03 August 2012

Chance Encounters: NC Center for Architecture and Design

"Chance Encounters with Modern Architecture" is meant as a postcard of sorts, of unexpected finds of modern architecture – or perhaps art – which caught my eye.


AIA (American Institute of Architects) North Carolina Center for Architecture and Design in Raleigh, NC.

What is it:

New headquarters for the North Carolina AIA chapter, designed by Frank Harmon FAIA, opened in early 2012. The 12,000 sf project houses AIA activities such as exhibitions on the first and basement floors, with a small cafeteria open to the public to come. The first floor contains the lobby as well as flex space available to the public for rent, the second floor houses AIA offices, and the third as well as part of the second offer rental space.

Why did it catch my eye:

For one, it's the talk of the town (and the press), and if you visit friends in Raleigh – especially the architecturally-crazed like I am – you can barely escape invitations to drive over and see the building. 

And is it worth it. Harmon, after winning a statewide competition to design the building, said he saw the commission as his chance to create “an embassy for architecture”.

The triangular site is close to the State Capitol and other government buildings near downtown, at a signalized intersection with good exposure and accessibility. Harmon created a surprisingly compact building on an East-West axis, shielding part of the northern facade with a "folded over" zink roof. In contrast, the south features a glass window wall with a metal screen which eventually will be covered with vines, facing parking and a public plaza intended to also host events. 

A lot of thought was given to create a "green" structure, from the – glass enclosed! – HVAC room housing an array of heat pumps to the use of local materials such as local stone and North Carolina Cypress wood, to the low-maintenance landscape by Virginia-based landscape architect Gregg Bleam. (Compliments to the trades, which donated heavily to the project, as David Crawford, the AIA's friendly and very helpful Executive Director, pointed out). Harmon's environmental efforts gained the building an astonishing LEED Platinum rating. But besides that, it is lovely indeed and worth your time when in town.

Where is it: 

14 East Peace Street, Raleigh, NC 27604. Location map

Front (SE) elevation with entrance
Zinked screen on front fa├žade
Multifunction room
View north, on a different style of architecture
Metal screen on south side
Filling station for electric cars
Parking lot/plaza designed to collect rainwater underneath
Site aerial during construction
All photos except bottom pic ©tckaiser.

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