“Frank Harmon has spent the past three decades fine-tuning his thoughtful, regional modernism.” – Residential Architect magazine

ARCHITECTS+ARTISANS: “Basking In The South Carolina Breezes”

Friday, February 13, 2015

Photo by Richard Leo Johnson

By Mike Welton

It’s always nice to see a plan come together:

While Boston braces for 13 more inches of snow this weekend – along with wind gusts up to 70 mph – a pair of that city’s expats will be basking in breezes warmed by the coastal South Carolina sun.

They’re living in a new home designed by Frank Harmon to do exactly that. It’s sited on 15 acres of wetlands on St. Helena Island – a residence that rises on stilts,12 feet above sea level, for fantastic views from two floors.

The cottage offers heated and cooled spaces that are minimal at best – a bedroom, dining room, kitchen, and bath. The rest is composed of screened porches, most facing south to the water over a maritime forest.

“The only problem was that they wanted a 2,000 square foot house on a $150,000 budget,” Harmon says. “I came back to the office and said: ‘Maybe I can design a trailer.’”

Instead, he gave them an expansive home – one they call “Seven Sisters,” for the number of trunks on a century-old live oak tree – that worships at the altar of sunshine, vistas and breezes...

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THE ISLAND PACKET: “Half-screened St. Helena homes makes for outdoor living most of the year.”

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Photo by Richard Leo Johnson

By Erin Shaw

Sabrina Terry and Jon Lamb of St. Helena Island enjoy year-round tidal breezes and panoramic views of nearby Hunting Island, in large part due to their unusual house.

The couple's home is 50 percent screened porches. The other half is mostly glass.

"It is just so gorgeous that most of the time we are out on the screened area. Even when we have to be inside we have the view," Terry said.

She and Lamb moved to St. Helena from Boston in 2012 to escape the harsh winters, she said.

The couple bought 15 acres and lived in an RV while Terry searched for home builders online. She soon found Raleigh architect Frank Harmon and fell in love with his work.

"I loved how he always used the land and included it in the sustainability of the house," she said. "It was as a lark that I sent him an email asking if he ever did any small projects..."


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NEWS & OBSERVER: “Raleigh Tower Built With Chimney Swifts In Mind”

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Wake Audubon Society and the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences have built a tower at the Prairie Ridge Ecostation in West Raleigh. Officials hope chimney swifts will roost here on their annual migration next fall. Many other chimneys are gone or have been capped. Photo by Travis Long

By Richard Stradling

Most people would be puzzled by the new 30-foot brick tower that stands alone at the entrance to the Prairie Ridge Ecostation in West Raleigh, but the people who built it hope that thousands of birds will know exactly what it’s for.

The tower was designed to look like a chimney from an old school or office building, the kind that attract chimney swifts by the thousands during roosting season, from August to October.

Those chimneys are becoming rarer, so the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences and the Wake Audubon Society teamed up to build a new one specifically for the birds.

“They’ll always have this chimney even if we lose every other place in Raleigh,” said John Connors, a Wake Audubon board member and retired coordinator of the museum’s Naturalist Center...

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ARCHITECTS+ARTISANS: “In Greensboro, A Park by OJB, Harmon”

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

By Mike Welton


Little Greensboro, N.C. is about to get a great big park designed by a powerhouse team of architects and landscape architects.

Ground was broken last week on the Carolyn & Maurice LeBauer Park downtown, its landscape designed by the Office of James Burnett (OJB), with pavilions from Frank Harmon Architect PA.

OJB is responsible for the innovative, award-winning, 5.2-acre Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, which spans the Woodall Rodgers Freeway downtown and features a stage and restaurant designed by architect Tom Phifer. Harmon designed the award-winning AIA N.C. Center for Architecture and Design in downtown Raleigh.

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METAL ARCHITECTURE: “An Architect’s Insights and Instincts”

Thursday, November 20, 2014


By Mark Robins, Senior Editor

When architect Frank Harmon, FAIA, founder of Frank Harmon Architect PA, Raleigh, N.C., was in his eighth grade English class, he stared out a window and saw an interesting building across the street that captivated him. Even though his mother wanted him to be a doctor, this building and his curiosity on how it was built formed the initial inspiration for his accomplished career as a multi-award-winning architect designing environmentally responsible, modern buildings.

In the past three decades he has won more AIA North Carolina (AIA NC) design awards than any other firm in the state. In 2013, Harmon received AIA NC's Carter Williams Gold Medal, the highest honor the NC AIA chapter presents "in recognition of a distinguished career or extraordinary accomplishments as an architect." He is consistently sought out as a judge for design award juries, and his design of the AIA NC Center for Architecture & Design in Raleigh received the 2013 Metal Architecture Judges Award.

As an architect dedicated to environmental sustainability, Harmon has specified metal-from standing seam to zinc-on basically all of his projects, including arts and environmental centers, commercial and liturgical buildings, museums, research facilities and dramatic single-family homes. He embraces the fact that metal roofs reflect heat and have very long life spans, and that zinc, in particular, is one of the most sustainable building materials available.

