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                          Two architects — one in Raleigh, one in Wilmington —;
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lydia aydlett


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       Among one of the “greenest”
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blueplate pr gets Frank Harmon, FAIA, an included in a spread on eco-sensitive design in NC Signature magazine

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Nc Signature

  1. 1. eco Smart Two architects — one in Raleigh, one in Wilmington —; a Cullowhee professor; an innovative Wake Forest builder; a coastal real-estate developer; and the owners of a vacation retreat in Marion all share an environmentally friendly vision and take steps to preserve and protect the landscape SKETCH BY LIGON FLYNN of North Carolina. www.ncsignature.com 117
  2. 2. NATURALLY DOING WHAT COMES frank harmon PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRYAN REGAN PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRYAN REGAN At home, Frank Harmon reads the paper by an Architect Frank Harmon established his love for the outdoors while expanse of natural light. Opposite: Harmon’s home splashing around the creeks of his native Greensboro and has since is supported by concrete shared his respect for the environment with students and clients alike. piers, thereby protecting underground tree roots. Lori K. Tate Written by www.ncsignature.com 119 118 North Carolina Signature September/October 2007
  3. 3. Eco Smart: “THE I DESTRUCTION OF OUR LANDSCAPE, THINK, IS UNCONSCIONABLE BECAUSE THAT’S ACTUALLY THE MOST frank harmon PRECIOUS GIFT THAT WE GIVE TO OUR CHILDREN.” F ‘BETTER THAN YOU FOUND IT’ Getty Center in Los Angeles, California, and the Museum of rank Harmon discovered Contemporary Art in Barcelona, Spain. Greenway Park when he was Harmon founded Frank Harmon Architect in 1983 and eight years old. Growing up he has since completed more than 200 architectural projects. spent countless hours playing Housed in a weathered gray building that offers a distant in the park’s streambed build- view of the Raleigh skyline, Frank Harmon Architect includes ing dams and forts, observing Harmon and his team of four (six in the summer with the the nesting habits of kingfishers, addition of interns). His wife Judy, a landscape architect, also and watching tadpoles hatch. shares the space, as they often collaborate on projects. “I just adored this place,” recalls the Raleigh architect. “I WORKING WITH NATURE Although the structures designed at Frank Harmon realized when I became an adult that some person thought Architect are aesthetically pleasing, the core of every design is of that and what a gift I owe to him or to her who thought sustainability. “It starts by thinking about the site,” explains of this idea of turning that streambed into a park. It just fur- Harmon. “If you look at any old ther reinforced me and my farm house in North Carolina, you’ll belief that we as architects see that the farmer who built it knew can do wonderful things for about orientation and knew where other people not only now the sun would set in the summer and but in the future.” knew where the breezes came from. Wearing a brown fedora, That’s why I love the roads of North 66-year-old Harmon drives Carolina because there are all these down Raleigh’s Hillsborough lessons lying out there in front of us Street quoting Walt about how to use the site well.” Whitman’s “When Lilacs Last in the Door-yard Bloom’d” as he talks about spring. Listening to him wax If Harmon has a mantra it is this: poetic about flowers with his Always leave the site better than you rich voice tinged with just found it. The project his firm the right amount of Southern accent, it’s clear his love for recently completed for Circular Congregational Church, nature hasn’t wavered since those days of splashing in a Charleston, South Carolina’s oldest church (circa 1681), is a streambed. perfect example. “They really wanted this addition that Harmon believes the environment is to be respected. That would give them ways to extend their urban ministry, and it belief has served as the foundation of his career, and it’s a was in a churchyard, which meant we had to move some belief he’s been passing on to students at North Carolina graves, but they were totally alright with that,” says Harmon. State University since he began teaching there in 1983. “It also meant that we had to cut down an elm tree, and so I promised them that the building we gave back would be better, would make that site better, and would actually be more green. That’s what they got.” Turns out the elm tree Fascinated with an older home across the street from his PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRYAN REGAN was diseased and would have eventually fallen anyway. junior high school in Greensboro, Harmon decided to Harmon used the wood from the tree in the building. become an architect in eighth grade. He began studying Using reclaimed materials and local materials are two architecture at NCSU and then transferred to the Architectural Association in London. He worked in England important components of green architecture. “The environ- mentally responsible reason [for using local materials] is that for six years after graduation and later moved to New York you don’t have to transport the materials,” says Harmon. City to work with Richard Meier, whose work includes The 120 North Carolina Signature September/October 2007
