Raleigh Architecture Firm Ranks 13th In Nation’s Top 50

The Strickland/Ferris Residence, designed by Frank Harmon

Frank Harmon Architect PA, based in Raleigh, NC and recognized nationally as a leader in innovative, modern, and regionally inspired “green” architecture, has placed 13th on Architect magazine’s 2010 list of the top firms in the nation, moving up from the 26th spot the firm held last year.

Frank Harmon Architect PA is the only firm in North Carolina to make the “Architect 50” this year. The Freelon Group in Durham placed 60th and Little in Charlotte placed 71st.

Unlike many other “top firms” lists, the “Architect 50” emphasizes ecological commitment and design quality as much as profitability as the editors determine the country’s very best firms. In fact, many firms ranking far lower than Harmon’s report revenues in the multiple millions.

Senior editor Amanda Kolson Hurley also notes, “Some commercially focused firms that were prominent last year have dropped off the list; conversely, this year’s biggest upward movers tend to be those with a bedrock of public-sector and infrastructural projects.”

Harmon’s firm has been working on and completing several “green” public-sector projects since the 2009 Architect 50, most of modest size and budget. They include Visitors Education Centers at Walnut Creek Urban Wetlands Park in Raleigh, the North Carolina Botanical Garden at UNC-Chapel Hill, Merchants Millpond State Park (recently featured in Architect magazine), and the N.C. Zoological Park (Children’s Nature Zoo). The firm is also working on oyster hatchery research facilities at UNC-Wilmington and in Northern Neck, Virginia, as well as a new Crafts Campus at UNC-Asheville.

Each of these projects embraces the principles of sustainability, both low-tech and high-tech, within regionally appropriate, modern designs. And each underscores the enjoyable aspects of energy conservation, such as natural light and ventilation; simple, familiar materials; and the use of deep porches for circulation and access to the outdoors.

In an introduction for Harmon at a North Carolina State University College of Design lecture, architecture Professor Paul Tesar stated:

“[Frank Harmon’s] buildings range from houses in the Bahamas to AIA Headquarters in Raleigh, from Eco-Stations to Parish Houses, from Iron Studios to Pottery Centers, and from Dog Boxes to Oyster Hatcheries – commissions, in other words, that most of us only can envy him for, because they somehow seem a little more inspiring than, say, 40,000 square feet of speculative office space next to a K-Mart parking lot.”

Of the higher ranking in this year’s “Architect 50,” Harmon said, “The usual rating of firms by gross billing, number of employees, etc., does not include our firm. But when we are rated on design recognition for our clients, sustainability, and financial performance, our firm shows up well.”

To see the entire 2010 Architect 50 list, go to www.architectmagazine.com.

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