North Carolina Modernist Houses (NCMH)?
NCMH is the
website for Triangle Modernist Archive, Inc., a North Carolina
501C3 nonprofit organization committed to documenting, preserving, and
promoting residential Modernist architecture.
in 2007, and originally called Triangle Modernist Houses
(TMH), NCMH expanded to cover not only all of North
Carolina but many of the most well-known mid-century Modernist houses
and architects in the
For passionate fans, which are many, Modernist houses evoke a true love. These
have people feel connected to nature and the land through the architecture. Modernist houses are
also, for many, livable
NCMH has won awards (see right)
for historic preservation. We preserve and revive the state's
legacy of great architecture. We host popular Modernist house
tours, movies, and trips, giving thousands of people access to the most
exciting residential architecture, past and present. These events
raise awareness, connect people with their dreams of great design, and help
preserve these exceptional works of art for future generations.
What is a
Modernist design is characterized by features such as
combining traditionally separate common areas (like the
living room and the dining room, for example), open
interior floor plans with vaulted ceilings, large and
numerous windows, flat or low pitched roofs, long exposed
beams, extensive use of glass to bring in natural light,
and aesthetic geometric forms. See
for an excellent review of Modernist types.
How many Modernist
houses are there in the Triangle?
estimate is about 750.
is rare in any housing market. However, we have more than
anywhere else in the United States except for Los Angeles and
Why aren't Modernist
houses more popular?
Modernist houses truly rock, if you are into this kind of thing.
Sadly, most people aren't. The staggering
of modernist design to catch on with homebuyers is disappointing
for its few but loyal admirers. The general public tends to
think Modernist homes are cool but consistently buy more
traditional designs. Except in rare cases, like
unconventional houses are considered slightly treasonous
anomalies to the conservative homeowners association mindset.
What is "brilliant" to an architecturally-inclined person is
often unsettling to the neighbors. Maintenance can be a
problem, too. The bolder the design, the more likely a
house will have water or structural damage over time. The
good news is that materials science has finally caught up with
modernist design, so most new houses don't have these problems.
And, like other works of art, these houses tend to be more
expensive than average.
Architecture critic Colin Rowe
once said that "modern
architecture’s fatal flaw is when architects "stipulate
an intrinsic connection
between the form of a building and the condition of society."
words, modern design's effect on social change can, and often
is, overestimated by the profession (and its fans).
Modernist homeowner Lynda Calabrese of Charlotte said,
"People want to be safe and they want to be like everyone
else. That's why everyone shops at The Gap. Realtors
don't even like to use the word 'contemporary' in their
advertisements. It's like the curse."
Who lives in Modernist
Modernist houses are generally more works of art than
construction, and the general public has little taste for living
inside art. However, artists, academics, architects,
children of architects, and all their patient spouses typically
love to live inside art.
Yes, especially those built in the 1950's and 1960's.
Their locations, often on prime real estate inside cities, are
worth much more than the houses, making demolition and
development an attractive option. For example, see
the sad fate of the
house, Raleigh's internationally known landmark.
By networking current owners and providing the public detailed
information, histories and maps, we help endangered houses be
purchased or otherwise preserved.
2013 Advisory Council
Top Row Left to Right: David
Crawford/Executive Vice President, AIA North
Carolina, Kim Weiss/Blueplate PR,
Caterri Woodrum/Chief Financial
Officer, NC Museum of Art, Todd
Kosmerick/University Archivist, NCSU Special
Collections, Queron Smith/M&F Bank.
Bottom Row Left to Right: Sarah
Anne Stoddard/Director of Development, Grubb
Huin/Coldwell Banker HPW, Frank Harmon/Frank Harmon
Sebastian/Designer, Water Robbs Callahan Pierce.
Not shown: Judge Barbara Jackson/North Carolina
Supreme Court, Wendy Hillis/Executive
Director, Preservation Durham, John Taylor/Advancement Solutions, Shirley Drechsel.