  4. 4. Eco Smart: frank harmon NATURAL FIT A Erin Sterling, 29, has been working with Frank Harmon as an intern architect/designer for the past five years. She’s currently working on a visitor’s center for North Carolina Parks and Recreation and another for Raleigh Parks and Recreation. We caught up with her to find out how a University of Kentucky graduate found her way to Raleigh. How did you find Frank? “I had just heard really great things about the whole Triangle area, the community of Frank Harmon devotes his architectural lectures to environmen- architects, and the good work that’s going tal issues, along with addressing space and color considerations. on in the area, and it’s definitely true. … A professor of mine had a connection in Chapel Hill. … He gave me a list of 10 “The average building materials that we use come from architects, and Frank was on that list.” thousands of miles away. There’s a saying in the organic food world, ‘Eat what you can see,’ in other words what grows What do you like best about working around you. I say, ‘Build with what you can see.’ ” with him? Some of Harmon’s favorite local materials include Southern “My favorite thing is the atmosphere that yellow pine, 5V tin for roofs, North Carolina blue stone, and he creates and that he nurtures here. It’s Atlantic white cedar, which grows on the North Carolina coast. very much a teaching environment, but at He has also incorporated geothermal heating and cisterns that the same time it’s very serious and we’re collect rainwater for irrigation and plumbing into his designs. all given a great deal of responsibility.” For the newly completed Marguerite Kent Repass Ocean Conservation Center, a teaching facility for Duke How has he changed your perception University’s Marine Lab in Beaufort, Harmon incorporated of nature? older benches from a lab on the Duke campus into the “I really believe that everybody has the design. “Not only did they save $80,000, but they didn’t fill same desire to be in nature and to appre- up a landfill,” says Harmon. ciate it. I truly believe that. I think it’s just a natural thing but not all the time are Other projects his firm is working on include transforming those feelings fulfilled or even brought to a 1950s textile mill in Star into an arts and crafts incubation the surface. Frank’s work is a catalyst for center, designing the Visitor’s Education Center for the North that. … I really enjoy seeing that there’s Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill, and designing a very little separation between Frank’s love new education building for the First Presbyterian Church in for nature and for architecture. That has PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRYAN REGAN downtown Raleigh and creating a master plan for the existing been very inspiring to me.” building. According to Harmon, the latter will be the first green church in the Capital City. “I’m a big believer in doing what comes naturally,” he says. “The destruction of our landscape, I think, is unconscionable because that’s actually the most precious gift that we give to our children.” It’s certainly a gift he’s enjoyed throughout his life. 122 North Carolina Signature September/October 2007
  5. 5. Eco Smart: frank harmon a concrete example Frank and Judy Harmon only use their air conditioner in July and August. “We use the trees to cool our house,” says Frank of the couple’s pink 1,800-square-foot house that sits a block off of Hillsborough Street. “We have super-thick insulation in the roof, and all the windows are carefully placed so that they don’t get direct sun or if they do get direct sun it’s filtered through leaves.” Built of concrete and steel, the Harmon’s house has a 1,000-square-foot footprint, and was built above ground so as not to disturb any roots. “I think we only cut one pretty good-size root,” says Judy. “We didn’t have to chop down any trees. … We didn’t have to do any grading.” “Our house is thin [20 feet], and it has windows on both sides so every room can be cross-ventilated,” says Frank as he points out the corner windows which make the space feel larger. In the kitchen, North Carolina blue stone from Denton serves as the countertops. Their one-third-acre lot features a lush garden with a winding pathway of Chapel Hill gravel leading to a lap pool. A permanent ladder offers access to the flat roof, which collects rainwater for irrigation. “It’s important to me that it’s small,” says Frank of his house, “but it has very LoriTate high quality.” — Frank Harmon’s thin home — it’s only 20 feet wide ARCHITECT’S STUDIO AN — allows for more efficient