Frank Harmon Architects is a design studio of architects and designers known for their place-specific approach towards architecture to create universal impacts. Founded in 1983 by Frank Harmon, the studio is recognised as the makers of modern, sustainable, innovative and regionally appropriate designs fulfilling the contemporary needs. From private residences to major museums and wood design to sustainability, the studio has served as a great contributor to the regional architecture. Frank Harmon believes in designing the building that draws people together and brings a sense of community among its people instead of designing to stand out.

Here are the 15 projects by Frank Harmon Architects that present a blend of modernism and regionalism in their architecture.

1. AIA NC Center for Architecture and Design Raleigh ⎥ 2012

The buildings are made out of an interlocking system with its landscape. The native stone wall is seen to be extending from the building to the landscape or vice-a-versa depending on one’s perspective. The use of regionally available materials and construction methods reduced water usage in construction and increased the energy efficiency of the building. Adding to it, the open plan of the building creates a sense of community among inhabitants and also makes the control of temperature, ventilation and lighting efficiency. The building is known for its suitability concerning the land use, site ecology and sustainability.

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2. Wood Studio Durham, North Carolina ⎥ 2000

Wood Studio is located in a wooded hillside setting and serves as a studio space for the two major artistic needs of the user, i.e. manoeuvring logs and watercolours painting. The studio was designed to express the craft of construction and the artistic play of natural light in the space. This didactic project is a result of hands-on construction experience of fresh ideas, making its designing process an unusual one.

Wood Studio Durham, North Carolina ⎥ 2000 - Sheet1
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3. Taylor Vacation House Abaco, Bahamas ⎥ 2000

Located at a site overlooking the Atlantic ocean and the sea of Abaco, Taylor Vacation House is a modern retreat home that celebrates the beauty of the environment. The house is designed as a cube structure sheltered under an inverted-umbrella-style roof that effectively employs the Venturi cooling effect with the coastal breeze. The roof also acts as a rainwater collecting funnel and drains water to the storage cistern to avail the water needs. The project is considered to be an innovative design that addresses various issues regarding green building, weatherproofing and other context-based problems.

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4. Low Country Residence Mount Pleasant, South Carolina ⎥ 2005

The house surfaces lightly on its lush site and evokes the feeling of living outdoors. The house was designed with an abundance of windows for viewing the nature of Shem creek. These operable windows provide ample daylight and natural ventilation. One approaches the house under the canopy of moss-draped live oaks and up a gentle ramp to get vistas of beautiful marsh appearing like the elements of a typical Japanese landscape painting. The large glass wall fronts and hand-fabricated metal screens on the porch work in a changing mechanism that responds to extreme sun and weather conditions. This modernist piece of design has reinterpreted Charleston’s historic shutters and can effectively withstand hurricane winds and debris.

Low Country Residence Mount Pleasant, South Carolina ⎥ 2005 - Sheet1
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5. Iron Studio, Penland School of Arts and Crafts Penland, North Carolina ⎥ 2000

Located in a wooded setting, nestled among the Roan and Black Mountains, Penland School of Art and Crafts houses the Iron Studio with the architecture that embodies the spirit of craft-making in its raw form. Holding facilities to create pieces ranging from a delicate spoon to a heavy steel structure, the Iron Studio provides learning. With its every detail of construct exposed, one can enliven the spirit of craftsmanship in the studio space. Simple durable materials with a long and thin design shape were used to minimise the impact on site. Ridge skylight and roll-up doors fill the studio space with light and open the interiors to the surrounding mountains.

Iron Studio, Penland School of Arts and Crafts Penland, North Carolina ⎥ 2000 Sheet1
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6. Circular Congregational Church Charleston, SC ⎥ 2008

Founded in 1681, the Circular Congregational Church is the oldest church in Charleston. To accommodate the increased number of congregation masses, the new extension designed by Frank Harmon Architects was added in 2008 in link to the Lance hall. The new modernist intervention complements the beauty of the historic property. The L-shaped building configuration provides a peaceful meditation garden and a courtyard. This building with spaces for learning includes a vegetated roof, a geothermal heating, cooling system and other interesting sustainable features that make it a thorough green building. The building uses vernacular principles for shading, windows and overhand designs, material use, cross-ventilation and daylighting to create a sense of consistency in building interiors, exteriors and furnishing landscape.

Circular Congregational Church Charleston, SC ⎥ 2008 - Sheet1
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7. JC Raulston Arboretum Lath House Raleigh, NC ⎥ 2010

The Lath House functions as a botanical laboratory designed to protect tender plants from sun and wind damage. This open-air structure is often compared to an abstract tree projecting its branches to protect infant plants. With a series of wooden screens placed with steel supports, the structure fulfils the light-to-shade ratio requirements of tender plants with an interesting play of light and shadow. The Lath house also holds an accessible community garden and serves as an educational asset to the state of North Carolina. For some, the place holds ‘peaceful aesthetics with butterflies’.

JC Raulston Arboretum Lath House Raleigh, NC ⎥ 2010 - Sheet1
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8. Strickland-Ferris Residence Raleigh North Carolina ⎥ 2005

The residence is located on a steep site on a north-facing escarpment above Crabtree creek, shaded by a very old beech and oak forest making it a place of great ecological sensitivity. The house treads lightly on this highly sensitive site, perched on nine broad-shouldered wood trusses to preserve the flow of air and water under the house, without sacrificing a single major tree. The careful use of simple materials such as wood, glass and steel in their unfinished form with an added drama in space volumes creates a sense of transparency and delicacy throughout the design. The days fill the house with beautiful views and ample daylight. The overhangs further add to the shades and extend visual links with the forest.

