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Frank Harmon

‘Native Places’ is more than a book; it’s a devotional

Review by Eleanor Spicer Rice, Ph.D.

Frank Harmon

Carolina Wren by Frank Harmon

When marveling over Columbus, Indiana’s city structure, Frank Harmon points to the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto’s view that “architecture belongs to culture, not civilization.” In Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See, architecture belongs to Frank Harmon, and he gives it to us like a gift.

Each page of Native Places pairs one of Harmon’s charming illustrations with a vignette of his perspective, which magnifies the small (a Carolina wren perched on an excavator, for example), shrinks the large (Kansas and Georgia landscapes seen from an airplane window), and reveals the astonishing, functional beauty of each.

Like a child picking up fistfuls of seemingly commonplace stones, Harmon gathers places in all their forms and meanings and thoughtfully lays them in his book, where the ordinary becomes extraordinary and everyday life takes on a new texture and meaning.

In Native Places, architectural marvels can be obvious, like Thomas Jefferson’s Lawn at the University of Virginia, but they also can be the often-unnoticed quotidian, like window boxes along London’s streets. After all, great architects draw lasting monoliths, or they hammer planks on sensible barns. The resulting effect is an enrichment of the reader’s everyday experience, a wonderment over the human hand-sized bricks that stack up to form our homes or the bats roosting beneath the soffits.

Frank Harmon

Window boxes in London by Frank Harmon

Native Places is more than a book; it’s a devotional. The reader can pick it up and open to any page to find a complete and renewing story. It can be read in chunks or a page at a time. It can wait beautifully and patiently for casual readers on their coffee tables, or it can be an important bedside staple.

One last, but important feature of Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See is its author. As shorebirds and dustpans have made impressions on him, people across the world have experienced Harmon’s influence as an architect. Harmon’s architectural contributions include the AIANC building, his award-winning residences, and years as a sought-after professor at NC State University. The opportunity to explore a legendary influencer’s perception is a brilliant delight, one guaranteed to leave the reader feeling gratified and with a revitalized sense of awe, if we take the time to look.

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Eleanor Spicer Rice, Ph.D., is Senior Science Editor for Verdant Word, specializing in communicating scientific ideas to a popular audience. 

 

Frank Harmon, Native Places

Author Events in the Works

Frank Harmon, Native Places

Frank signing books at Quail Ridge Books in September.

On Monday, October 15, Native Places author Frank Harmon will present a lecture in Tucson, AZ, to the University of Arizona School of Architecture students and faculty. The lecture will take place in the Tucson Museum of Art, where he will not be able to sell or sign copies of his book, but he will introduce it and tell them where to order it.

On October 18th, the North Carolina chapter of the American Institute of Architects will host a book signing for Frank as part of the AIA NC Conference, held this year in Durham. Frank will sign copies of Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See during the opening Membership Meeting on the 18th from 4-6 p.m.

Specific dates and times haven’t been determined as of this writing (9.14.18), but future author events for Frank and his book — so far — include:

Watch this space for updates.

Native Places at Quail Ridge Books

‘Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See’ on Display at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh

Native Places at Quail Ridge Books

Rene Martin and the rest of the terrific team at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh’s premier bookstore, set up this lovely display of Native Places: Drawing as Way to See.

Reminder: After needing to postpone the original date (Sept. 15), Quail Ridge will host author Frank Harmon Sunday, September 23, beginning at 2 p.m. as he and the Raleigh community celebrate the release of the book that J. Michael Welton, architecture critic for the News & Observer, calls “a delightful book, destined to change how we see the world.”

Frank will give a brief talk, answer questions, then sign copies of his book and chat with the audience.

 

Quail Ridge Books Event Postponed to September 23rd

Native Places by Frank Harmon

By Juli Leonard, News & Observer

Quail Ridge Books’ Meet the Author and Book Signing event in Raleigh for Frank Harmon and Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See has been postponed to Sunday, September 23rd, beginning at 2 p.m.

If you cannot attend on that day but would like your book signed, Quail Ridge coordinator Sarah Godden asks that you call (919.828.1599) or send an email (sarah@quailridgebooks.com).

If you would prefer a refund, call the store and they will take care of that, as well.

“If you were not planning to attend and are waiting for signed books to be shipped to you,” she said, “we hope to get that done as soon as possible, weather permitting, so they can be shipped out early next week.”