cross-ventilation. Cubicles are forbidden at Frank Harmon Architect. Instead everyone sits at a big table while paper lanterns hang from the exposed CLASS PRARIE ceiling. Depending on who’s in the office you might ON THE hear Billie Holiday or electronic music from Underworld oozing from an iMac. The open “This is our most the toilets, and the mulch conference room is peppered with sketches, and sustainable building so that serves as a walkway to the accent walls of the space are painted a bright far,” says Frank Harmon the building was ground kelly green. as we walk into the up from scrap pieces of “About 15 years ago, I really had this big open-air classroom at wood left over from the change in the way I thought about myself and my Prairie Ridge Eco Life building process. office, and that’s when I changed it to this big Station for Wildlife & Constructed of Atlantic open space where we all sit around a table,” says Learning, which was white cedar and southern Harmon, who was inspired by the set up in his established by the North yellow pine, the building architectural design studio class at NCSU. “I Carolina Museum of features a roof made of thought to myself why don’t I organize my office Natural Sciences as an Galvalume, a material like this? You know — a big studio and everybody outreach facility. known for its durability. in that studio could have their own project, and I With a prairie on one “The idea here is to do could be like the critic. I wouldn’t have to do side and a forest on the things that are really everything and design everything.” other, the classroom is entertaining, and then The revamp seems to have worked as the space powered by photovoltaic children will also sort of exudes a casual yet professional ambience. “The panels that collect the sun’s intuitively realize that this PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRYAN REGAN environment is very much about equality with an energy and turn it into is a good thing to do. This understanding of hierarchy,” says intern electricity. A large south- is a building that doesn’t architect/designer Erin Sterling. “Everybody facing overhang keeps the use fossil fuels to cool itself. Lori Tate has respect for one another.” building warm in the winter It uses the natural coolants — and cool in the summer, as of the earth,” says Harmon. there is no air conditioning. “The idea is to put children Rainwater collected in a back in touch with nature in Lori Tate cistern is used for flushing a safe way.” — 124 North Carolina Signature September/October 2007
  6. 6. POWER LINES NO VISIBLE lydia aydlett NO SACRIFICE WITH SOLAR In western North Carolina, a professor’s home goes totally off the grid and proves that you don’t need electricity to create warmth. Lisa M. Dellwo Written by T ies provide electricity to operate lights, a stereo, a computer, ucked into a sunny two televisions, a dishwasher, and a clothes washer. hillside above Sylva, Additional solar panels heat water for household use and Lydia Aydlett’s home is provide a boost to the propane burner that provides the hot a model of charm and water for the radiant floor heating. local craftsmanship. The front door, of wormy chestnut left over from her builder’s Aydlett, an assistant professor of psychology at nearby shed, is punctuated Western Carolina University, doesn’t want anyone to think with seeded glass win- that she’s living a life of self-denial. Like many academics, dows that make the 2003 structure seem like it’s been there a she listens to National Public Radio in the morning and lot longer. while preparing dinner, and in the evening, she might watch Pass through the entry into an area where the living room a medical drama on the television in her second-floor bed- melds into the dining room and kitchen, and you’ll see a room. The house’s passive solar design — a southern orienta- shipshape space with storage niches and display spaces tion with large overhangs that block the summer’s worst heat tucked under a stairway for which local blacksmith David from reaching her etched cement downstairs floor — means Brewin created fanciful banisters of leaves and trailing vines. that she only has to turn on the heat at night. Brewin’s work also turns up in the pot rack overhanging the “Probably the only thing you’d have in a typical home that kitchen and in the brackets for the overhead beams hewn of I don’t have is a clothes dryer,” she says. She hangs laundry oak from Aydlett’s surrounding acreage. outside in sunny weather and on a clothesline in her upstairs It’s not until you walk to the rear of the house, though, sleeping porch in the winter. PHOTOGRAPHY BY TIM BARNWELL that you discover what makes it truly unique: an array of Aydlett’s interest in living off the grid began in the 1970s, solar photovoltaic panels that supplies every bit of the elec- when she came to WCU for a master’s degree in psychology. tricity Aydlett requires. No transmission wires connect the “I was newly divorced and a single parent, very interested in 1600-square-foot house to a power company. Instead, 18 alternative energy and alternative lifestyle,” she says. “That was At her solar-powered home bright-blue panels, 12 of which track the sun’s east-west the era for that kind of thing.” She bought a farmhouse on 25 in Cullowhee, Lydia Aydlett is progress every day, gather energy from the sun and transmit acres, and learned all she could about solar power. “It seemed creating a model for clean energy. it to a bank of batteries in a utility room nearby. The batter- like magic, that you could make electricity out of sunshine.” www.ncsignature.com 127 126 North Carolina Signature September/October 2007
