Wins National Architecture Award

July 1, 2009 (RALEIGH, NC) — Triangle Modernist Houses, an online, nonprofit educational archive for cataloguing, preserving, and advocating modernist residential design in the Triangle area of North Carolina, was honored recently with the 2009 Paul E. Buchanan Award from the Vernacular Architecture Forum.

The Buchanan Award was established in 1993 to recognize contributions to the study and preservation of vernacular architecture and the cultural landscape that do not take the form of books or published work.

Triangle Modernist Houses (TMH) provides extensive details on more than 145 architects with over 3300 photographs of 640 rarely seen homes. Information is gleaned from public records, published reports, interviews, and reader contributions.

“Since the 1950s, the Triangle area of the state – Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill — has been one of the most active areas for really cool houses,” said George Smart, founder and executive director TMH. He defines “cool houses” as “contemporary homes characterized by large common areas and windows, extensive use of natural light, and aesthetic geometric forms. Because of Dean Henry Kamphoefner’s vision for a modernist School of Design at North Carolina State University, this area has more modernist houses than anywhere else with the exception of LA and Chicago.“

The Buchanan Award is the third honor TMH has received since its inception. In 2008, TMH won an Award of Merit from the Preservation Society of Chapel Hill and a Gertrude S. Carraway Award of Merit from Preservation North Carolina (

Since it was launched in 2007, TMH’s efforts on behalf of modern architecture, which includes tours of modern homes in the area, has received national recognition in Dwell and Metropolis. The website’s work also been featured on WUNC Radio, in the Raleigh News and Observer and Durham Herald-Sun, and in a variety of online media. For complete information, visit the website at

The Vernacular Architecture Forum was formed in 1980 to encourage the study and preservation of these informative and valuable material resources. The Buchanan Award is named for Paul E. Buchanan who served as director of architectural research at Colonial Williamsburg Foundation for over 30 years and set the standard for architectural fieldwork in America. For more information visit

About Triangle Modernist Houses:

A unique combination of construction and art, modernist houses are being torn down in record numbers as newer, larger houses are built on the valuable land. Through its extensive website and public tours of modern houses in the Triangle, TMH is committed to advocating, protecting, restoring and growing modernist architecture in the Triangle. TMH’s six modernist house tours during 2008 and 2009 attracted over 1500 architecture enthusiasts from North Carolina and beyond. For more information, contact TMH executive director George Smart at (919) 740-8407 or by email:

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Sustainable by Example: Frank Harmon To Address Richmond Conference

Future AIA/NC Headquarters
Future AIA/NC Headquarters

November 7, 2008 (RALEIGH, NC) – Raleigh-based architect Frank Harmon, FAIA, principal of the multi-award-winning firm Frank Harmon Architect, will be in Richmond, Virginia, on November 13 and 14 to present a special seminar to the 21st annual Architecture Exchange East conference, sponsored by the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects (AIA/VA).

Calling his presentation “Sustainable By Example: A Case Study,” Harmon will use his design for the new, “green” headquarters for AIA/North Carolina to be built in downtown Raleigh as a case study to demonstrate how architects “can – and must – take an innovative, leadership role to drastically reduce their buildings’ carbon footprints and leave the land better than they found it,” he said.

Harmon’s firm was one of many who competed in a professional design competition for the AIA/NC project last year. When Harmon’s design received First Place, the judges praised it for being “of its place,” for making good use of a difficult site, for integrating sustainable design principles rather than using them as applique, and for “embracing the community.”

According to Harmon, his firm’s design “aspires to become a role model for healthy urbanism and future development in downtown Raleigh.” The overriding objective is to demonstrate and encourage aesthetic and ecological integrity – to create a flagship for North Carolina architecture that is architecturally, environmentally, politically, socially and aesthetically inspiring,”

Frank Harmon will present his seminar on Friday, November 14, from 2:45 to 4:15 p.m. in the Greater Richmond Convention Center at 403 North 3rd Street in Richmond.

Architecture Exchange East is the Mid-Atlantic’s premier conference and expo for the design and construction industry. The 2008 event will offer more than 70 seminars and workshops as well as tours and exhibits. For more information, visit

For more information on Frank Harmon and the AIA/NC headquarters project, visit


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Judy and Frank Harmon To Discuss “What I Learned Doing My Own House” During Boston Convention

March 25, 2008 (RALEIGH, NC) – Award-winning landscape architect Judy Harmon, ASAL, and her husband, architect Frank Harmon, FAIA, will participate in a panel discussion entitled “What I Learned Doing My Own House” during Residential Design & Construction (RDC), a two-day convention and trade show for design and construction professionals, home owners, and consumers to be held April 2 and 3 in the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston, MA.

The Raleigh couple created their home and gardens together in 1994, juxtaposing Frank Harmon’s thoroughly Modern residential design with Judy Harmon’s curvilinear garden design, which creates a paisley of sunny, open spaces and dense, shaded foliage. According to the Harmons, the house and gardens were designed as halves of the greater “whole” — as equal parts of the living experience. Their residence has won design awards and has been featured in numerous publications, including the book Outside The Not-so-big House by architect Sarah Susanka and landscape architect Julie Moir Messervy.

