Archive for architecture

Reduce, Reuse – ReSpace: Habitat’s “LightWall Pavilion” To Be Sold at Auction

Posted in architecture, art, design, DIY, environment, North Carolina, raleigh with tags , , , , , , , on May 15, 2013 by killahfunkadelic


Online bids are now being accepted on the “LightWall Pavilion,” the Grand Prize winner of the inaugural ReSpace Design Competition made entirely of salvaged materials. The Competition was sponsored by Habitat for Humanity of Wake County, the American Institute of Architects’ Triangle section, and Architecture For Humanity’s Raleigh chapter. All proceeds will benefit Habitat Wake.

On Saturday, June 1, from 9-11 a.m., AuctionFirst, the real estate bidding agency for the “LightWall,” will host a Preview Tour in the parking lot of Habitat Wake County’s ReStore’s parking lot at 2420 N. Raleigh Boulevard, Raleigh, NC 27604, where the pavilion is stored.

Scott Hefner and Abe Drechsler, two NCSU students studying Environmental Design in Architecture, designed the pavilion, which measures 18.5 feet long, 11.5 feet wide, and 11 feet tall, and is destined for a variety of uses – from a gazebo-like structure in the landscape, to an artist’s or writer’s studio, a playhouse, a meditation retreat, etc.

Materials, donated or salvaged from around Wake County, include:

  • Framing lumber salvaged by Habitat Wake’s DeConstruction program
  • Interior Maple gym flooring from Chapel Hill High School
  • Diagonal floor sheathing for exterior siding from the DeConstruction program, and manufactured siding donated to the Habitat ReStore in Raleigh
  • Weather barrier and roofing donated to the Raleigh ReStore
  • Old pallet racking from the Raleigh ReStore and reused glass bottles from various bars and restaurants in downtown Raleigh. The bottles create the “light wall” that filters sunlight and bathes the interior in colored light.


Joel Lubell, a builder and volunteer at Habitat, conceived of and organized the ReSpace Competition “to raise awareness of reuse materials while showcasing creative and successful small space designs inspired by their use,” according to his website Lubell and a small army of Habitat volunteers built the structure during a 48-hour construction blitz.

Matthew Szymanski, chairman of AIA Triangle’s Young Architects Forum committee, added his feelings about the competition: “We wanted to make ReSpace more than a contest. We wanted it to be an experience that would change people, and tying it to reuse has done that.”

Szymanski firmly believes that once designers and builders have worked with salvaged materials “they’ll be more likely to do it again and again and again.”

Joel Lubell noted another value: “The materials all have a story. They all come from somewhere. You get an idea that something came from your local area and it’s got history to it.”

The contest’s jury included North Carolina architect Ellen Weinstein, AIA, who admired the LightWall’s minimalism. “I just found it to be a simple and elegant structure in the landscape,” she said.

According to the young designers, “simple” was a necessity. Both students were extremely busy as the deadline for submissions neared, so they designed something quickly during a two-hour brainstorming session, using markers and trace paper.

“We reasoned that we didn’t have enough time before the deadline to add too many layers of complexity,” Hefner said. “Little did we know that the LightWall’s inherent simplicity would be one of its strongest traits.” The entire structure fits on a lowboy trailer for shipping anywhere in the country.

“This will be a fascinating auction,” said auctioneer Sarah Sonke. “The success will depend upon bidders’ imaginations – what wonderful purposes they see for the pavilion.”

Bidding will end at 8 p.m. on June 11. The website ( includes information on how to bid and videos of the competition and “construction blitz.”

For more information on this and future ReSpace Design Competitions, go to



Embrace the Imperfect in Your Home

Posted in architecture, life with tags , on November 7, 2012 by killahfunkadelic

North Carolina’s Finest Mid-Century Modern In Danger

Posted in architecture, design, history, North Carolina, raleigh with tags , , , , , on August 8, 2012 by killahfunkadelic
Paschal house

The Wright-praised Paschal house needs a buyer to see another 62 years.

One of the most highly praised mid-century Modern houses in North Carolina, the 1950 Paschal house, is threatened with eventual teardown if a buyer doesn’t come forward very soon.