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THE INDEPENDENT WEEKLY: “N.C. State re-zoning proponents want high-rise ‘student housing towers’ ”

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

AIA NC Center for Architecture & Design hosts "Activate 14"

By Bob Geary

Hillsborough Street is on my mind. It's Raleigh's main street, with due respect to Fayetteville Street. The latter is Raleigh's big-city hub, and we are becoming quite the city—which is great. But we're not so big that people don't nod as you pass them. We're a small town at heart and a college town. And our main street is Hillsborough Street.

So I've followed its ups and downs over the years, writing to encourage its revitalization and to discourage soulless, out-of-character development. In recent months, I've cited a pending rezoning case on Hillsborough Street as an example of the way Raleigh leaders give lip service to good land-use planning—as in the 2030 Comprehensive Plan—but don't follow through.

Today, I want to come at that rezoning case a different way. Yes, the proposal for seven-story student housing on the north side of Hillsborough Street clashes with the comprehensive plan, which calls for three-to-five story buildings max—but perhaps the plan is wrong?

Proponents of the rezoning have offered a different vision for Hillsborough Street:

A student housing village of seven-story and taller towers across from N.C. State and pushing back to Vanderbilt Avenue or even Clark Avenue. Thousands of NCSU students could walk to campus.

Before I discuss it, I want to give a nod to an upcoming series hosted by the N.C. Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (see box, this page). I'm drawn especially to the first topic, Community Engagement and Placemaking, which bears the stamp of the leadoff speaker, architect Frank Harmon.

When I asked Harmon, a brilliant designer, teacher and writer, what prompted the series, he responded immediately: "I saw another dreary set of apartments going up from my office window."

With the recession over, Raleigh can expect a growth spurt in the next five years equal to our last 20, Harmon said. "The whole point is to reach out and tell people that they can have a role in how their city grows..."

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ARCHITECT: “The best in the Sustainability Category in the 2014 Architect 50

Monday, September 8, 2014

Frank Harmon Architect PA ranks 15th in the 2014 list


By Eric Willis, Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson, Karlin Associates

Every year, we approach the ARCHITECT 50 with the same premise. It may be impossible to capture every way in which a firm can excel, have a significant impact on its community, mentor a younger generation of designers, and help save the planet with its energy-efficient buildings. But we nevertheless strive to compile a list that recognizes firms small and large, who are making their mark beyond just their ability to run a financially lucrative business. This year, we added a few new data points, capturing information on how firms are helping their interns gain licensure, both through financial incentives and culture. And we asked firms to submit a portfolio with an energy-efficient project that best exemplified their commitment to sustainability (ARCHITECT editors judged those submissions). When we ran the numbers (check out our methodology here), some familiar firms rose to the top...some newcomers rocketed into the top 10...and some unexpected interlopers crashed the proceedings. In the end, the exact positions may not capture the full extent of how firms are excelling. But we hope that the list inspires architects to review their own best practices and embrace even higher ambitions.


NORTH CAROLINA HOMES: “Designing Your Own Home with an Architect: An Interview with Frank Harmon of

Monday, March 17, 2014

A peek through the garden wall at Frank Harmon's own home.


When it comes to designing your own home, the process can be strenuous, tedious, and overbearing. That is when you realize it's probably best to enlist in a professionals help, such as an architect. So we interviewed Frank Harmon of Frank Harmon Architect PA to learn more about the architects involvement in the home design process...


Where Should Someone Who Wants to Design Their Own Home Begin?

FH: By going to an architect. The most important aspect of designing a home is the specific site on which it will be built. Most homeowners just don't realize that. An architect can reconcile the homeowner's needs with the specifics of the site, from hydrology and which direction it's facing to how many trees or other terrain issues will be impacted. And how the house is oriented on the site will impact its access to natural light and ventilation, desired views and undesirable views, etc...


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ARCHITECTS + ARTISANS: “The Nags Head Cottages”

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

"...the finest houses in North Carolina."

Guest post by Frank Harmon, FAIA

A row of shingled cottages in Nags Head, N.C. has welcomed the rising sun over the Atlantic Ocean for more than 100 years. Samuel J. Twine, a craftsman from Elizabeth City, built or at least added onto many of them. Families from mainland North Carolina and Virginia originally came to the cottages by boat to enjoy perennial, summer-long vacations.

Countless hurricanes changed the shape of the seashore at Nags Head, and the automobile age ushered in motels, parking lots, and saltwater McMansions. But these dusky houses command a mile-long strip of frugal beauty.

I think these are the finest houses in North Carolina. They are built with local materials: juniper shingles, recycled lumber, even parts of shipwrecks. They are sturdy enough to resist hurricanes, yet light enough to welcome the sun and summer breeze...

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WALTER MAGAZINE: “Forms That Function”

Friday, February 28, 2014

Frank Harmon: 360 degrees

Architect Frank Harmon may have designed his own office, but it wasn’t originally meant for him. His third-floor space on East Peace Street was designed as an office for lease atop the American Institute of Architects North Carolina Center for Architecture and Design – a way to bring in revenue to help pay for the new structure.

But as the Great Recession dragged doggedly on, tenants were less than forthcoming. So Harmon, having paid off the mortgage on his office in nearby Boylan Heights, decided to lease the new space himself.

All the moving parts came together to benefit each party involved...

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