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Frank Harmon To Deliver Harris Lecture

20090404-117 Frank Harmon , FAIA, will deliver the annual Harwell Hamilton Harris Lecture on February 15 at 7 p.m. The lecture takes place in the Burns Auditorium of Kamphoefner Hall at North Carolina State University’s College of Design in Raleigh.

Sponsored by the College of Design and the Triangle section of the American Institute of Architects/North Carolina, the annual lecture is endowed by the estate of the renowned architect Harwell Hamilton Harris, FAIA (1903-1990) who served on the faculty of NC State’s College of Design from 1962 to 1973.

Frank Harmon is a fellow of the American Institute of Architecture and a Professor in Practice at the College of Design. He is the founder and principal of Frank Harmon Architect PA, a multi-award-winning, LEED AP, green architecture firm established in 1985. He was also a close friend of Harris for many years, and he credits Harris with steering his design sensibilities towards modern, innovative and regionally appropriate design.

In 2005, when Harmon’s firm was named Top Firm of the Year by Residential Architect magazine, he told writer Vernon Mays, “[Harwell Harris] taught me that every client and every situation is different and new. And it is the architect’s job to understand the needs of every situation and every client. He loved to say that the house is a portrait of the client.”
Harris also taught Harmon to infuse warmth and familiarity into modern architecture by embracing what Harris called the “sticks and stones” of the place: the landscape, materials, climate and culture specific to the region in which a building will be built.

“What people thought was cold and threatening modernism, he made warm and approachable,” Harmon says.

Harmon’s lecture will focus on “why Harwell Hamilton Harris is important today,” he said. “His work embraces the whole of the environment – from the living room to the city – and all the particulars that go into making a building. He was also the first architect to write about the importance of regionalism in modern architecture.”

Harmon will discuss specific Harris projects – including his personal home and office on Cox Avenue in downtown Raleigh and St. Giles Presbyterian Church in North Raleigh – that strongly influenced Harmon’s own work.

Originally from California, Harwell Hamilton Harris was a sculptor who changed careers after he visited Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in Los Angeles. He worked with Richard Neutra from 1928 until 1932 then merged the ideals of modern and California regionalist architecture into his residential work of the ‘30s and ‘40s. He served as Dean for the University of Texas School of Architecture from 1952-1955 and practiced in Dallas until 1962 when he moved to Raleigh to teach at NC State. He retired from teaching in 1973 but continued to practice until shortly before his death. He was a professor emeritus at the university when he died at the age of 87.

The Harwell Hamilton Harris lecture is free and open to the public. Parking is available in the Coliseum parking deck. Limited parking may also be found in the Riddick or Peele parking lots after 5 pm. Parking along campus streets is not permitted unless otherwise noted. For more information on the lecture call 919.515.8350.

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