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

OCEAN HOME: ‘North Carolina Architect Frank Harmon Designs A Clever Home On A Budget”

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Photos by Richard Leo Johnson

By J. Michael Welton

One of the hallmarks of a skilled architect is to keep a project on budget. But what if the commission is on a secluded coastal island, and the owners want a 1,600-square-feet home on a budget of just $150,000?

“My initial response was ‘No way!’” says leading Raleigh-based architect Frank Harmon when he first met Boston couple Sabrina Terry and Jon Lampe at their 16.5-acre property on South Carolina’s St. Helena Island.

“They'd been camping out there in the summer,” says Harmon. “There was a bathroom structure and a tent with mosquito netting.”

Harmon was taken with their south-facing landscape on the Harbor River, where cool breezes slipped across the water and the southern exposure delivered warmth in winter. But still, there were the limited finances.

The architect persevered, exploring options like homes on wheels to sidestep flood plain zoning issues, even a trendy “tiny” home. Then he hit upon an idea, and it stuck...

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WALTER magazine, Art & Culture: “Book Excerpt: Drawing From Practice”

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Study of construction and materials by Frank Harmon

by J. Michael Welton

Chapter 13: Frank Harmon -- Expressing the Idea

On a late spring morning in 2011, a motor coach jam-packed with North Carolina architects nosed into the parking lot at Poplar Forest, Thomas Jefferson’s Palladian retreat in rural Bedford County, Virginia.

An entourage of fifty disembarked, to be divided into two groups. One would follow the estate’s director of archeology and landscape through the grounds surrounding the early 19th-century home. The other was to tour the interior of the house with its architectural historian. After lunch, the groups would switch tour guides.

But one individual, wearing a Panama hat and a white, short-sleeved linen shirt, elected to do neither. Instead, he quietly pulled out his sketchbook and pens, and strategically positioned himself on the lawn beneath the branches of a leafy tulip poplar. Slowly, he began to draw the contours of Jefferson’s octagonal-shaped masterpiece, a lyrical essay on light composed in deep-red brick, cream-colored mortar, and limestone-plastered columns. He was working to discern the nature of the building, its site and its landscape, using the fewest number of lines possible.

His name is Frank Harmon, and he’s known to some as the unofficial dean of North Carolina architects...

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AD:“The Art of Freeland Architectural Drawing is Alive and Well in a New Book”

Friday, May 15, 2015

Early sketch of northwest corner, AIA North Carolina Center for Architecture and Design by Frank Harmon Architect. Drawing: Frank Harmon

Text by Natalia Rachlin for ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST

As computers have increasingly eclipsed the notion of pencil-in-hand, has the art of the architectural sketch been lost to the ages? Drawing from Practice, Architects and the Meaning of Freehand (Routledge, $55), a new book out this month by author and journalist J. Michael Welton, argues that despite never-ending technological advances, freehand is still very much a part of the architectural profession today...

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THE BUSINESS OF ARCHITECTURE: “7 Lessons For Young Architects, with Frank Harmon, Part II

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Frank Harmon shares 7 key lessons for young architects that will help you become the architect of your dreams. CLICK HERE to view the video.

THE BUSINESS OF ARCHITECTURE: “Frank Harmon: What It Means To Be A Successful Architect, Part I”

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Frank Harmon FAIA shares thoughts on what it means to be a successful architect, and how the seeds of success need to be planted at a young age. CLICK HERE to view the video.

DEXIGNER: “Frank Harmon to Present Urban Sketching Seminar at National AIA Convention”

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Urban sketch by Frank Harmon, FAIA

Frank Harmon, FAIA, a multi-award winning architect in Raleigh, NC, and the author/illustrator of the website Native Places, will present a three-hour seminar at the American Institute of Architects' (AIA) National Convention in Atlanta in May entitled "Urban Sketching..."


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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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ARCHITECT Magazine: “Seven Sisters”

Monday, January 12, 2015

Sabrina Terry and John Lamb were tired of the cold winters of Boston and decided to relocate to the South. They found a strip of land densely wooded with oak and pine trees on St Helena Island near Beaufort, South Carolina. A feature of the site was a 200 year old live oak tree with seven trunks which they named Seven Sisters.

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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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