2013 Legacy Award Winner

Watch: NCMH- Legacy Award

LEGACY AWARD – North Carolina Modernist Houses

In 2010, the AIA North Carolina Board of Directors established the Legacy Award to recognize significant contributions to architecture by a non-architect, an individual or a group. Tonight’s recipients of the Legacy Award have profoundly influenced historic preservation statewide and dramatically increased the public’s awareness of, and participation in, architecture. In the process, they chronicled not just buildings but the lives and careers, histories and stories of their architects. AIA North Carolina is pleased to present the 2013 Legacy Award to George Smart and North Carolina Modernist Houses.

Until recently, Preservation North Carolina was North Carolina’s only private nonprofit statewide historic preservation organization. That changed last July when what was known as Triangle Modernist Houses became North Carolina Modernist Houses. The change recognized the nonprofit group’s statewide status for their mission of the documentation, preservation, and promotion of Modernist residences.

Few people realize that North Carolina is home to the greatest concentration of Modernist architecture outside of Los Angeles and Chicago. NCMH and its volunteers have documented about 1300 houses across the state from mid-century to present day. Through its website, ncmodern.org, NCMH works to keep these livable works of art occupied and well-loved.

Founded in 2007, the NCMH website is now the largest open digital archive for Modernist houses in America. Prior to NCMH’s creation, there was no central resource for fans to research Modernist architects and find houses for sale. With profiles and portfolios of over 200 North Carolina architects, the NCMH website in 2009 started a Masters section – all the residential works by Wright, Neutra, Harris, Lautner, Schindler, Meier, Gwathmey, Soriano, and more – 2,500 houses around the world that bring up to 60,000 hits a month of national and international attention to North Carolina. People just can’t believe that little ol’ Mayberry has so many cool homes.

The NCMH newsletter reaches 3,000 people each Monday morning with an exclusive statewide listing of Modernist houses for sale or rent – which also serves as an early warning system for vacancy and potential preservation actions.

Through their for-sale database, NCMH has helped more than 200 Modernist houses change hands, generating an estimated $30 million to the state’s economy. In addition, NCMH’s Endangered Alert Program saves abandoned houses from imminent destruction. Founder George Smart sums up the Endangered Alert Program as “the Navy Seal Team for mid-century modern: fast-acting realtors, appraisers, architects, builders, engineers, and other volunteers who get overpriced properties correctly valued and in the hands of new loving owners.”

The public loves NCMH and the myriad of ways it connects people with good design. NCMH’s 37 Modernist house tours and 80 other events in the last six years attracted nearly 10,000 participants to engage residential architecture at a scale never before seen. From drinking at Thirst4Architecture happy hours to eating at Appetite4Architecture dinners, NCMH programming has touched the public and solidified a leadership position among preservation nonprofits.

For this work, NCMH has been honored with awards from the Vernacular Architectural Forum, the City of Raleigh, Chapel Hill Preservation, Capital Area Preservation, Preservation Durham, Preservation North Carolina, and the IsoscelesAward for service to the profession from AIA Triangle. With Preservation  Durham, North Carolina Modernist Houses will host the 2014 NC Preservation

Director’s Conference.

NCMH’s ongoing outreach programs include:

  • The George Matsumoto Prize, a statewide design competition for excellence in new Modernist houses;
  • Project BauHow, which funds architectural education at the 9th and 10th grade level;
  • The popular ModShop, ModaPalooza, and ModStar tours of North Carolina houses;
  • Annual trips to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater and Auldbrass;
  • The ModTriangle Architecture Movie series, which now has been duplicated in Charlotte;
  • Macon Smith Research Grants which foster Modernist research and nonprofit architecture startups;
  • Extensive online document archives, including every issue of our own NC Architect magazine back to 1954;
  • Video interviews with mid-century Modernist architects, some of whom have passed away since filming;
  • And the NCMH Advisory Council, which attracts judges, bankers, realtors, architects, and homeowners as a unique focus group to advise the organization on programming.

Starting in 2010, founder George Smart’s keynote lecture “Mayberry Modernism” shares North Carolina’s love affair with Modernist architecture plus AIA North Carolina’s award-winning houses from 1951 through the present. He has spoken to 5 of the 7 AIA sections around the state and dozens of real estate, engineering, education, finance, and design groups. Smart also spoke at the AIA NC Conference in Raleigh in 2011.

Reflecting on the rapid rise of the organization since it’s founding and it’s impacts in the community, architect Frank Harmon FAIA noted that “no one has done more for architecture in North Carolina than George Smart and North Carolina Modernist Houses.”

AIA North Carolina is delighted to present the 2013 Legacy Award to George Smart and North Carolina Modernist Houses.