Frank Harmon Wins Honor Award for AIA NC Center for Architecture and Design

November 28, 2012 (Raleigh, NC) – Frank Harmon Architect PA, a multi-award-winning firm in Raleigh, NC, has received an Honor Award from the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA NC) for the design of the new AIA NC Center for Architecture and Design in downtown Raleigh.

Already praised by the media as a “heroic gesture” (Metro Magazine), a building “that behaves like the skilled diplomat it was designed to be,” (News & Observer), and “an ode in zinc and cypress, and an inviting treatise on transparency,” (Huffington Post), the building is located on an oddly shaped, previously unused lot in downtown Raleigh near the State Capitol and Government Complex.

According to Frank Harmon, FAIA, the building and landscape were conceived of as “one interlocking system” with the help of Charlottesville, VA, landscape architect Gregg Bleam, FASLA.  “The landscape is an extension of the building and the building is an extension of the landscape,” Harmon said. To underscore that concept, the native stone walls in the landscape extend inside the building.

The narrow building is sited snugly against an existing city sidewalk so that the majority of the triangular lot is a park-like green space in this urban context. Harmon and Bleam call the necessary parking space a “parking garden” because it is porously paved to dry quickly and to eliminate storm water runoff, and it can be used for a variety of outdoor functions by AIA NC and other community groups.

The building’s open floor plan features the lobby and multi-purpose room on the first floor, AIA NC’s offices on the second floor, and more offices on the third floor, including Frank Harmon’s own offices. A gallery space is located on a lower level, facing a city street. The open plan is intended to evoke a sense of community among occupants. It also makes temperature and lighting control more efficient.

Harmon designed the building to meet LEED Platinum standards, the highest LEED certification, as well as AIA Committee On The Environment (COTE) goals, which include regional appropriateness and the use of regionally available materials, land use and site ecology, sustainable materials and methods of construction, reduced water usage, and increased energy efficiency.

The siting, narrow footprint, and abundant glazing maximize natural ventilation and day light in every interior space. Other sustainability features include:

•       Geothermal heating and cooling

•       Rainwater collection for use on site

•       90 percent recycling of construction waste construction on site

•       Deep roof overhangs and porches to shade the building in the summer but allow warming light in the winter

•       A “green screen” where vines will shade the building in spring and summer

•       A zinc roof (zinc being one of the most sustainable metals available)

•       All locally available materials, including Cypress wood felled by a hurricane in the Great Dismal Swamp

•       Low-flow bathroom fixtures and zero VOC paints and carpets

•       Operable windows for cross-ventilation

“As we come out of the recession, we won't be building in the same wasteful ways,” Harmon said. “With new emphasis on alternative energy and sustainable design, the AIA NC Center shows us a new way to build.”

The annual AIA NC Design Awards celebrate the achievements of architects across the state and recognize a select group of diverse projects that distinguish themselves both in response to their clients’ needs and design excellence. For more information, visit

For more information on Frank Harmon Architect PA, visit

About Frank Harmon, FAIA:

Frank Harmon, FAIA, a Professor in Practice at NC State University, founded his firm in 1985. Since then, the firm has become nationally recognized for its modern, sustainable, and regionally appropriate designs, especially its environmental education projects. This year, the firm was ranked 17th out of the top 50 firms in the nation by Architect magazine. Last year, Frank Harmon was included in Residential Architect magazine’s “RA 50: The Short List of Architects We Love.” Harmon’s work has been featured in numerous books, magazines and journals on architecture. For more information, go to

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