Award-winning Raleigh architect Frank Harmon, FAIA, said recently, “I personally think this is, flat out, the greatest modern house in North Carolina.” According to Harmon, the late Harwell Hamilton Harris, FAIA, shared his sentiment. Even Frank Lloyd Wright observed after visiting the house “it does the cause [of modern architecture] good.”

“We’re putting out a national preservation alert to save this James Fitzgibbon-designed icon,” said George Smart, founder and director of Triangle Modernist Houses, (TMH) an award-winning, non-profit organization dedicated to documenting, preserving, and promoting Modernist residential design.

Paschal house

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the house has been empty and on the market for five years.

The owners, the three Paschal heirs who are now in their sixties, are asking $3.3 million for the 3300-square-foot house on three acres in Raleigh’s Country Club Hills.

“In these difficult economic times, that’s an unrealistic price,” Smart said.

Experts, such as Frank Harmon, believe the house is no where near “too far gone,” as some have suggested.

“The house could certainly be restored and heat and air conditioning installed while honoring Fitzgibbon’s design,” Harmon said. (The radiant heat in the floors hasn’t worked for years, and the house doesn’t have air conditioning; its sustainable design made cooling optional.) “I’ve been through the house on many occasions and it can definitely be saved.”

According to Preservation North Carolina’s Executive Director, Myrick Howard, the 62-year-old house is eligible for historic preservation tax credits if it is restored.

Marvin Malecha, FAIA, Dean of N.C. State University’s College of Design and a former president of the American Institute of Architects, told the News & Observer that the Paschal House “is still considered an iconic piece of architecture.”

A real danger exists, however, that the house will deteriorate past the point of no return and require demolition, following the fate of the 1954 Eduardo Catalano House, similarly vacant and eventually demolished despite praise by Frank Lloyd Wright and being named the “House of the Decade” by House and Home Magazine.

House and Architect: Ahead of Their Time

Comprised of granite, wood, and glass, the one-story Paschal house features a sweeping flat roof, extensive floor-to-ceiling windows, a floor-to-ceiling fireplace and sunken hearth, built-in bookcases and storage, intimate atria at each end, and Wrightian-inspired gates.

The house embraced sustainability 40 years ahead of the times. Despite its lack of air conditioning, it was reportedly cool in the summer. The windows provide an abundance of natural light and ventilation, deep roof overhangs shade the windows from the hot summer, and cork flooring is a sustainable building material.

The architect, James Fitzgibbon (1915-1985), moved to Raleigh with other members of the first faculty of the NC State University School of Design, hand-picked by the founding dean, Henry Kamphoefner. Fitzgibbon enjoyed a long partnership with R. Buckminster Fuller and his work was once featured in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, placed between that of Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Kahn.

Paschal house

For more information on the Paschal House, go to and see Preservation NC’s listing at (click on “Buy Property” then “Historic Properties for sale”).

Thirst4Architecture: Happy Hour Launches for Design Businesses, Enthusiasts

Posted in architecture, design, raleigh with tags , , on April 7, 2011 by killahfunkadelic

Raleigh NCFollowing the popularity of its Appetite4Architecture dinners that connect the public with local Modernist architects, Triangle Modernist Houses (TMH) will launch the first Thirst4Architecture (T4A) happy hour in partnership with The happy hour will take place on April 27 at Natty Greene’s Pub & Brewing Company in Raleigh from 6-8 p.m.  The informal, cash-bar event is free and open to the public. No pre-registration is required.

TMH is dedicated to preserving and promoting modernist residential design. Co-host Goodnight, Raleigh! is a popular online magazine run by 11 photographers, updated with images of the city at night and stories on the subjects of the photographs. Publisher John Morris is best known recently by his campaign to save the Milton Small-designed bookstore at N.C. State University.

“Our film series and dinner events in the winter have connected hundreds of people within the architecture-loving public,” said TMH founder and director George Smart. “Our T4A events will bring together the larger design community around some of the area’s great restaurants and brewpubs.

“We welcome architects, artists, designers, interior designers, realtors, engineers, contractors, property investors, building managers, Modernist homeowners, materials and furnishings dealers, and anyone with a huge crush on great architecture,” Smart said.

Smart hopes the bi-monthly happy hours, held around the Triangle, will continue building relationships, generating passion about good design, creating strategic alliances, and connecting people around Modernist architecture.

