Raleigh, NC, May 11, 2007 --(PR.com
)-- Frank Harmon, FAIA, principal of Frank Harmon Architect in Raleigh, recently received a Merit Award from the Triangle AIA Awards program for a house he designed on Shem Creek in Charleston, South Carolina, that is quickly garnering national attention. It will be featured in both Architectural Record and Waterfront Homes & Design magazines this summer.
The Triangle AIA Awards are presented annually by the Triangle section (comprised of 10 counties in central North Carolina) of the N.C. Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The jury consisted of New Orleans and Tulane University-based practitioners Coleman Coker, Mona El Khafif, Doug Harmon and Cordula Roser. The awards were presented April 10 during a gala reception at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.
According to Harmon, the client wanted for his award-winning design wanted a spacious house with an abundance of windows open to the view of nature and wildlife on Shem Creek, which includes 100-year-old, Spanish-moss-draped live oaks. That request came with two enormous challenges: (1) The best view of the creek would be on the western elevation, where the sun would bake the house on hot summer afternoons, and (2) the house would be located in a hurricane zone, so the windows, as well as the structure itself, would have to withstand up to 150-mph winds and accompanying debris.
According to the architect, the house required “a 21st-century solution to 400-year-old problems.”
For strength, the house was built of steel and laminated-wood (Southern yellow pine) framing that rests on matt-concrete footings. The roof is one large, simple plane that shelters the house from the area’s torrential rains and collects rainwater in cisterns for landscape irrigation. Carports are dramatically cantilevered to shelter the owner’s cars and, in the off-season, boat.
The house’s long, thin shape allows each room to have windows and porches overlooking the water. The operable windows create natural cross-ventilation for the interior, which features locally available Southern yellow pine paneling.
To capitalize on the view of the creek, a large glass wall fronts the southwest side of the house. Yet this same wall had to be protected from excessive summer heat gain, while allowing cooling breezes into the house, and had to be protected from extreme weather. The solution was a series of 10 screens, hinged above the porch, constructed of hand-fabricated metal frames, which house perforated-metal panels, which can protect the house during any season. In their horizontal (open) position, they shade the house in spring and fall. In their vertical (closed) position, they create a shaded porch, allow cooling breezes to enter the house, and keep damaging debris out. Made of hot-dip galvanized steel to resist wind-borne, corrosive salt, the 800-pound screens were also designed and installed to allow a single person to lift and balance them easily as they are moved from one position to another.
After approaching this house from the long, sandy drive under a canopy of moss-draped live oaks, and climbing the gentle ramp up to the house, the view of the salt marsh – replete with blue herons, ibis, and water lilies – unfolds “like elements in a delicate Japanese painting,” Harmon said. Yet the rock-solid structure and metal screens demonstrate "the graceful strength needed to survive in a beautiful, if sometimes brutal, coastal landscape and climate.”
The innovative screens have received their own awards: one from Residential Architect magazine, a national professional journal, and another from Inform magazine, a publication of the Virginia Chapter of the AIA.
For more information on Frank Harmon, visit www.frankharmon.com.