Corten steel helps residence blend into surroundings seamlessly

Piedmont Retreat6

Located in a wooded cul-de-sac neighborhood in Durham, N.C., this single-family residence, nicknamed Piedmont Retreat, is wrapped in vertical Corten steel panels facing the street, and vast expanses of floor-to-ceiling glass and cantilevered windows in the back that overlook the surrounding forest.


The owners reached out to Raleigh, N.C.-based Tonic Design and Tonic Construction to design and build the residence. “It’s a corner lot,” says Vincent Petrarca, co-owner, designer and contractor at Tonic Design, “so the house really had to respond to the two streets. And for us, trying to create a place that’s calm and a getaway, the idea of even a few streetlights at night on the corner, the house really had to turn its back on the street. So the house created this hard shell to that side of the property, and then it really opens up, like a geode, looking down the Piedmont ravine into the mature forest.” READ MORE…


INHABITAT: “Weathered steel and reclaimed materials blend a modern home into the woods.”

Piedmont Retreat5

by Lisa Wang

Raleigh-based Tonic Design completed a creative new home that plays with the contrast between old and new through the use of reclaimed and contemporary materials. Tucked into the forests of Durham, the Piedmont Retreat is a 3,800-square-foot single-family home that embraces the outdoors in its use of weathered materials and large cantilevered windows. Reclaimed materials, like oak flooring and factory lights, help soften the modern steel and glass construction. READ MORE… “Award-winning LA Architecture Firm Relocates to Carrboro, North Carolina”

pod_Doug at desj          pod_Youn standing

December 4, 2017 (Carrboro, NC) – Architect Doug Pierson, AIA, LEED AP, BD+C, and environmental graphics designer Youn Choi —  partners in life and in pod architecture + design (pod a+d) — have joined the flurry of businesses relocating to the Triangle region. They’ve moved their architectural firm from Los Angeles to Carrboro, where they’re currently settling into new offices in The Station, the town’s 1882 train depot. READ MORE…

Award-winning L.A. Architecture Firm Relocates to Carrboro, NC

pod_Doug at desjDecember 5, 2017 (Carrboro, NC) – Architect Doug Pierson, AIA, LEED AP, BD+ (left), and environmental graphics designer Youn Choi (below left) —  partners in life and in pod architecture + design (pod a+d) — have joined the flurry of businesses relocating to North Carolina’s Triangle region. They’ve moved their architectural firm from Los Angeles to Carrboro, where they’re currently settling into new offices in The Station, the town’s 1882 train depot.

Pierson and Choi relocated to the Triangle because they were ready for a lifestyle change and looking for excellent schools for their two children, Pierson said. They’d also visited the region many times since Pierson’s parents live here.

Spod_Youn standing.jpgo why Carrboro?

“Carrboro has a vibrant community, a diverse culture, great food, and music,” he said. “Carrboro shares all the best aspects of the Triangle and keeps us engaged not just in town, but with Durham, Raleigh and beyond.” 

With experience in all building types, pod a+d is a hybrid firm, actually.

Pierson, an award-winning architect, worked in Frank Gehry’s Los Angeles office before co-founding his previous firm — form, environment, research (fer) studio L.L.P. — in Inglewood, CA. He leads pod a+d’s architectural studio.

A native of South Korea, Youn Choi studied environmental design and architecture at UCLA. She worked with Disney Imagineering and Selbert Perkins Design, an international graphics design firm, before co-founding pod a+d, where she directs signage and wayfinding, interior design, and experiential graphics (the orchestration of typography, color, imagery, form, technology and, content to create “environments that communicate”).

Licensed in five states and staffed with team members who bring LEED AP and BD+C credentials to the table, pod a+d provides all architectural services from concept design through construction administration.  Their work has been featured in numerous newspaper, journals, and magazines. The firm’s address at The Station is 201-A East Main Street, Carrboro, NC 27510. For more information, visit

podand_logo1About pod architecture + design:

pod a+d offers all architectural design services that connect building, environment, and identity because we believe in the integration of architecture and design disciplines throughout our projects.  Exteriors, interiors, engineering, furnishings and finishes, equipment, financial feasibility, scheduling, construction, and the environmental context – these are the contributing elements that inform our integrated approach to each architectural project’s design.  More information:


NEWS & OBSERVER HOME & GARDEN: “The 2016 winners in the annual George Matsumoto Prize modernist house contest”

123 Hillcrest
123 Hillcrest

2016 Matsumoto Prize Online Voting Now Open

Recognizing excellence in North Carolina Modernist residential design

Online voting for the 2016 George Matsumoto Prize: Recognizing Excellence in North Carolina Modernist Residential Design, begins today at:

Matsumoto Prize 2016
Composite of the 2016 Matsomoto Prize nominees.