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

Posted in architecture, design, North Carolina, raleigh, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 13, 2010 by killahfunkadelic

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

Thank You, Eduardo Catalano

Posted in architecture, design, history, raleigh with tags , , , on January 29, 2010 by killahfunkadelic
Eduardo Catalano in front of the Raleigh House

Eduardo Catalano in front of the Raleigh House

From George Smart on Triangle Modernist Houses:

“I have very sad news today.  Eduardo Catalano passed away yesterday in Boston.  He was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and came to the United States on scholarships to the Universities of Pennsylvania and Harvard.  Catalano taught at the Architectural Association in London until 1951 when was recruited by Henry Kamphoefner as a Professor of Architecture at the NCSU School of Design.  He built his famous “Raleigh House” in 1954, shown below.  Read more about his life and his internationally known house, now destroyed, here.

In 1956 Catalano moved to Boston and began teaching at MIT until 1977.  One of his NCSU students fondly recalls, “Catalano was known for the three E’s of architecture.  With his thick Argentine accent, he would tell us the three most important factors are espace, estructure, and escale.” (If this makes no sense, try reading the sentence aloud).  Buildings designed by Catalano include the US embassies in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Pretoria, South Africa, the Juilliard School of Music at New York City’s Lincoln Center, Guilford County Courthouse in Greensboro (below) and the Stratton Student Center at MIT in Cambridge MA.  After MIT, he ran a private practice until retiring in 1995.  In 2002, Catalano came out of retirement to design the “Floralis Generica” sculpture in Buenos Aires, a gigantic metal flower with 6 motorized 20-meter-high petals that open and close.

After the untimely death of NCSU College of Design Professor Robert Burns, his former student and employee, Catalano donated $200,000 to the NCSU College of Design in his honor. Catalano also gave a second gift of $400,000 — the largest outright gift at the time it was given in 2007 — to establish the Eduardo Catalano Endowed Lecture/Seminar on Innovations in Contemporary Architecture.  He was awarded an honorary doctorate by NCSU in 2007.”

TMH: Architects Residences Tour November 7

Posted in architecture, raleigh with tags , , on October 28, 2009 by killahfunkadelic
The Crowder residence

1409 Ashburton Rd

Three Modernist houses that architects designed for their own families in West Raleigh will be the focus of Triangle Modernist Houses’ (TMH) Homes Tour to be held Saturday, November 7, from 1-4 p.m.

The tour will spotlight the private residences of architects Thomas Crowder, Raymond Sawyer and Brian Shawcroft.

Thomas Crowder is founder and principal of ARCHITEKTUR and currently serves as a Raleigh City Councilman. His 2400-square-foot residence at 1409 Ashburton Road was completed in 2000, replacing an earlier, more traditional ranch home that burned in 1998. A prime example of fitting modernist design into an established community, it was given an AIA Honor Award in 2004.

“It was almost therapy for me to deal with the loss by absorbing myself in the rebuilding and starting over,” says Crowder.

The house basically doubled in size with an addition on the back, and includes an art gallery at the front to display pieces that have replaced those that were lost. The house has a Japanese-inspired feel and includes large clerestory windows that provide ample light throughout the day.

Raymond Sawyer, the first recipient of the American Society of Beaux Arts medal, designed his house at 1300 Lorimer Road in 1958. Exemplary of mid-century Modernist design, it features extensive glazing that blurs the line between indoors and out. Retired now and living in Brevard, NC, Sawyer lived in the house with his family until 2006. The current owner, Adrienne Joergensen, has done some renovation work, and the house’s Modernist “bones” remain very much intact.

One of Raleigh’s true “deans” of Modern architecture, Brian Shawcroft, FAIA, designed almost all of the Modernist home inventory in the Triangle area from the 1970s through the late 1990s. He completed his current 2215-square-foot residence at 5215 Melbourne Road in 2002. In 1991, Shawcroft was awarded the prestigious Henry Kamphoefner Prize for achievement in Modernist architecture.

The November tour will begin at the Western Boulevard Presbyterian Church, 4900 Kaplan Drive, where a free shuttle service will take participants to the three houses.

Advance tickets are $9.95 and are on sale now via the TMH website: TMH director George Smart recommends securing tickets early since TMH homes tours typically sell out quickly. Proceeds benefit future tours, TMH’s cataloguing program and research grants, and provide infrastructure as the non-profit organization works to create public awareness for the preservation of modernist design.