2012 Advisory Council
Left to Right: Greg
Raschke/NCSU Libraries, David Brook/NC Archives and
History, Jody Brown/Coffee with an Architect, Matt
Griffith/in situ studio, Emilie Huin/Prudential YSU,
Queron Smith/M&F Bank, Paul Lipchak/The Freelon Group,
Ann Marie Baum/CherryModern, Tika Hicks/Frank Harmon
Architects, Brian Shawcroft, Robby Johnston/Clearscapes.
Not shown: Caterri Woodrum/NC Museum of Art, Stan
Williams/NC Symphony, Sarah Sonke/ModernHomeAuctions, Kim Weiss/Blueplate PR.
2011-2012 Board of Directors
Left to Right: Deborah Chay, Sharon Glazener / Principal, Bell
Glazener Design Group (Vice Chair and Secretary), George Smart /
Managing Partner, Strategic Development Inc. (Board Chair),
Eleanor Stell / NC State University, Deborah Rodgers.
Missing: Leslie Glascock. Yes, the car is a
Delorean and the house is a
Lustron. Photo by
Left to Right: David
Hill/NCSU College of Design, Doug Brinkley/PBC+L, Dail Dixon,
Jessica Johnson Moore/More Space Studio, Jerry Nowell/Nowell's Contemporary
Furniture, George Smart, Chris Chinchar, John
Morris/Goodnight Raleigh, John Chiles, Erin Sterling Lewis/in
situ studio, Tobias Kaiser/Modernist Realtor, and Robin
Abrams/NCSU College of Design. Not shown: Thomas
Crowder/Architektur PA and Kim Weiss/Blueplate PR.
2009-2010 Board of Directors
Left to Right: Sharon Glazener / Principal, Bell
Glazener Design Group (Secretary), Dr. Monica Hunter
(Treasurer), Emily Kass / Director, UNC Ackland Art Museum,
Mack Paul / Partner, K&L Gates (Vice Chair), George Smart /
Managing Partner, Strategic Development Inc. (Board Chair),
Eleanor Stell / NC State University, Lesley McAdams.
Photo by Audie Schechter.
Left to Right:
Rusty Long/Davenport Architects, Erin Sterling/Frank Harmon
Architects, Bill Hopkins/Hopkins McClure, Jane
Thurman/KCI, Theresa Rosenberg, Leilani Carter, Khalid
Almo/BBH, Vincent Whitehurst, Debra Smith/Modern Home
Network, and Kim Weiss/Blueplate PR. Not
shown: Elizabeth Sappenfield/Preservation North Carolina.
Left to Right: KC Ramsay / Principal, Craige and
Van Roden Photography, Anne Stoddard / Principal, The
Stoddard Group, Arielle Schechter / Principal, Arielle
Schechter AIA, Sally Greene / Attorney, Anne Seeley /
Graduate Student, NCSU College of Design, Becky Shankle /
Principal, Eco-Modernism, Heather Rule / Designer, BBH
Design, Bob Langford / Senior Producer, Back Home
August 2008, we
435 houses, 100 architects, and
By March of
2009, we documented about
130 architects, and 3000 photos.
We went on Facebook in the fall of 2009.
By January of 2012, we documented
3700 houses and 14500 photos.
By January of 2013, we documented about
houses, 255 architects, and 15000 photos.
NCMH received the 2013 Blast from the Past Award from
Historic Charlotte for documentation of Charlotte houses.
NCMH received the 2013 AIA North
Carolina Legacy Award
for service to architecture by a non-architect
George Smart and TMH received the 2013 Isosceles Award
from AIA Triangle for service to architecture by
George Smart was
Tar Heel of the Week
in the June 2012 Raleigh News and Observer
TMH received the
2011 Anthemion Award from Capital Area Preservation
TMH received the
2011 Advocacy Award from Preservation Durham
George Smart received the 2009 Sir Walter Raleigh Individual Award for Community
Appearance from the City of Raleigh
TMH received the 2009 Paul E. Buchanan Award from the Vernacular Architecture
Forum, established in 1993 to recognize contributions to vernacular architecture
that do not take the form of books or published work
George Smart received the
2008 Gertrude S.
of Merit by
Preservation North Carolina
individuals and organizations that have
demonstrated an outstanding commitment to
promoting historic preservation
2008 Award of Merit by the
Preservation Society of Chapel Hill
for the effective use of the internet as a educational and preservation tool