers on the jury were Ray Huff, Thompson Penney, FAIA, and Brian T. Hurst. The judging took place in Charleston.

For more information on the AIA/Tennessee award winners, go to www.aia/

For more information on Whitney Powers, visit

About Studio A, Inc.

Founded by Whitney Powers, AIA, Studio A, Inc., is an award-winning, full-service architecture firm located in historic downtown Charleston, South Carolina, specializing in sustainable, “green” architecture and historic preservation/adaptive re-use. From cutting-edge, contemporary architecture to the preservation and restoration of historic homes and sites, Studio A is committed to an interactive relationship between the natural and built environments. The firm includes Heritage Strategy Group, a planning initiative headed by Edwin Gardner that develops recreational areas and scenic byways so that local businesses prosper while the natural, historical and cultural heritage of the effected area are preserved and enhanced.

Ocean Conservation Center Featured On’s “Ten Best Environmental Programs” List

Duke University's first LEED Gold building, designed by Frank Harmon
Duke University's first LEED Gold building, designed by Frank Harmon

(BEAUFORT, NC) – The Ocean Conservation Center in Beaufort, NC, designed by Raleigh, NC-based Frank Harmon Architect PA, is one of the reasons has placed Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth  Sciences on its list of “10 of the Best College Environmental Program in the U.S.” is an international media outlet dedicated to driving sustainability issues into mainstream discourse. Contributor Blythe Copeland offers the following about Duke’s program:

“Students at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences choose from undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral degrees in concentrations that include environmental studies and policy, earth and ocean sciences, and environmental law. The University also maintains a hands-on Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, NC, where courses on biology, science and nature writing, and marine policy take place in the Gold LEED-certified conservation center. Doctoral candidates have three research areas to pick from: marine science and conservation, which includes marine ecology and coastal geology; earth and ocean sciences, comprising climate change and solid earth processes; and environmental studies and policy, which focuses on ecosystem science and aquatic and atmospheric sciences.”

Located on Piver’s Island at the head of the Beaufort Inlet, the Ocean Conservation Center provides state-of-the-art teaching facilities for Duke’s Marine Lab, while identifying and demonstrating innovative, environmentally sound design and construction technology. Completed in 2006 as Duke’s only Gold LEED-certified building, the Center features photovoltaic cells, geothermal heating and cooling, and recycled and local materials wherever possible. The building was featured as a case study in Environmental Design + Construction magazine in June of this year.

Treehugger’s complete list of Best College Environmental Programs in the U.S. can be seen at www.treehugger. com. For more information on Duke’s program, go to

For more information on Frank Harmon Architecture PA, visit

Located on Piver's Island at the head of the Beaufort Inlet, the Ocean Conservation Center provides state-of-the-art teaching facilities for Duke's Marine Lab.
Located on Piver's Island at the head of the Beaufort Inlet, the Ocean Conservation Center provides state-of-the-art teaching facilities for Duke's Marine Lab.

Raleigh Architect Serves As Judge For AIA/Northern Virginia Awards

Frank Harmon, FAIA
Frank Harmon, FAIA

May 12, 2009 (RALEIGH, NC) — North Carolina architect Frank Harmon, FAIA, principal of the award-winning firm Frank Harmon Architect PA in Raleigh, will serve as juror for the North Virginia Chapter of the AIA 2009 Design Awards. The judging will take place in the offices of Pearce Brinkley Cease & Lee in Raleigh on May 15. Harmon will present the winners in Alexandria, Virginia on June 8.

Frank Harmon is a recognized leader in modern “green” architecture and an adjunct professor of architect at North Carolina State University’s College of Design. He is also a frequent juror for design awards programs across the country and a frequent speaker at design conferences on the subject of modern, innovative, regional architecture.

The AIA Northern Virginia Chapter Design Awards recognize its members’ achievements in the design of the built environment. Any licensed AIA member of the Northern Virginia Chapter may enter a project. All work submitted for the 2009 awards program had to be completed after June 1, 2004.

Categories for the awards are: Institutional Architecture, Commercial Architecture, Residential Architecture, Interior Architecture, Historic Architecture, Conceptual / Unbuilt Architecture, and Urban Design and Master Planning. A special category — the Herlong Memorial Award – recognizes work by associate or intern AIA members.

AIA/Northern Virginia is headquartered in Alexandria, VA. For more information on the chapter’s awards program, go to

For more information on Frank Harmon, visit

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: 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.

Frank Harmon Selected As Commencement Speaker

Frank Harmon, FAIA
Frank Harmon, FAIA

December 10, 2008 (RALEIGH, NC) –  Frank Harmon, FAIA, an award-winning “green” architect and Professor in Practice at N.C. State University’s College of Design, will deliver the commencement address for the College’s December graduates, dean Marvin Malecha  announced recently.

College of Design commencement exercises will take place December 17 at 1:30 p.m. in Stewart Theatre in N.C. State’s Talley Student Center.

“Frank has gained a national reputation for his work and is now a regular speaker at universities and conference programs around the country,” Melecha said. “He has built a reputation for environmentally sensitive work that is underpinned by a deep understanding of regionalism and a special care for craft. His accomplishments have reflected well on our community.”