  7. 7. Eco Smart: lydia aydlett 1. Lydia Aydlett’s solar home is not without modern conveniences, like a microwave and a dishwasher in the kitchen. 2. The photovoltaic array captures solar energy and powers the entire house. 3. Aydlett’s screened sleeping porch upstairs eliminates the need for air conditioning. 1 2 4. Large windows bring in 3 4 natural light. Above: A bank of brilliant red batteries stores all the energy harnessed by the solar panels. The small footprint of the house and its passive solar features In 1984, Aydlett moved to Chapel Hill to pursue a Ph.D., helped to constrain the size (and expense) of the photovoltaic selling the farmhouse and three acres. On the remaining 22 array. She also practices conservation by using compact fluores- acres, she built a 300-square-foot solar-powered cabin, with help cent light bulbs and by connecting power strips to appliances from women friends, for weekend living. In 1995, while work- like the televisions and computer that normally draw power ing as a pediatric psychiatrist for the Lincoln Community even when they’re turned off. Health Center in Durham, she moved to a small passive-solar Aydlett’s children are grown now, with children of their own, house in Arcadia, a passive-solar community in Carrboro. and she shares her home with shelter dogs Suki and Penny. At When Western Carolina University offered her a job in 2000, Thanksgiving, her family all gathers for dinner. She’ll prepare the Aydlett decided the time was right to pull the plug. While she traditional turkey dinner in her propane range. If the weather is lived in the weekend cabin, she and builder Tom West designed PHOTOGRAPHY BY TIM BARNWELL raw, she might light the wood stove. If it’s bright, the passive a home influenced by Raleigh architect Sarah Susanka’s “Not-So- solar features will work so well that she has to open a win- Big” series of books. “It’s fascinating to me to think about how dow or two. And if anyone wants to run the dishwasher, to construct an environment that meets your needs but in which she’ll check a meter to ensure that the batteries are storing the parameters are constrained, like in a sailboat,” she says. sufficient voltage. West had to learn a lot about solar power in the process. Otherwise, it’s a typical family gathering. “I’m not suffering “He’s a quick study,” she says. “He was able to get technical here,” she wants people to know. “I’m very comfortable here.” advice from solar distributors who were not here on site.” 128 North Carolina Signature September/October 2007
  8. 8. Eco Smart: Eco Smart: lisa m dellwo lisa m dellwo Going Solar The story of how one family let the sunshine in … early adopters, we are much more focused on envi- cient in energy efficiency, home in New York state, but The day we had the solar It took 12 years to get to changed. The price of solar and at current energy rates, paying a premium for ronmental issues in recent and builders were unenthu- we will explore it, along with panels installed was the first that day two years ago PV had dropped modestly, we would expect to recoup technology that we hope years. siastic about incorporating geothermal and wind power, and only time I’ve ever been when we first flipped the and North Carolina had our investment in 17 years. will become more afford- As professionals who green features. So when a as a way to reduce our car- on our roof. switch of our Sunny Boy introduced net metering, On days when we generate able. At the end of the write and speak about envi- house with solar panels bon footprint there, too. “They’re beautiful, aren’t inverter and began generat- which allows customers to more than we can use — day, it’s more about values ronment and energy, we are came on the market — ours they?” said Dave Hollister, ing our own power. The first sell surplus power back to generally sunny days in the Lisa M. Dellwo — than money. trying in this one way to — she grabbed it. The solar founder of Asheville-based time we got an estimate for the utilities, obviating the spring and fall when we’re has recently moved from her My husband, Bill inspire others to follow our feature was just as much of Sundance Power Systems, photovoltaics, we could need for the expensive and not using air conditioning — partially solar-powered home Schlesinger, is an environ- lead, so that generating a selling point as our beauti- the company that installed have bought two well- space-consuming batteries. the meter runs backwards in