The 2016 Matsumoto Prize, supported by the McAdams Foundation, includes public voting to determine three “People’s Choice” winners. Anyone may vote by email (one time per email address) for his or her favorite entry starting today and running through June 29.

The Matsumoto Prize is named for George Matsumoto, FAIA, an eminent Modernist architect well-known for exceptional residential designs.

Matsumoto also serves as Honorary Chair for the Prize’s blue-ribbon jury of professional architects who select the Jury Award winners of cash prizes from a pool of $6000.

“These entries inspire people dreaming of a Modernist house to know Modernist design is affordable, efficient, sustainable, and most importantly, a house their families will love for decades,” said NCMH executive director George Smart. “We’re looking forward to record-breaking participation in this year’s online voting.”

Online voting ends at 5 p.m. EST, June 29.

For more information about the 2016 Matsumoto Prize, go to

redchair smAbout North Carolina 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.

Kenneth Hobgood Architects Anticipates Completion of Glass Villa in Kuwait

The residence will be a showcase of modern design, special engineering

Villa Al Bahar under construction (south wall)

and meticulous construction.

June 24, 2011 (Raleigh, NC) — Construction is nearing completion on Villa Al Bahar, a modern, 22,000-square-foot, four-level glass house in Kuwait City, Kuwait, designed by  of Kenneth Hobgood Architects of Raleigh, NC.

Designing and building a glass and steel villa that can handle the heat and glare in Kuwait has been challenging, the firm admits.

The client, businessman Adnan Al Bahar, discovered Kenneth Hobgood Architects during one of his summer stays in Durham. Impressed by the many modernist houses Kenneth Hobgood has designed, he hired him after one meeting and challenged the firm to create an elegant, modern, state-of-the-art, glass villa for his family. Budget was not an issue. The villa needed to include very generous, and completely separate, spaces for formal entertaining, for the family’s private living space, and for the servants’ living quarters. He also wanted a large garage and workshop for his automobile collection.  And the villa had to be fully accessible.

“That’s very unusual in Kuwait,” said senior associate architect Alan Tin, AIA, who has worked closely with Hobgood on this project and visited the site often. “Accessibility is not as important there as it is here.”

Architect's model of the future Villa Al Bahar

The site is flat, extremely sandy, and in an exclusive neighborhood of gridded plats where most villas are built in the center of property. Ignoring that precedent, Villa Al Bahar is comprised of a central glass, steel, and concrete mass with glass wings that wrap around and overlook a central courtyard. “Public” spaces are on the ground level. The family’s private living spaces are on the second level. Women servants will live on the third level and the men servants’ will occupy generous quarters below grade near a huge garage and workshop.

Some of the villa’s other special features are:

  • A series of glass planes and tubes custom designed by structural engineer Tim Macfarlane of London to function as veils to filter light.
  • A custom-designed stainless steel structural system.
  • Operable wooden louvers to allow an abundance of natural light yet accommodate the family’s need for privacy, modesty, and separation.
  • A grand staircase comprised of three-inch-thick, cantilevered glass risers.
  • An 800-pound glass front door with electro-magnetic lock.
  • Full automation via control panels, and all mechanical systems include back-up systems.

The primary interior materials are marble, fine wood, and raw concrete. All casework has been custom designed and crafted.

“Adnan Al Bahar is an incredible man,” Kenneth Hobgood said. “He has been so involved in this project in the best sense of the word, and his comments have been extremely insightful. We’ve admired his obvious respect for his servants and the entire construction crew. We’re determined to make sure this house is as perfect as humanly possible for him.”

For more information on Villa Al Bahar and other projects by Kenneth Hobgood Architects, visit

About Kenneth E. Hobgood, Architects:

Kenneth Hobgood, FAIA, founded Kenneth E Hobgood, Architects in Raleigh, NC, in 1992. Since then, the firm has received 39 design awards from the American Institute of Architects North Carolina chapter and its work has been published and exhibited in the United States, Japan, Italy, the Netherlands, England and Germany. In 1997, Kenneth Hobgood as awarded the Kamphoefner Prize from North Carolina State University’s College of Design for “consistent integrity and devotion to the development of modern architecture” in North Carolina. He has served as a visiting critic at Auburn University, Carnegie Mellon, Georgia Tech, and the University of Kentucky, and as an adjunct professor at North Carolina State University since 1988. For more information visit


NC’s Pioneering Black Architects Get National Attention

Recent Past Preservation Network features notable North Carolina heroes. 

