NCMH is the website for Triangle Modernist Archive, Inc., a North Carolina 501C3
educational nonprofit archive committed to documenting, preserving, and promoting residential Modernist architecture.
NCMH is recognized (see right) for local, state, and
national leadership in historic preservation,
reviving interest in the state's legacy of great architecture.
Started in 2007, NCMH had a local focus and was called Triangle Modernist Houses (TMH). By 2013,
TMH documented most of the Modernist houses and architects in North Carolina.
We changed the name to reflect that statewide coverage.
In addition, NCMH maintains the
Masters Gallery, the largest online digital archive of well-known mid-century Modernist houses and architects in America.
Wright, Neutra, Schindler, Ain, Gehry, Lautner, and more, including all
NCMH continually hosts popular Modernist house tours,
design networking events, architecture movies, and Modernist trips, giving thousands of people access to the most exciting residential architecture, past and present.
NCMH raises awareness, connects people with their past history and with their future dream homes, and preserves the legacy of exceptional works of art in the form of Modernist houses for future generations.
For passionate architecture fans, which are many, Modernist houses evoke a true love. These houses connect people to nature and the land through carefully designed spaces
that are relaxing, compelling, and utterly addictive. For many, Modernist houses are livable sculptures.
What is a Modernist house? 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.
Learn more about Modernist design types.
Modernism is not just a design but also a way of
life. Early Modernists wanted to change the way the average person lived by
making houses and objects more affordable through efficiencies gained in
streamlined and simplified production techniques, and by emphasizing
a casual yet very strong connectivity within the family. Hence, the emphasis
on a large, single family space -- where kitchen, dining, and living rooms
flow into each other without impediment -- with more private space
(bedrooms) small and primarily utilitarian. The blur between indoors and
outdoors via vast expanses of windows and inner courtyards continued the
emphasis on full-family gathering spaces, both inside and out. Gone were
"formal" dining and "formal" living rooms. Today's Modernist designers
continue the lessons learned from those brilliant early modernists.
How many Modernist houses are there in North Carolina? About 1300. Modernist design is rare in any housing market. However, we have more than anywhere else in the United States except for Los Angeles and Long Island.
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
failure 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
Arapahoe Acres or Los Angeles, unconventional houses are considered slightly treasonous anomalies to the conservative homeowner 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." In
simpler words, architects frequently overestimate modern design's effect on social change.
As former 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 houses? 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.
Are Modernist houses endangered? 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 extraordinary
Catalano 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.
NCMH has helped hundreds of
Modernist houses change hands and was directly involved in saving:
Taylor House, Chapel
and George Matsumoto
Carr House, Durham,
Chapel Hill, by
Raleigh Frye Lake
House, Hickory, by
NCMH Board of Directors
Sharon Glazener (Vice Chair and Secretary),
George Smart (Board Chair), Eleanor Stell, Deborah Rodgers.
Memberships / Affiliations