Durham to New York's mental scientist who solar energy will become as ful stone fireplace, she told our 2.5-kilowatt array. equipped cars for the same In 2005, Sundance installed and our surplus power is Hudson Valley, where she addresses the causes and mainstream as having run- us. They were beautiful: amount of money, but we a system on our Durham returned to Duke Energy. and her husband will be effects of climate change in ning water. We didn’t intend to leave glistening royal blue slabs would have had to park roof that, on average, We are also paid for our exploring ways of greening public forums, emphasizing We are still way too far our house so soon after of glass with Mondrian-like one of them on the street reduces our power bills by production of alternative their new home. the need for us to adopt from that goal. Our friend installing the solar panels, grids across the surface. because of the garage about 30 percent. Not bad energy through the North conservation measures and Molly Tamarkin recently but we are happy to leave But Dave was talking about space needed for the for a sprawling contempo- Carolina GreenPower pro- energy technologies that began looking for a house them as a legacy for our another kind of beauty, too: batteries. rary house built in 1964 gram. will reduce our dependence with solar features. New home’s future owners. Solar the simple beauty of har- when energy was cheap. This is no money-making on fossil fuels. And my writ- houses she looked at were energy may not make as vesting the sun’s energy to VALUES OVER MONEY Our system cost about operation, though, and it’s ing projects have become filled with luxuries but defi- much sense in our new power our lives. Ten years later, a lot had the same as a Toyota Prius, not meant to be. Like all www.ncsignature.com 131 130 North Carolina Signature September/October 2007
  9. 9. FUTURE HOUSE OF THE enertia PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF ENERTIA Using native Southern yellow pine, Enertia homes heat and cool themselves, basing temperature regulation on a familiar model: the earth. Kathleen M. Reilly Written by www.ncsignature.com 133
  10. 10. Eco Smart: Eco Smart: ATMOSPHERIC HOMES enertia enertia F basement, and if you’ve ever been in a cave, you know it’s “Our house isn’t just about using energy-efficient appli- our years ago, Merry Kay and Joe always cold,” says Farrington. “The house uses natural ances,” Merry Kay explains. “We’re just not even using Farrington moved into a very special “As a teenager, I worked in the tobacco barns in convection currents to draw that cool air up and circulate heating or cooling appliances at all.” home in Durham. Their home has no Greensboro,” he says. “Those barns stayed warm in the it through the walls. Hot air rises up through the roof. If Wake Forest-based Enertia, a manufacturer of beautiful heating or cooling system, and yet they winter and cool in the summer.” Part of the reason, he you’re somebody who likes your home at 65 degrees and it’s and affordable “geo-thermal” homes, built this home in an stay comfortable all year round. No decided, was the pine lumber used to build the barns. Pine, a Carolina summer, you won’t get that. But when it cools “ultra-green” style. heating bills, no cooling bills — and no he explains, has resin in it — that sticky yellow sap that runs down at night, it lowers the temperature in the house during The company began as the brainchild of Michael Sykes. contribution to the greenhouse effect. under the bark — making pine wood more heat-absorbent. “I’m an engineer,” Sykes So Sykes built his homes with explains. “I put myself through pine, and with a double-wall school building houses. structure that acts as the home’s Anybody who builds stuff own “atmosphere,” keeping the always tries to think of a better heated or cooled air inside. The way to do it — more efficient, homes absorb the heat of the less expensive.” sun during the day, and then Back in the ’80s, Sykes began release that back into the home, hearing early rumblings about warming it without any electri- the greenhouse effect, and he cal heating appliances. paid attention. “The reason But does it really work? earth stays so warm is because Absolutely, say the Farringtons. it has an atmosphere around it, “In the winter, the logs radiate but if you look at a picture the sun’s heat into the home, of earth from space, the plus we have radiant floor heat- atmosphere is so small, you ing,” Farrington explains. can hardly see it. It looks as “Those are tubes that run under- thin as the shell on an egg.” neath the floor. They have water Sykes then looked at his in them, and the water circulates work. “I thought, ‘why don’t up to solar panels on the roof. PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF ENERTIA PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF ENERTIA I build a house that has a little The sun heats the water, then atmosphere around it?’ ” He the water runs through the set about trying to figure out tubing so your floors are always a way to apply his idea, and his warm.” inspiration included classic What about the hot North North Carolina elements. Carolina summers? “We have a The 4,586-square-foot “Southern Pines” model features soaring ceilings and a balcony loft. Rooftop photovoltaics denote the house “Zero Energy,” meaning it produces more power than it requires. TOP: Sunlight streams in on an Enertia sunporch. www.ncsignature.com 135 134 September/October 2007