May 4, 2011 (Durham, NC) – The Recent Past Preservation Network (RPPN), a national organization preserving historic buildings and sites from the last 50 years, featured Triangle Modernist’s recent series on early NC black architects.  The feature covers a five-page spread in the Spring 2011 edition online magazine RPPN Bulletin.

Entitled “Triangle Modernist Houses Honors Pioneering NC Black Architects,” the article discusses how the award-winning non-profit organization and its founder, George Smart, were inspired to launch the series during Black History Month this past February.

“African American men who followed their hearts into architecture before 1970s did so despite great resistance from both society and their own industry,” Smart told RPPN.

“Today there are many black architects in North Carolina, but before 1970 it was another story, and not a nice one. The field of architecture made choosing the profession nearly impossible for minorities. In North Carolina, there were almost none for decades.”

The RPPN article includes a list of 17 architects featured on the Triangle Modernist Houses (TMH) website thus far, and some photos of those architects’ work.

In contrast to the relative cloak of obscurity under which those pioneering architects practiced, the RPPN article notes some of the very prominent black architects practicing in North Carolina today, including Loeb Fellowship winner Phil Freelon, FAIA, founder and principal of The Freelon Group in Durham, and Harvey Gantt, FAIA, principal partner of Gantt Huberman Architects in Charlotte, former Mayor of the City of Charlotte, and the man for whom The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture in Charlotte is named.

“It means so much to have a national resource such as RPPN recognize these important men in North Carolina’s design history, past and present,” Smart said recently. “A spotlight for them in RPPN’s Spring Bulletin is indeed an honor.”

To view the article, go to and click on the photo of the Bulletin.

To view the TMH archive “Pioneering Black Architects in North Carolina,” visit

About RPPN:

The Recent Past Preservation Network promotes preservation education, assistance, and activism through the medium of new technologies, to encourage a contextual understanding of our modern built environment. The Network assists preservationists by providing an open community platform for the development and revision of practical strategies to document, preserve, and re-use historic places of the recent past. In carrying out its mission, RPPN engages in  a wide variety of activities of a charitable and educational nature. For more information visit

About Triangle Modernist Houses:

Triangle Modernist Houses (TMH) is an award-winning, 501C3 nonprofit established in 2007 devoted to archiving, preserving and promoting modernist architecture in the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill “Triangle” region of North Carolina. It has since grown to feature modernist houses and their designers statewide and includes an archive of national and international modernist architects. TMH continues to catalog, preserve, and advocate for North Carolina modernism by hosting popular modernist house tours several times a year, giving the public access to the Triangle’s most exciting residential architecture, past and present. For more information visit TMH also maintains an active Facebook page.

Triangle Modernist Houses Welcomes 2011 Advisory Council

December 6, 2010 (DURHAM, NC) – George Smart, founder and director of Triangle Modernist (TMH), has announced the organization’s 2011 Advisory Council.

TMH is a 501C3 nonprofit established in 2007 to preserve and promote 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.

Appointment to the Advisory Council is a one-year term starting January 1, 2011. Selected from a cross-section of the design and client communities, Advisory Council members support the organization’s programming improvements. This includes TMH’s popular Modernist house tours, which give the public access to the Triangle’s most exciting residential architecture, past and present.

The 2011 TMH Advisory Council includes:  architects Jessica Johnson Moore, Dail Dixon FAIA, Thomas Crowder (Architektur PA), Doug Brinkley FAIA (Pearce Brinkley Cease + Lee), and Erin Sterling Lewis (In Situ Studio); Goodnight’s John Morris; John Chiles; Stan Williams of the NC Symphony; Gail Jodon of Modern Charlotte; Curtis Leonard of Leonard Ryden Burr Real Estate, Chris Chinchar; Nowell’s Contemporary Furniture owner Jerry Nowell; Queron Smith of Mechanics & Farmers Bank, David Hill and Robin Abrams of the NC State University College of Design; Tobias Kaiser of Modern Florida Homes; and Kim Weiss of blueplate pr.

“The 2010 Advisory Council did an incredible job this past year, which was our most successful yet,” said Smart. “Their suggestions were key to significant website improvements and more. Because of them, TMH has evolved into a nationally known resource on Modernist residential houses and those who design them.  Our tours continue to attract record visitors from across the state. I deeply appreciate the past Council members gifts of time and service and I look forward to working with the new Council in 2011.”

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 “livable works of art” for future generations. Visit the website at TMH also has an active community on Facebook.

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

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