According to Claire Conroy, editor of Residential Architect magazine and moderator for this panel, the Harmons and other invited speakers will discuss “the surprises and delights they experienced designing their own dwellings. Was it a dream come true or the client from the dark side? What would they do differently if they could? What insights did they gain for other projects and other clients?” The panel will offer “a behind-the-scenes look at what architects create for themselves.”

“What I Learned Doing My Own House” will take place on Thursday, April 3, from 1-3 p.m. Joining Conroy and the Harmons will be Mark Hutker, AIA, of Hutker Architects in Vineyard Haven, MA, and Mark McInturff, FAIA, of McInturff Architects in Bethesda, MD.

The RDC offers workshops and professional development opportunities to enrich residential design and construction professional’s design and technical skills. Nationally and internationally recognized industry leaders share their knowledge and expertise. The convention allows the public to meet architects and interior designers and to view hundreds of exhibits featuring new products, new technologies and both traditional and non-traditional design. For more information visit

For more information on the Harmons’ home, visit Click on “projects” then “Harmon residence.”


NC Parks and Rec Dept. Breaks Ground on First “Green” Visitor Center

March 11, 2008 (GATESVILLE, NC) – On Saturday, March 15, the North Carolina Department of Parks & Recreation will hold its groundbreaking ceremony to start construction of the LEED® Gold rated Merchants Mill Pond State Park Visitors Center in Gatesville, NC, the department’s first LEED®-rated building and a model for responsible development. The ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m.

Designed by Frank Harmon Architect PA in Raleigh – a nationally recognized leader in sustainable design – the project will include a 6500-square-foot Visitor Center with exhibit space, an auditorium, classrooms, workspace and administrative offices, plus an 600-square-foot outdoor classroom. A trail will lead from to the outdoor classroom at the edge of the pond.

According to Frank Harmon, FAIA, the building “touches the site as lightly as possible in an attempt to protect and preserve the many species of plants and wildlife that call Merchants Mill Pond State Park home.” The project respects the environment, he said, by minimizing the impact and footprint of both building and the parking area.

Daylight and views will be available in all occupied spaces, he said, with particularly dramatic views available through the two-story glass window in the lobby and the adjacent porch along the pond side of the building. Every main space in the building will benefit from natural light through at least two sides of the room, which will reduce the need for artificial illumination.

The Visitors Center will also utilize an efficient geothermal heat pump system to protect the surroundings from the noise of the mechanical equipment and to reduce energy use.

Locally available materials, such as Atlantic White Cedar wood siding, will be used on the interior and exterior of the building. “To protect the native Atlantic White Cedar species, at least 95 percent of the lumber will come from trees in the Dismal Swamp that were felled during Hurricane Fran,” Harmon noted.

Since water conservation is a primary concern, the Visitor Center will contain dual-flush toilets and waterless urinals. Collection cisterns will provide rainwater for irrigation and hosing down canoes at the Outdoor Classroom.

Merchants Mill Pond is a Registered Natural Heritage Area that covers 1900 acres and includes the millpond and part of Lassiter Swamp. It was established as a state park so that its diverse biological, scenic, archaeological, geological and recreational values could be protected. For more information and directions to the park, visit

For more information on Frank Harmon, visit


Frank Harmon Presents Project, Opening Lecture at “Southern Exposure: Contemporary Regional Architecture”

February 8, 2008 (RICHMOND, VA) — When Modern architecture embraces the particulars of a place – the culture, climate, materials and landscape of the region in which it is built – it is no longer “stark” or “cold,” as detractors would suggest, but warm, charming and often quite “green.”

This is the message the Virginia Society of the American institute of Architects AIA/VA) conveys in a new exhibit entitled “Southern Exposure: Contemporary Regional Architecture,” which opened in the Virginia Center for Architecture in Richmond on February 7 and will run through June 8, 2008.

Southern Exposure is “a pictorial tour of some of the Sun Belt’s most respected Modern architecture,” according to Rhea George of AIA/VA. The projects included demonstrate that, in the right hands, Modern design can be as “warm and imaginative as buildings from any period in history,” she said, as they “balance beauty with sustainability.”

Award-winning Raleigh, NC-based architect Frank Harmon, FAIA, who has conducted seminars on “America’s New Regionalism” during the last three National AIA conventions, presented a lecture on his regional approach to design at the exhibition’s public opening event Thursday night.

Harmon’s contribution to the exhibit is a Low-Country residence in Mt. Pleasant, SC, that was designed to tread lightly on its tidal-marsh site. Taking his cue from traditional shutters on nearby Charleston’s historic homes, Harmon designed a series of large, metal screens to protect the house from harsh sun and hurricanes – a “21st century solution to a 400-year-old problem,” he said.

