On a recent Sunday morning, Frank Harmon sat down at his computer to check his email. He was initially delighted to see a message from a cherished friend and renowned former client, Dr. Lucy Daniels, psychoanalytic psychologist, philanthropist, founder of the Lucy Daniels Center for Early Childhood and the Lucy Daniels Foundation, Guggenheim Fellowship […]
Frank Harmon Architects – 15 Iconic Projects
by RTF staff
Frank Harmon Architects [sic] 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 a maker of modern, sustainable, innovative, and regionally appropriate designs fulfilling contemporary needs. From private residences to major museums and wood design to sustainability, the studio has served as a great contributor to regional architecture. Frank Harmon believes in designing a 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…
CLICK HERE to see all 15 projects.
Horse & Buggy Press in Durham Presents
“Sketchbook / Artist’s Book Shop” Exhibition
“In 1963, at the age of 22, I traveled to Italy on my Triumph motorcycle for the summer and took my sketchbook with me,” Frank Harmon writes in the introduction to his book Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See. “I’ve had a sketchbook in my pocket ever since.”
Frank has filled a lot of sketchbooks over the past 58 years. Today, the general public has a chance to look inside one of them, thanks to Doug Wofford of Horse & Buggy Press in Durham. Now through November 6, Wofford is hosting a special exhibition entitled “Sketchbook / Artist’s Book Show” on display in PS 118 Gallery and Event Space, located at 118 West Parish Street, Durham.
“I discovered that if I took a photograph of a place, I would probably forget it. But if I sketched it, I remembered that place forever.” ~ F. Harmon in Native Places
The exhibition includes sketchbooks from seven artists — Phil Blank, Catherine Edgerton, Ripley Whiteside, Bethany Bash, Stephanie Witchger, and Stephen Gibson — and one architect: Frank Harmon.
Wofford explained his reason for the “Sketchbooks” show: “I’ve long enjoyed seeing the energy and vitality of sketchbooks kept by artists. When [artist Catherine Edgerton] showed me her amazing books, which are true works of art in themselves and very sculptural, I realized it would be fun to curate a group sketchbook show.”
Wofford is also offering high-quality digital prints from any favorite page or spread in any of the books (up to 12-inches x 18-inches) “so people can take favorite moments home to grace their walls,” he said.
Another bonus: Copies of Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See are available for purchase in the gallery.
Free to the public, “Sketchbook / Artist’s Book Show” is open to walk-in visitors each Friday and Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. and other days by appointment only (contact firstname.lastname@example.org). An artists’ reception is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, September 25, from 4-6 p.m.
Click here for more information on the exhibition, the gallery, and Horse & Buggy Press.
For more information on Frank Harmon and Native Places, visit nativeplacesthebook.com.
All of the architects featured in the Venice Biennale’s tribute to contemporary architecture in the American South received an Exhibition Board for displaying photographs of select projects. The Boards also feature essays, written by the architects, that they feel capture the essence of their design sensibilities.
Digital versions of the Exhibition Boards are available online. To see Frank Harmon’s Board and read his essay — which includes a quote from a lecture by his mentor, Harwell Hamilton Harris — click HERE
Essay teaser: “A simple pleasure I enjoy each day is drinking tea from a hand-made bowl…”
“Across the architectural profession, Frank Harmon, FAIA, is the face of North Carolina architecture…[He] has brought to a national audience a glimpse of the unique character and architectural culture of his home state.”
Architect Jeffrey Lee, FAIA, wrote that assessment in his letter to nominate Frank for the 2013 NCAIA Gold Medal. This year, Frank and the work he produced in his former firm Frank Harmon Architect (he is now retired) are included in a special exhibition coinciding with the 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale entitled “A SOUTH FORTY: Contemporary Architecture and Design in the American South.” The exhibition is installed in the Great Hall at Palazzo Mora in Venice, Italy.
The Venice Biennale, Italian Società di Cultura la Biennale di Venezia, is an international art exhibition featuring architecture, visual arts, cinema, dance, music, and theater. It is held in the Castello district of Venice every two years during the summer. On the preview days, 25,000 artists, collectors, curators, museum directors, and journalists attend, followed by 600,000 visitors in the months after.
The Fay Jones School of Architecture & Design at the University of Arkansas, along with the literary journal Oxford American and modus studio in Fayetteville, AR, organized A SOUTH FORTY “to provide an overview of the current vitality of contemporary architecture and design in the American South…” by looking at the work and principles of architects who practice in the region.”