  11. 11. Eco Smart: HOUSE SMART enertia By building an Enertia home, homeowners are making a the day to about 75 degrees — cooler if the night tempera- giant step toward decreasing pollution. “It’s not cars that are tures are cooler.” really the biggest polluters of the earth; it’s houses,” Sykes says. “We use far more fossil fuel in heating houses and building materials than cars put out. Cars just get more Once Sykes saw the potential for his home, he realized he press. If you want to buy a fuel-efficient car, that’s fine, but could help even more by offering the home as a kit. “We if you really want to make a big difference, it’s how you were doing three or four houses a year, but by creating the build your house that really counts.” home as a kit, we can make up to 20 houses a year,” he says. Sykes is particularly proud that Enertia is a North “We ship them all over the country to 25 states.” Carolina invention. “The whole concept was created in The kit is “almost like a Lego set,” Sykes explains. The North Carolina, developed in North Carolina, and uses home is built as timber blocks, carefully numbered, and then Southern yellow pine,” he says. “Hey, the other North sent to the location where a contractor has already built a Carolina invention, the airplane, really took off. I hope foundation. The home is assembled on the spot; then the this will, too.” interior is finished. Total time? About six to eight weeks. NEW DIRECTIONS DURHAM IN Greenfire Development ground temperatures, a demonstrates reuse at its cistern collects rainwater to finest by transforming old flush in low-flow toilets, bike buildings in downtown racks and showers encour- Durham into sustainable and age energy conservation (as SANCTUARY THE luxurious spaces. do solar water heaters), and green built Greenfire has two green the company hopes to recy- On Lake Wylie near Charlotte, residents of an projects underway — con- cle 75 percent of the con- exclusive lakefront community, called The Sanctuary, verting the Hill Building (for- struction waste. find it’s good to be green. merly the Sun Trust building) Two other projects incor- Thanks to its careful attention to wildlife protection, into a boutique hotel and porate green aspects: the spa, and turning Rogers Baldwin Lofts and Durham water quality, and preservation of native flora and fauna, PHOTOGRAPHY BY (TOP) COURTESY OF ENERTIA; (BOTTOM) COURTESY OF THE SANCTUARY Alley, three buildings includ- Kress, which includes and for employing green building practices, the home ing a former fire station and bamboo flooring (a rapidly community was the world’s first to receive a Three pharmacy, into mixed-use renewable resource), car- Diamond Designation from Audubon International, an buildings. Rogers Alley’s first peting from recycled fibers, environmental education organization devoted to the restaurant tenant, Dos recycled dry wall, and a Perros, will be an upscale high-efficiency heat pump. protection of land, water, wildlife, and natural resources. authentic Mexican restau- The first owner moved into Residents extend the green approach by creating rant slated to open in early Durham Kress in mid-June, natural backyards, complete with environmentally 2008, and the Hill building and more residents will friendly butterfly, hummingbird, and bluebird gar- will open in 2009. be attracted by the ritzy dens, all with the help of an on-site natural resource These two projects seek surroundings. manager. Twenty miles of nature trails surrounding Leadership in Energy and By combining urban Environmental Design renewal with green prac- the property and a seven-mile undisturbed shoreline (LEED) certification for a tices, Greenfire enriches are the perfect setting to appreciate the importance of variety of green features: downtown Durham with — Elizabeth Hudson ecological conservation. cool roofs reflect heat, a sustainable class. Heather Hans geothermal standing — column well utilizes under- For information on homesites, contact The Sanctuary 11235 Wildlife Road, Charlotte, N.C. 28278 For information visit www.greenfiredevelopment.com (877) 295-0950 www.ncsignature.com 137