The show also includes work by Marlon Blackwell of Fayetteville, Ark.; W. G. Clark of Charlottesville, VA; Mack Scogin of Merril Elam Architects in Atlanta, GA; Lake/Flato Architects of San Antonio, TX; and the groundbreaking work of students at Auburn University’s Rural Studio in Alabama, founded by the late Samuel Mockbee, which combines social outreach with architectural education (

The Virginia Center for Architecture is located at 2501 Monument Avenue in Richmond’s historic Fan District and is open to the public Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. For more information, visit

For more information on Frank Harmon, go to


AIA/NC Goes Green: Historic Initiative Results in Landmark Commitment to Sustainability

AIA/NC future HQ
February 1, 2008 (RALEIGH, NC) — In an unprecedented initiative, the North Carolina component of the American Institute of Architects (AIA/NC) announced in November 2007 that it would hold a design competition to select the architect for its new headquarters building on a high-profile site in downtown Raleigh. In all 50 states, an AIA component has never built its own headquarters from the ground up, so conducting a competition to select the designer “was the obvious and only solution,” said David Crawford, executive vice president of AIA/NC.

What made the competition more profound, however, was the understanding that this 12,000-square-foot building, representing a $4.5 million investment by AIA/NC, ”will be our testament to sustainable architecture, the built environment, and the role of architects in this endeavor,” said Walt Teague, immediate past president of AIA/NC. Crawford added that the organization “made it a goal to use [the] new facilities to teach the public about what it means to design with the environment and future in mind.”

Architects who entered the competition understood that the headquarters was to be designed to meet both LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards and AIA’s COTE (Committee On The Environment) objectives, which address appropriateness to the region, land use and site ecology, sustainable materials and methods of construction, water usage, and energy efficiency.

On January 23, the jury of esteemed architects from across the nation completed its deliberation of the 48 projects entered and announced that Frank Harmon Architect PA of Raleigh had won First Place with a proposal that they praised for being “of its place,” for making good use of a difficult site, for integrating sustainable design principles rather than using them as applique, and for “embracing the community.”

Second place went to Pearce, Brinkley, Case + Lee, PA of Raleigh, and third place went to Kenneth E. Hobgood, Architects, also of Raleigh.

According to Frank Harmon, FAIA, principal, his firm’s design “aspires to become a role model for healthy urbanism, both for chapter members and future development in downtown Raleigh.” He pointed out that the previous AIA/NC headquarters did this in its time by adaptively re-using an historic structure: an old water tower also in the downtown area. “The new headquarters faces a 21st Century challenge, however,” he said, “which is the global necessity to conserve and protect our natural resources.”

In Harmon’s plan, a slim, three-story building composed of regionally appropriate materials – stone, wood, concrete and glass — is situated along one edge of the site, leaving the majority of the property for landscape. Paying deference to the natural topography, the project will reuse every shovelful of earth: Where soil is removed from one position on the site, it is reused in another.

The architect describes his concept as “a Modern shell with a green heart.” Besides site orientation and the narrow footprint, both of which will maximize natural ventilation and lighting, other “green” features include:

 a building shell that collects rainwater, shades from southern sun and protects against winter wind
 broad roof overhangs to shade the glass-faced interior from the harsh summer sun
 a geothermal energy system to provide heat from the ground in winter and cool air in summer
 photovoltaic panels for generating electricity from the sun
 a vegetated roof to filter rainwater, mitigate the heat-island effect in the inner city, and introduce the concept of “green” roofs to downtown Raleigh.
 cisterns for storing and reusing every drop of rainwater on the site – a particularly important element for a city that continues to confront drought conditions
 a porously paved “parking garden” to mitigate storm-water runoff and serve as an open, green space – another role model for downtown development
 all native landscaping materials and locally available construction materials

The scale of the building focuses on human comfort and socio-cultural concerns. It greets the Peace Street neighborhood at its natural grade – a friendly gesture – and establishes an “urban edge” along that rapidly developing section of the city. An open porch at that elevation underscores the sense of outreach and welcome towards the community “in the same manner, perhaps, that Moses Mordecai extended open arms to the town when he added a large front porch onto his house a few blocks away,” Harmon said, referring to the Greek Revival home of one of Raleigh’s most prominent 19th century families and a designated historic landmark.

At the opposite end of the building, structure and landscape rise, both physically and symbolically, to greet the Government Complex along the higher elevation and forge a strong tie with the government entities there.

The overriding objective of this concept is to “demonstrate and encourage aesthetic and ecological integrity – to create a flagship for North Carolina architecture that is architecturally, environmentally, politically, socially and aesthetically inspiring,” Harmon said. “We commend the AIAI for the open, fair and inclusive nature of this project and the example it sets for design and sustaining architecture. We are obligated to be exemplary.”

William McMinn, FAIA, Dean Emeritus of Cornell University’s College of Architecture selected the judges for the competition. They were: Daniel Bennett, FAIA, Dean of the College of Architecture at Auburn University; Allison Ewing, AIA, LEED® AP, a partner in Hayes + Ewing Design in Charlottesville, VA; David Lee, FAIA, partner in Stull & Lee, Boston, MA; and jury chair Susan Maxman, FAIA, founder and design principal of SMP Architects in Philadelphia, PA.

Drawings of all the winning design can be see at For more information on Frank Harmon Architect, go to