The criteria for a regional architect’s work to be included in the exhibition reads like a brief narrative of Frank’s projects and the principles that guided him: “…place-based design, attentive to the necessities of climate, materials, labor, and purpose, but also attentive to overlooked or undervalued typologies, constituencies, and locales.”
Frank credits his friend and mentor, the late Harwell Hamilton Harris, with his professional osmosis from a modernist architect to a modern regionalist architect who embraces the environmentally sustainable principle of designing houses and buildings based on the context, customs, climate, geology, geography, and topography in a particular region. Regionally appropriate structures use regionally practical materials and feature elements specific to climatic needs.
Harris moved to Raleigh from California in 1962 to teach at NC State University’s School of Design (now College of Design). According to Frank, Harwell taught his students that the most important assets of a region are “its free minds, its imagination, its stake in the future, its energy, and, last of all, its climate, its topography, and the particular kind of sticks and stones it has to build with.”
Frank, in turn, has shared this wisdom with his own architecture students at NC State (some are included in the Venice exhibition), with interns and staff in his former firm, and with fellow practitioners through multiple seminars at state, regional, and national AIA conventions.
From his book Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See — Frank’s sketch of an old barn in Deltaville, VA.
Along with Harwell Harris’s influence, Frank credits his study of vernacular architecture, especially old barns and farmhouses throughout the rural South, with his dedication to sustainable, regionally appropriate design. “I’ve learned more about architecture from studying old barns than I ever did in a classroom,” he tells his audiences.
A prime example of his regionally appropriate methodology is the multi-award-winning Iron Studio that Frank designed for the Penland School of Arts & Crafts in the North Carolina mountains in 2000. That project was featured in Architectural Record in 2014 and is showcased in A SOUTH FORTY.
The Venice Biennale runs through November 21. For more information, click here.
To see a full gallery of Frank’s work, visit www.frankharmon.com.
From his home in Raleigh, NC celebrated architect Frank Harmon will join members and friends of the Indiana chapter of the American Institute of Architects (Indiana AIA) to discuss drawing, writing, and the making of architecture via a live, illustrated Zoom presentation on Thursday, May 13th, from 4-5 pm.
“My goal is to inspire other architects by offering a sense of hope and possibility in the closely observed world outside our windows,” Frank says as he continues engaging virtual audiences and fans of his book, Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See, across the U.S. Most recently, he shared his book, work, and thoughts with over 90 participants when his own NCAIA section — AIA Triangle — kicked off Frank’s spring events on April 22.
Following his 45-minute program, Frank will lead what has proven to be a lively Q&A session for participants.
The May 13th webinar is approved for 1 AIA LU. Attendance is free but registration is required. Click here to go to the Eventbrite page to do so.
Comprised of four sections across the state, AIA Indiana is based in Indianapolis. For more information, visit aiaindiana.org.
April 22, 2021
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
1 LU credit
Upon completion, participants will
- Explain how drawing can truly change our perception and memory of space;
- Identify techniques in which writing can help clarify our design ideas;
- Identify new ways of communicating effectively with clients and public officials; and
- Explain the concept that writing and drawing will help us discover and express the intangibles that produce good design.
- Online program – registration required for CE credit
- Deadline to register is 10:00 am on April 22, 2021. Click here to register.
- Zoom meeting link will be emailed to registrants the morning of the program
By J. Michael Welton
When Raleigh, North Carolina, architect Frank Harmon heard what his client wanted in her new home, it must have sounded like music to his ears. “I told him that light was very important, as was access to the outdoors,” says homeowner Sepi Saidi. “I wanted to feel like I’m living outside, with natural light and greenery that feels like it’s coming right into the house.”
As a graduate of NC State University—the same school where Harmon teaches architecture—Sepi was aware the architect had been pursuing that grail for most of his 50-year career. Striking up a friendship with fellow professor Harwell Hamilton Harris, a former protégé of uber-modernists Rudolph Schindler and Richard Neutra, during his tenure left a lasting impact on Harmon, whose own architecture followed suit. His work has come to rely on living in natural light, merging structures and landscape and integrating spatial volumes—concepts he believes enhance the human experience.
The architect’s design for Sepi in Raleigh’s vibrant Cameron Village was no different. A civil engineer at the height of her career, Sepi requested a home that would center her—a retreat from her busy professional life. “Frank endeavored to create privacy in a very dense urban area,” Sepi says. “And he did: The home is simple, with clean lines, and calming.” READ MORE