North Carolina “Starchitect” Frank Harmon, FAIA, Celebrates Career, Retirement Nov. 19

Frank Harmon, FAIA. (photo by William Morgan)
Frank Harmon, FAIA. (photo by William Morgan)

On Thursday evening, November 19, from 6-8 p.m., multi-award-winning architect, professor, author, and artist Frank Harmon, FAIA, will thank friends, colleagues, and clients for a 50-year career that saw him rise to the top of his profession when he officially announces his retirement during an oyster roast and champagne toast.

Harmon’s retirement party will be held at the thoroughly “green” Modern building he designed and where his office has been located for the past three years: the AIA NC Center for Architecture and Design, 14 East Peace Street, in downtown Raleigh. Free and open to the public, the event is part of North Carolina Modernist Houses‘ “Thirst4Architecture” series. Anyone who wishes to attend should email

Since founding his firm in 1985, Frank Harmon has received dozens of local, regional, and national design awards and other professional honors, including the 2013 F. Carter Williams Gold Medal, the highest honor the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects presents.


See AIA NC’s 2013 Gold Medal presentation,which includes a history of Frank Harmon and his work:


An AIA Fellow and Professor in Practice at NC State University’s College of Design, Harmon has built his illustrious reputation on designing modern, innovative, sustainable, and regionally appropriate buildings of all types, especially environmental education facilities. As another AIA Fellow, Jeffrey Lee, once wrote of his friend and colleague:

“Across the architectural profession, Frank Harmon, FAIA, is the face of North Carolina architecture. Through his words, his deeds, and the work of his firm, he has brought to a national audience a glimpse of the unique character and architectural culture of his home state [and his work] is an architectural presence so deeply rooted to the influence of place that one can hardly imagine it existing elsewhere.”

When asked why he’s decided to retire now, Harmon grinned. “I don’t think one ever retires. You simply do other things. But one of our goals in life is to be happy, right? I’ve decided to pay attention to that. I realize now that a visit from my daughter, a trip to London to see my son, a simple dinner with friends, or the shape of a flower in my garden gives me more happiness than designing another building.”

Yet he admits he’ll miss his practice:

“Of course this is bittersweet. I’ll miss coming to the office each day to work with bright young people and to work with craftsmen and builders I respect. But they will continue to do new and better things, which I will enjoy. The future of architecture is good in their hands.”

For the past few years, Harmon has acquired a devoted following for his blog “Native Places,” a collection of thoughts and hand-drawn sketches that illustrate the value of looking closely at buildings and places. (Custom Home Magazine features Native Place on its website.) More recently, he began writing a similar monthly piece for Midtown Magazine that he calls “Everyday Places.”

Perhaps both columns were foreshadowing: After a rewarding 50-year career as a practicing architect, Harmon is now ready to express his thoughts and values through those endeavors, rather than design and construction:

“I think that what I want to say in architecture can be done with a pen and watercolor brush,” he said recently. “I don’t need an office to do that.”

For more information on Frank Harmon’s life and work:

Frank Harmon, FAIA, To Present Seminar at 2011 AIA National Convention

Harmon and three other prominent architects will discuss region-based urban design.

Frank Harmon, FAIA © f8 Photo Studios



November 16, 2010 (RALEIGH, NC) — The American Institute of Architects 2011 National Convention Education Advisory Committee and the AIA staff recently informed architect Frank Harmon, FAIA, that his proposal for a seminar entitled “Architects Discuss Region-Based Urban Design” has been selected as part of the AIA 2011 National Convention and Design Exposition to be held May 12-14, in New Orleans.


Harmon is founder and principal of Frank Harmon Architect PA in Raleigh, North Carolina.


“Regional architecture conserves and celebrates the landscape and culture of place. Regional urban architecture engages local culture, climate, building patterns and materials,” said Harmon. “Through exemplary urban projects — low-income infill houses and a high-rise ‘vertical neighborhood’ in New Orleans, plus an ecologically sustainable office building in Kansas City —  this seminar will explore regionalism’s influence on contemporary urban design and techniques that meet social, cultural, economic and environmental needs for urban sustainability.”


AIA President Clark Manus, FAIA, reported that the AIA received a record number of proposals for a limited number of program slots, and that the selection of Harmon’s proposal “is a testament to the quality of the program content and the merits of your contribution.”


Joining Harmon on the presentation panel will be Coleman Coker, AIA, founding principal of buildingstudio in New Orleans; David Dowell, AIA, principal of el dorado inc in Kansas City; and Steve Dumez, FAIA, principal of Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, also in New Orleans.


“The greatest potential for architecture today is in urban locations – in the number of clients, the varied urban conditions, and the particular ‘sticks and stones’ with which each urban region has to build,” Harmon said. “This is significant nationally and internationally as the need rises for every region to draw inspiration from its own context and rely on its own resources.”


He also noted that the architects’ case studies used in the 2011 seminar “demonstrate real applications of the principles of modern, innovative, regional urban design. They illustrate alternate working relationships for architects, clients, and contractors. And they examine successful new design methods.”


A regular speaker at state, regional and national architectural conferences and conventions, Frank Harmon has presented successful seminars during the 2005, 2006 and 2007 AIA National Conventions in association with Architectural Record magazine. He has also been a featured speaker at the Dwell on Design national convention and Residential Architect’s Reinvention Symposia.


The exact date and time of Harmon’s seminar will be determined later. For more information on the AIA 2011 National Convention & Design Exposition, visit


For more information on Frank Harmon 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