  12. 12. Eco Smart: green built Among one of the “greenest” hotels in North America, Proximity uses 100 solar roof panels (inset) and an energy-producing elevator, the first of its kind in the U.S. proximity SKETCHES COURTESY OF PORXIMITYHOTEL; PHOTOGRAPHY BY NORTH CAROLINA SIGNATURE/LINDSAY EMEIGH hotel Emily Gallimore Written by out, but inside, Quaintance’s environmental measures — like Sustainable design doesn’t have to mean rustic the regenerative drive elevator (a first in North America) and accommodations and earth-toned décor — consider the energy-efficient filtration system — go unnoticed. The Greensboro’s Proximity Hotel. Set to open in September, high ceilings, enormous windows, and classic-modern décor, the outfit is equal parts luxury and green living, built accord- along with a bistro, art display and fitness studio, have a high- ing to federal standards set by the Leadership in Energy and fashion appeal; practicality seems to be an afterthought, but Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system. according to Quaintance, the hotel’s environment-friendly Sacrificing neither style nor sustainability, hotel designer design and operation will use 40 percent less energy and 35 Dennis Quaintance brings harmony to the structure by draw- percent less water than a hotel of comparable capacity. ing on a sense of local history, as he did with the reincarna- Built from recycled gypsum, concrete, and sheetrock, tion of the O. Henry Hotel in 1998. Named after among other materials, the building will eventually do double Greensboro’s historic Proximity Manufacturing Cotton Mill, duty, functioning both as a hotel and a sustainable practices the hotel’s appearance recalls the industrial icon with a ware- education center that will offer tours and outreach programs. house-inspired architecture and loft-style lobbies. Proximity Hotel is situated just a block away from its sister Proximity Hotel hotel, the O. Henry, and is located on Green Valley Road, in 704 Green Valley Road, Greensboro, N.C. 27408 the center of a bustling commercial district. Proximity’s (336) 379-8200, wwwproximityhotel.com rooftop solar panels cause the eight-story structure to stand 138 North Carolina Signature September/October 2007
  13. 13. ENVIRONMENT EYE TOWARD THE AN ligon flynn 1. Ligon Flynn’s office incorporates an environmental aesthetic by bringing the outside in. 2. Soaring ceilings and exposed spaces promote a feeling of openess. 3. A living courtyard sets the stage for green design. 1 2 PHOTOGRAPHY (TOP LEFT) COURTESY OF LIGON FLYNN; (TOP RIGHT AND BOTTOM) JERRY MARKATOS 3 Integrating the outside with the inside is in architect Ligon Flynn’s nature. Marimar McNaughton Written by www.ncsignature.com 141
  14. 14. Eco Smart: SENSITIVE LANDSCAPING ligon flynn YIN AND YANG O LIVING SPACES ut of the mar- itime forest, the Flynn trademarked his idiom by designing homes embed- sun shines on a ded into the natural fabric of the landscape — Hewlett’s corner of a low Creek, Howe’s Creek, Pages Creek, and Figure Eight Island. white wall — it’s Many of these locations are Wilmington’s best-kept secrets. an unexpected For a surgeon and his family, for example, Flynn created a structure here in secluded year-round retreat on five acres. Down a winding this vine-draped thicket and an architectural reminder that lane, horses graze on wooded pasture until a circular drive “someone lives here.” announces the understated entrance to the house. Defining The fusion of architecture and nature is the bedrock of the groomed landscape, a low masonry wall with a signature Ligon Flynn’s signature style. The “dean” of Wilmington porthole leads the eye past sculpted gardens and into a lush architecture built his practice in the early 1970s and lawn where the home’s open great room, with floor-to-ceil- anchored many of the Lower Cape Fear region’s most ing windows, embraces the southernmost point of Hewlett’s stunning contemporary homes on this simple principle: Creek, welcoming 180 degree views of the waterway. “No building is complete for human habitation without a garden.” Flynn ushered a new architecture for historic Wilmington, Near Middle Sound, a bank of mailboxes marks the mentored by Henry Kamphoefner, Dean of North Carolina entrance to a well-worn dirt lane that forks like spokes on a State University’s School of Design, a man who preached compass ending on a 15-acre enclave. A high bluff overlooks modernism to his disciples. Kamphoefner encouraged Flynn the Intracoastal Waterway toward Figure Eight Island, and a to embrace the great outdoors, allow open floor plans to pair of slender, two-story country homes, set apart like unfold behind stiff exteriors, and to punctuate spaces with bookends, bridges the beginning and the ending of the 20th expanses of windows. A tenet? An outdoor room is best century. The first is a vintage weatherboard relic, moved to nourished by lush gardens that balance the massing of the this location by the owner, who commissioned Flynn to house on its site. design a modern replica, linked each to the other with a slate-covered Charleston-style courtyard, enclosed by wrought iron gates, embellished with iron railings on win- dowed balconies, cast iron planters filled with vermillion Flynn’s office, a former livery stable on Second Street in geraniums, and a lap pool surrounded by slate benches and Wilmington, draws architects, designers, and green-building low masonry walls. The new home honors the image of the enthusiasts into its cobbled brick courtyard. Here, the sun older structure, creating a pair of residences for extended passes