Harmon is a 1961 graduate of N.C. State University. He joined the College of Design’s architecture department faculty in 1985. He has also served as a visiting critic at Columbia University, the University of Toronto, the University of Virginia, UNC-Charlotte, the University of Liverpool, and Cambridge University. In 1995 he received the Kamphoefner Prize For Distinguished Design Over A Ten-Year Period, an annual honoring the founding dean of the College of Design, Henry Kamphoefner.

A fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Frank Harmon founded his firm, Frank Harmon Architect PA, in 1985. Since then, he has become a nationally recognized leader in sustainable, regional design. His work has been featured in numerous publications and exhibits on the subject, including the book The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture and a special exhibit on green architecture at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.

From 2005-2007 he served on the United States General Services Administration’s National Register of Peer Professionals, which strives to improve the quality of public buildings.

Last year, he received First Place in a professional competition to design a new, thoroughly sustainable headquarters facility for the AIA’s North Carolina component, to be built in downtown Raleigh, which dean Melecha says he believes “will be recognized internationally.”

For more information visit

UNC Asheville Selects Frank Harmon as Architect for Craft Campus; Site Set To Go From Landfill to Landmark

The view captured Frank Harmon’s imagination.

Frank Harmon, FAIA
Frank Harmon, FAIA

Standing on a grassy bluff overlooking the French Broad River, the third oldest river in the world, the acclaimed Raleigh architect knew for sure that he wanted to design the buildings that would one day become UNC Asheville’s Craft Campus.

The natural beauty of the Craft Campus site as well as its surprising past inspired Harmon. Its sweeping vistas offer “a view that’s every bit as good as Biltmore Estate and yet it was a former trash dump,” he said.

The site, once a Buncombe County landfill, has been re-purposed as UNC Asheville’s Craft Campus. The site, just four miles from main campus, will be a complex of environmentally friendly classrooms and studios for the teaching and learning of the region’s renowned studio craft traditions. Methane and other alternative fuels generated on-site will serve as “green” energy sources to power kilns, furnaces, forges and other critical infrastructure.

The University has set the Craft Campus on a mission to become the leading undergraduate craft studies program in the nation, while re-centering the modern American studio craft movement in Western North Carolina.

It will be no small task to create the buildings that will encompass this expansive vision. But Harmon, who was recently tapped to lead the design of the Craft Campus, is more than up to the challenge.

At 67, Harmon has spent more than three decades creating critically acclaimed spaces for people to live and work. His craftsmanship is highly regarded by both his peers and architecture critics. He has won more than a dozen honors from the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, including one earlier this year. Time magazine named his Rake and Hoe building in Raleigh as one of the 10 best in the nation in 1988. BusinessWeek and Architectural Record lauded his metalworking studio at Penland School of Crafts.

Jean McLaughlin, Penland School of Crafts director, is quick to add her voice to the praise.

“Students and instructors truly love the iron studio. Our studio coordinator who first worked in the facility said that he thought the studio itself motivated students to do even better work,” McLaughlin said. “At Penland we teach through demonstrations and one-on-one guidance, so it has been important to have instructors tell us that the space functions really well.”

In addition to the metalworking studio at Penland School of Crafts, Harmon has also designed a number of other working and learning spaces for artists, including the North Carolina Pottery Studio in Seagrove, the Star Works Factory for artists in Star, N.C., and several private studios.

But Harmon isn’t just passionate about the arts, he’s also dedicated to sustainability. He’s worked on a number of ecologically sound projects from the Ocean Conservation Center in Beaufort, N.C., to the Walnut Creek Urban Wetlands Educational Park in Raleigh. This ethos fits perfectly with UNC Asheville’s Craft Campus mission.

“The possibility of being able to use methane on the site as a fuel source was very attractive to me,” Harmon said. “Our firm has been focused on sustainable buildings for decades. This just seemed a beautiful opportunity to give something back to a piece of landscape that had, in a sense, been taken away.”

Craft Campus Director Brent Skidmore said that these sensibilities, as well as Harmon’s impressive design record, made his firm the clear choice. The eight-member committee fielded 19 applicants and held interviews with five architectural firms. They agreed unanimously on choosing Harmon’s firm.

“Frank’s signature is an excellent match for our project,” Skidmore said.

Harmon’s vision for the campus began to materialize during the search process and is continuing to take shape.

“It will be a place that respects the land where it is built and the ecological traditions of the region. It will seem very much at home in its surroundings. And it goes without saying that it will be a building that is provident of energy and resources; it will be sustaining,” Harmon said. “So, it will be very much at home on the site but at the same time we’d like it to express that it is a building of today and represents the best that crafts have to offer as we move forward into the 21st century.”

Through a generous lease arrangement with Buncombe County, UNC Asheville’s Craft Campus will be located on a 153-acre site north of the University. The design process will begin in December. The campus is expected to open in four to five years.

The design team includes Frank Harmon Architect, Altamont Environmental Inc., Ambient Design Group, Cavanaugh & Associates, Costing Services Group, 4SE Inc. and RMF Engineering Inc.