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9. Rake and Hoe Utility Building Raleigh, North Carolina ⎥ 1988

Located in a residential setting, the building functions as a storage facility for hay bales, seed bags, fertiliser, and to store an array of garden furniture. The second level was built as a convertible building office space. The building is a simple horizontal structure made of common materials, dominating wood. The structure is a straight forward composition of built-up columns, glue-laminated beams, plywood, concrete flooring, and a metal roof with Light bollards providing a well-lit space to work. The simplicity was chiseled by Time magazine as one of the “Ten Best Buildings” of the year 1988.

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10. Harmon Residence Raleigh, North Carolina ⎥ 1994

Harmon Residence is an all-in-one modern, compact, garden house that provides its residents with much sunlight, views and privacy in the busy university neighbourhood.

Steel and an abundance of glass are used to create a sense of both strength and lightness at the same time. The house is supported by fourteen concrete piers to protect the tree roots that grow beneath it. Walls and fences covered with vines surround the glazing to accommodate the need for privacy. The walls soften the occurrence of structure in the streetscape and create a sense of seclusion. Large fenestrations and walls sharing interior spaces with gardens diminish the line between indoors and outer world and mark an interesting architectural feature of the house.

Harmon Residence Raleigh, North Carolina ⎥ 1994 - Sheet1
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11. North Carolina Pottery Center Seagrove, North Carolina ⎥ 1998

NC Pottery centre is a well-lit building with permanent facility for pottery education, for exhibiting its collection of pottery and related artefacts and to welcome visitors. The building is designed around a grove of 100-year-old oak trees and acts as a protection to them. This grove also acts as a refreshing shade for visitors during the summer months. Aesthetically, the building uses the language of materials relating to local folks in a simple and sophisticated way. The main building includes a double-floor gallery and a meeting room for demonstrations.

North Carolina Pottery Center Seagrove, North Carolina ⎥ 1998 - Sheet1
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12. First Presbyterian Church Raleigh, NC ⎥ 2012

Since its establishment in the 1800s, the First Presbyterian Church went through several renovations and additions with little architectural connection. In 2012, Frank Harmon Architects updated the campus to be more modern, practical and united. This welcoming campus contributes to downtown revitalisation by reusing rainwater, minimising energy consumption and accommodating the landscape links that connect the two sides of campus. Use of local materials, using natural ways of ventilation and lighting has helped the building embrace green architecture.

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13. Prairie Ridge Ecostation Outdoor Classroom Raleigh, North Carolina ⎥ 2005

Known for the way it responds to the landscape and imparts the lessons of sustainability, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ Prairie Ridge Ecostation for Wildlife & Learning began in 2003 as the first part of the phased project. The diverse site acts as a learning area for school groups, educators, and learners of all age groups who come for day or overnight field trips. The centres work as an outreach program to the museum that fosters an appreciation for natural resources and natural diversity. This phase one structure houses an outdoor classroom with prime vistas of the site,  director’s office and restrooms. Climatologically, the structure dresses all major issues in innovative ways. The use of recycled materials in its construction, effective use of rainwater in flushing mechanisms and photovoltaic cells for power and light makes the structure a self-sustainable ‘treehouse-like perch’ of nature enthusiasts.

Prairie Ridge Ecostation Outdoor Classroom Raleigh, North Carolina ⎥ 2005 - Sheet1
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14. Walnut Creek Wetland Center Raleigh, NC ⎥ 2009

The Walnut Creek Urban Wetlands Educational Park works to promote awareness of the urban wetland in the city of Raleigh and its protection. The park has transformed 49 acres of polluted wetlands into a living natural resource and has enhanced community pride in economic development in the area. The Visitors Education Centre treads lightly upon the sensitive land and embraces the indigenous materials surrounding it. The all-wood construction is accompanied by the use of recycled materials wherever possible that seamlessly bends the structure into its surrounding. The occurrence of large fenestrations provide natural ventilation and illumination and welcomes the surrounding in the interiors. Deep metal roof overhangs and stormwater management makes the structure work efficiently in all seasons. The intervention provides a long, wide porch that invites visitors to linger in the ‘quiet’ environment to enjoy the wetlands. The building is another innovative piece of modern regional architecture that is sustainable as well.

Walnut Creek Wetland Center Raleigh, NC ⎥ 2009 - Sheet1
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15. Wainwright Beach House Emerald Isle, North Carolina ⎥ 1989

Located in a picturesque site which includes a 5000-year-old sand dune, the Wainwright Beach House serves as a modern vacation home open to natural elements, suiting local climatic conditions.  The house was planned around cross-ventilation and vistas. The pair of large windows in the living room brings the essence of the ocean breeze into the house. The roof terrace can be used for sunbathing during the day and stargazing at night. Bedrooms follow a compact cum efficient arrangement. The building faced major challenges from the strong hurricane winds during its initial designing days, which was later solved through some material and technical changes in its structural skeleton.

Wainwright Beach House Emerald Isle, North Carolina ⎥ 1989 - Sheet1
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Shobhan Sachan
Author

Shobhan is an architecture student who finds writing as a powerful form to express learnings in architecture. History and theories about architecture interests him. He believes architecture to be something beyond built and unbuilt, that connects an individual to its roots and provides with a vision for future.

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