overhead, casting beams of light into a tree-lined members of the same family. opening. Breezes drift through the space. The sound of mov- Flynn’s NCSU classmate and colleague, David Erwin, ing water trickles from a far-off fountain into the shallow landscaped both of these homes. Flynn and Erwin also pool of a terraced garden, a pleasing sound of nature for blended their yin and yang talents to cultivate the setting everyone who works and visits here. Like so many of Flynn’s and create a seaside home for North Carolina’s artist and architectural creations, it’s as though this space is a living, arbiter of country living, Bob Timberlake. In a live oak breathing organism. PHOTOGRAPHY BY JERRY MARKATOS grove, steeped by marshland, two architectural structures are “We design the out-of-doors for habitation the same as we linked with winding footpaths and native plants in a tapes- do indoors,” Flynn says. try of green-on-green texture. Only an iron gate and the “We design buildings around the natural or native foliage barest glimpse of a low tabby wall rendered from local oys- that exists on this coast. The greatest tree we have here is the ter, clam, and conch shells appear out of the underbrush, live oak. The north end of Figure Eight Island is covered in an architectural reminder that Ligon Flynn was here. live oaks. We have put houses in and never cut one,” he says. 142 North Carolina Signature September/October 2007
  15. 15. RIVER DUNES river dunes Maintaining a natural shoreline is one proactive step developers are taking to protect fish estuaries. PHOTOGRAPHY BY SCOTT TAYLOR PHOTOGRAPHY BY SCOTT TAYLOR Just outside of Oriental, a new home community initiates a forward-thinking approach to coastal development. Kathy Grant Westbrook Written by www.ncsignature.com 145 144 North Carolina Signature September/October 2007
  16. 16. Eco Smart: river dunes Future homeowners appreciate the preservation of River Dunes’ natural setting. COASTAL GREEN SPACE I t isn’t surprising that a new residential community is being developed on the Intracoastal Waterway, just outside the small town of Oriental in coastal Pamlico County. (Show me a body of water, and I’ll show you lots of people who want to live on it.) What is surpris- ing is that it isn’t being overdeveloped. Instead of cramming as many houses as possible on every square inch of the property, as is so often the case with waterfront real estate, the developers of River Dunes have chosen to create a relatively low-density development. groups to the Corps of Engineers — to attend. And that’s just one of many steps they’ve taken in the Approximately 40 participants showed up, with a follow-up name of environmental stewardship. meeting drawing 57. Mitchell and his partners came away from those meetings convinced that River Dunes could be a profitable, as well as an environmentally responsible, business venture. They com- River Dunes occupies 1,341 acres overlooking the Neuse mitted to preserving lots of green space within the develop- River as it empties into Pamlico Sound. Approximately a half ment, with plans calling for about 630 homes — approxi- dozen creeks are located on the property, along with almost mately half of what the property could actually accommo- 400 acres of wetlands. “We realized this was going to be a very date. Construction has begun on more than a dozen homes, sensitive piece to develop,” says Ed Mitchell, president of and by the time you read this, the first residents are expected River Dunes Corporation. Just how sensitive became clear to have moved in. Among the first homes going up is the when Mitchell discovered that 26 different local, state and fed- 10th Anniversary Idea House for Coastal Living magazine. It eral authorities would be involved in the permitting process. will be open for tours in the fall. As Mitchell saw it, he had two choices. He says, “You can Other environmentally friendly measures being taken at certainly try to work together and use that wealth of knowl- edge that they [the regulatory agencies] have or you can take River Dunes include: using river rocks or sand, as opposed to it strictly from an engineering approach and try to meet the pavement, on parking lots and trails, and encouraging residents minimums and look at it simply from a business perspec- to use electric carts instead of cars for traveling within the com- tive.” Mitchell and his partners chose the former. munity. Additionally, a permanent conservation easement pro- PHOTOGRAPHY BY SCOTT TAYLOR In a move that would have been unthinkable to most tects 238 acres that are particularly environmentally sensitive. developers, Mitchell organized a meeting and encouraged But here’s the real kicker: this is a boating community representatives from all of the various agencies — ranging (there’s nary a golf course in sight), yet residents are not from the local planning board to environmental advocacy allowed to have private boat docks, nor was a marina built on 146 North Carolina Signature September/October 2007

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