Triangle Modernist Debunks Modernist Houses Myths

Founder/director George Smart counters “flat-roof” prejudice. 

The Strickland-Ferris House by Frank Harmon, FAIA

May 12, 2011 (Durham, NC) – George Smart of Durham, NC, has spent the past four years working to document, preserve, and promote Modernist residential design through his award-winning website Triangle Modernist Modernist residential design typically features open plans, extensive use of glass to blur the line between outdoors and indoors, flat or low-pitched roofs, and aesthetic geometric forms.

The son of a Raleigh architect, Smart believes Modernist houses are “sculpture for living.” He is disturbed by the number of Modernist houses being destroyed in the wake of rising land values.

“The key,” said Smart, “is keeping these houses occupied and in the hands of appreciative owners, but there are several myths about Modernist houses that keep buyers away.”

Smart recently noted five primary myths about Modernist houses.

Myth #1: Modernist houses leak. 

Reality: “Mid-century modern architecture often exceeded what materials science could support, creating houses with all sorts of problems, usually involving water and buckets,” Smart said. “By the time those problems were resolved, the word on the street was ‘don’t buy a flat-roofed house.’ Today, materials science is so advanced that you can build anything with confidence. Keep in mind that most of America’s office buildings have flat roofs.  Like the brontosaurus, leaks in new construction are virtually extinct.”

Myth #2: Modernist houses are hard to sell. 

The Smart-Stell House by Tonic Design

Reality: “This is true for any house larger than 3000 square feet or $600,000 in the current economy,” Smart said. “However, if a Modernist house is small, well-designed, kept in good condition, and features up-to-date kitchen and bathrooms, it should resell comparably to traditional homes.  We do our best to publicize these houses to readers looking for Modernist houses.”

Myth #3: Modernist houses lower surrounding property values.

Reality: “Translated: This means your neighbors don’t share your design tastes,” Smart said. “Unless the house is falling down or you plan to paint it purple, your Modernist house will, if anything, raise property values.”

Myth #4: Modernist houses are cold and sterile. 

The Crowder House by Thomas Crowder, AIA

Reality: “Modernist houses, like ice cream, come in many different flavors,” Smart said. “Some Modernist houses can feel intimidating, almost clinical. Others are warm and inviting. The use of color and texture and different building materials, especially woods, tend to warm up even the coolest geometries.”

Myth #5: Modernist houses are expensive, and getting an architect just pumps up the cost even more. 

Reality: “Any contractor can build a nice house, but getting an architect often means getting a house you’ll dearly love,” Smart said. “Architects are trained to efficiently use 3D volumes, not just 2D square footage, in ways that can make a 2400-square-foot house live like a 3000-square-foot house. That can result in significant cost-savings, or more money for furnishings. And through green, sustainable design features, architects can reduce your gas, electric, and water costs.”

Triangle Modernist features the largest archive of Modernist houses in America, including profiles of their architects. It also offers an exclusive, free listing of Modernist houses for sale or rent throughout North Carolina. For more information, 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 “livable works of art” for future generations. Visit the website at TMH also has an active community on Facebook.

Charleston Architect Serves on Custom Home Design Awards Jury

Studio A’s Whitney Powers helps select the nation’s best custom-designed

Whitney Powers, AIA, LEED AP, principal of Studio A Architecture in Charleston, SC



February 10, 2011 (CHARLESTON, SC) – Whitney Powers, AIA, founder and principal of Studio A Architecture in Charleston, flew to Washington, DC, late last month to serve on the jury for the 2011 Custom Home Design Awards program, sponsored by Custom Home Magazine.


The judging took place on Wednesday, January 26, in the downtown Washington offices of Hanley Wood LLC. Hanley Wood publishes Residential Architect magazine as well as Custom Home and Custom Home Outdoors. The jury made its selections independent of the magazine’s editorial staff.


An experienced design awards juror, Powers is an award-winning architect and LEED AP professional whose own work includes a variety of historic restorations and modern, sustainable residences, including the Dewees Island vacation home that was featured on HGTV’s “Extreme Living” show. She was named one of Charleston’s “Most Influential Home & Design Professionals” by Charleston Home & Design magazine in 2010 and one of the 40 most outstanding U.S. architects under the age of 40 in 1995.


The Custom Home Design Awards program accepted entries in 10 different categories from custom home-builders, remodelers, architects, designers, and other industry professionals. The jurors also chose a Best Residential Project of the Year from among the Grand Award-winning built entries. The winning entries will be featured in the May 2011 edition of Custom Home and presented at an awards dinner held concurrent with the American Institute of Architects National Convention in New Orleans in May of 2011.


Joining Whitney Powers on the jury were John Murphey, AIA, of Meditch Murphey Architects, Chevy Chase, Maryland; Matt Risinger, of Risinger Homes, Austin, Texas; and Ken Vona, of Kenneth Vona Construction, Waltham, Massachusetts. The group met for a Hanley Wood-sponsored Judges Dinner at The Jefferson Hotel the night before the jury officially convened.


“It was a wonderful experience,” Powers said. “I really enjoyed the camaraderie of the jury and I believe the winners are really the best of the best in the custom-home category.”


For more information on the Custom Home Design Awards, go to


For more information on Whitney Powers, visit


About Whitney Powers, AIA:

Whitney Powers, AIA, LEED AP, founded Studio A, Inc. in downtown Charleston, SC, in 1989, as a full-service architectural firm that 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