Tonic Design / Tonic Construction

Tonic Design / Tonic Construction


  • Art as Shelter

    Art as Shelter


    2009 InForm Awards
    Merit Award

    2008 Sir Walter Raleigh Award

    2008 MetalMag Architecture Award

    2008 AIA North Carolina Awards
    Merit Award

    Designed and built specifically as an integral component of the North Carolina Museum of Art’s ‘art-in-service’ initiative, ‘Art as Shelter’ offers visitors a sheltered place to sit and reflect upon the museum sculpture park and public greenway. The pavilion can be viewed as an object in the landscape or experienced from within, framing views of the sculptures, trail and the adjacent prairie.

    “It has an ephemeral quality as an object, but it also has a definite sense of space,” note one InForm Awards juror. “Sometimes when you see a project, it just hits you -- and this pavilion does that.”

    Large interior clear spans promote the use as an open-air classroom, a beautiful indoor/outdoor setting for teaching about art and nature. Docent-led student groups utilize the space as a studio; where folding tables, folding stools, and art-making materials are stored in frosted-acrylic clad boxes that double as benches and night time illumination. The metallic “skin” of the pavilion reflects its natural surroundings by taking on the colors of the grass and sky, or at times completely disappearing into a moiré pattern of light and shadow.

  • Collins Residence

    Collins Residence


    2007 North Carolina AIA Isosceles Awards
    Merit Award

    Located on a lake in a forested neighborhood, we added new program to a 1972 hexagon plan type cabin, and strove to make the existing and new addition feel as one new house.

    The existing foundations proved to be inadequate for adding a second story. We began to think of ways to spread the program for the addition around the site to create a family centered outdoor space. The inward looking courtyard serves as contrast to distant views across the water of this peninsula site.

    With a modest budget, we chose a simple shed cross section to cover each programmed bar of the plan. This allowed for quick framing and simple lines as the roof became the organizing element for the house.

    Only two moments break the clarity of the roof. As you approach the house, the floating ‘studio box’ creates hierarchy and defines the entry. As you circulate around the courtyard from the entry, the path leads you to the ‘lens’ which provides, in cross section, a moment of stepping out from under the main roof and taking advantage of the dramatic views across the water.

  • Chiles Residence

    Chiles Residence


    2006 AIA Triangle Awards
    Honor Award

    2006 AIA NC Awards
    Honor Award

    2006 WAN House of the Year
    Long List

    2008 Custom Home Awards
    Merit Award

    The Chiles Residence, an example of bold re-use, finds inspiration from an existing house to create a new piece of modern architecture. Abandoning the typical economic “tear-down” mentality, the Chiles Residence is built upon a 1960’s steel frame of a previous home. Our clients asked for “the most house like loft or loft like house.” Through re-use, the manipulated structure provides both open perches and quiet retreats on its wooded hill site as well as a canvas for the clients’ modern art collection. Using rusted steel panels and white painted steel beams, along with wood, aluminum, and glass; the house frames both art and views of the landscape.

    We found the building in terrible shape, but strong in concept.

    Inspired by the original structure and determined to save as much of the existing house as possible the new design embraces the original intentions of the home in providing a framework within which the house could grow and change to sustain the lifestyle and extensive art collection of the new owners. Six cubes form the plan of the house totaling a 48’ x 48’ square. Two of the six cubes of space created by the steel frame are exposed to define a landscaped courtyard. Skylights, open space, views between floors, and minimal partitions dissolve the perimeter of each of the main level public spaces, and a maximized balance of wall and glass at the house perimeter each contribute to a flowing space with ample ambient light.

    To contrast the main level of the house within the canopy of mature beech trees, our clients asked for a space that was more sky than tree, to give the sense and feeling of expansion. The roof garden is a combination of sculptural elements that in both form and reason challenge the clearly defined steel structure. To access the roof one must step off the steel structure into the trees, via a spiral stair, and step back on to the building where the structure and form shift in dedication to the existing structure of the house. The roof canopy is meant to provide shade and give presence as you approach the building.

    We feel that our current interpretation of architecture for the house honors its beginning and history, and accomplishes the vision of its current owners.

  • McCowan Kitchen

    McCowan Kitchen


    2005 Custom Home Award
    Merit Award

    2006 AIA Triangle Award
    Merit Award

    Our client asked us to create a place for cooking and for enjoying the meal; a room that was both modern and informal.

    Each activity is reinforced and supported by the other.

    Both areas share common materials, yet express their purpose through different forms. The strength of cast concrete and stainless steel contrasts with the warmth of clear maple. The forms of the island and hood are intended create a focus, one of preparing food that differs from the large expanding plane of the dining table that encourages sharing and conversation. Walls of built-ins form a flush backdrop of storage and display to the space.

    Simple Materials:
    Colored concrete, stainless steel, and clear maple.

    Traditional building materials, many dissimilar components, and a desire for clean lines and simple forms were integrated into this modern kitchen/dining room.

  • Honeymoon Cottage

    Honeymoon Cottage


    2002 North Carolina AIA Design Awards
    Merit Award

    2003 South Atlantic Region AIA Design Awards
    Merit Award

    25 Houses Under 1500 Square Feet
    by James Grayson Trulove

    Dwell Magazine
    December 2003, “House’s We Love”

    The Honeymoon Cottage began as a childhood dream for Vinny as he watched his grandfather build his home. A house for a Scientist and a future architect, in both process and product, this house served as opportunity and challenge. Physically fabricated by him and his wife [as architect and owner, contractor and client, laborer and occupant], this house has the same program, budget, and type of construction as its neighbors. A goal of the Honeymoon Cottage is to celebrate and reinterpret, rather than reinvent the framework of its early suburban neighborhood.

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