Category Archives: Architects

Happy Birthday | Frank Lloyd Wright

In honor of one of our most celebrated architects I thought it would worthwhile to re-share this fascinating interview of the man himself. He would have been 150 years today. Happy Birthday!

1953 Frank Lloyd Wright interview by Mike Wallace | I scoured the internet for something of interest to watch last night. It is not always very fruitful, but this time I found something “fantastic” — at least from my viewpoint. If you’ve never seen this before I’m happy to share this treasure with you today. His belief in individualism and his views on the lack of intellectualism and “mobocracy” hit home today. I won’t say more, but simply encourage you to spend 50 minutes to watch this interview with a true visionary who is, obviously, very comfortable in his own skin. Enjoy the segment here . Cheers!

Koolhaus in NYC

Enjoy this brief video of Rem Koolhaus discussing one of his thoughtful projects in New York. Cheers!

Congrats to Asheville’s Samsel Architects

samsel-2016-aia-nc-firm-awardAIA North Carolina’s 2016 Firm of the Year | We want to congratulate all our friends at Samsel Architects for winning Firm of the Year this year from AIA North Carolina. Thanks for the design integrity you bring to the mountains and our community. Cheers from us!

AIA Design Award Entries

Hi Folks! You can now see all the entries to WNC’s AIA Design Awards this year. Go here for the video overview.Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 1.35.46 PMThe outdoor awards is this upcoming Thursday evening and is $25 for General Admission which includes beer, wine and catering by Corner Kitchen. The 30 minute awards portion will be presented via a cool multi-media projection. Come and enjoy this outdoor ceremony at the City County Plaza. For tickets and information go here. Come and join us Modern Mixer crowd. Cheers!Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 6.15.03 AM

Architect Mark Allison

kArticle from February 2009 | Architect Mark Allison is a native of Asheville. He left Asheville after high school to study at UNC Charlotte. He followed that with studies in Denmark and then finished with his degree from the Pratt Institute. Eventually, he moved to Atlanta where he spent several years working for the Epsten Group. The Epsten Group was one of the first design groups in Atlanta practicing sustainable principles and LEED certifications with their projects. In 1997 he returned to Asheville where he worked for both PBC&L Architects and Samsel Architects. One year ago, after completing a home for him 1chand his family, he opened his own design office.

Mark’s office is in his new home, which is located in one of my favorite mid-century neighborhoods off of Town Mountain Rd. The home was constructed on a steep slope opposite many 1960’s contemporary homes. While creating a 3300 sqft modern home for today his design is sensitive to the context of his neighbors all while balancing with the steep slope of his 1.5 acre site.8ch

Mark’s use of sustainable materials was evident through much of his home along with incorporating some passive solar exposure. The steep slope of the site allowed the incorporation of a deep basement into the foundation. Mark made use of a pre-cast concrete system to allow for larger openings and more a natural light. The basement does not feel like a basement.intro-home

One of the mechanical items I knew little about was the Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV). Mark tried to explain it to me, but it went in one ear and out the other while admiring the house. Doing an online search I found the dictionary explanation in unreadable technical jargon. Still not getting it I found this video that will helped. Take a moment to watch.

Previous to visiting Mark’s office and home I looked at his website. I noticed two projects I wanted to discuss with him.

One of the two projects is a concept for a commercial building along Merrimon Ave. Mark has a great deal of experience developing commercial projects. In Mark’s words, “This building for a retail or office tenant creates a pedestrian oasis against heavy automobile traffic on Merrimon Avenue. A south-facing courtyard shielded from the street by an armature of precast concrete and glass block wall creates a multifunction courtyard. One passes from here to an inner court between an existing building and the new. The design reinforces the 1street-final-copyemerging pedestrian character of this new urban edge. The challenge was to create an economical, energy efficient shell that is true to its concept, affords flexibility to its future tenants.” I could immediately recognize and appreciate the attempts Mark was making to address both the automobile and the pedestrian. The simplicity, scale and continuous portion of the architectural marquee creates a billboard to help identify it from an automobile. At the same time the way the pedestrian level falls back becomes welcoming to those on foot. For me they are simple, clean gestures that get the job done while addressing issues that many new buildings along Merrimon don’t.1jh-copy

The other project I noticed is a home he is creating for a family in Asheville.  He is designing a 1500q/ft., sustainable house that will house 3 generations under one roof. The house utilizes passive solar design principles and is tailored to its gently sloping site.  Shared terraces and courtyards join both the public and private wings. I appreciated what he and his clients were working to achieve and believe that they were creating something we will see more of in the future which is a smaller home with the flexibility to house more generations, accommodate a professional office all while working to be energy efficient.0815-plan-sd-copy1

Looking at Mark’s projects you notice that he works closely in blending the program of each project with the context of the specific site. He works back and forth with all the different issues involved in designing a building until there is a natural balance of all the pieces while always including his individual, creative vision as part of the process and result.

(text by Troy Winterrowd, Mark’s house photos by John Fletcher of the Citizen Times)

Architect Spotlight

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 5.38.31 AMGiuseppe Terragni {1904-1943} While researching for various talks on Modernism at Black Mountain College we became familiar with this Italian architect Giuseppe Terragni. He was an Italian architect who worked primarily under the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini and pioneered the Italian modern movement under the rubric of Rationalism. His most famous work is the Casa del Fascio built in Como, northern Italy, which was begun in 1932 and completed in 1936; it was built in accordance with the International Style of architecture and frescoed by abstract artist Mario Radice. Some of his European counterparts were Le Corbusier and Marcel Breuer. We love his clean lines and compositions of shadow and light. Please find more samples of his work on our Pinterest page here. Cheers!

Sunday Morning Modern

Big0The Limitless Box | Architecturally speaking we at Modern Asheville appreciate a simple box along with many of our designer friends and clients. At a glance a rectilinear home with four walls and a flat roof may seem constrained, but can truly offer a great deal of efficiency, versatility and freedom. Having designed sets in a simple black box theater you know that you can truly do anything you want on the inside with minimal means. And for those of you who joined us at architects Maria and Jakob’s home this past spring you will call the richness and sophistication behind the simplicity of their own corten box home.Your basic ranch home offers this potential if you look past the plain exterior and existing wall configuration.  515 Residence3
Recently, husband and wife architects, Thad and Lindsey Rhoden of SPARC Design constructed a box of their very own. Seeking something different they avoided the competitiveness for a building lot in burgeoning East or West Asheville. Given their vision they could see potential in lots that seemed less desirable in the marketplace. They chose a lot hugging the edge of downtown that had been on the market for some time given the odd shape, access to sewer and rules regarding steep slope. Living Space
The constraints of the site and the project budget were variables out of which the design emerged. The overall house program was simple: create a minimal home that celebrates the main living space, winter views and prioritizes functionality over excess.Entry
Because there are condominiums directly across the street, they made the house private on the entrance side, and opened it up in the ‘rear’ of the house. The main living space is sunk a story below the road and that contributes to a private feel.515-Residence-BR
Lindsey says that they wanted the house to feel like a retreat far away, yet still close to town. “We have large patio doors and lots of windows and they are placed so that in the summer, we look out to the trees. It’s very peaceful with exception of some big windy rain storms of this past week.”
515-Residence-header
Thad states,“The house is pretty simple from the outside; it’s a box with a flat roof. We knew we had to keep the footprint small for cost purposes, and the steepness of the site means you’re not able to get a good look at the house from all sides. Our focus was more on the interior and making it feel open and inviting, and that extends outside with a large deck.”Rhoden Box
As experienced architects they knew that a large portion of the budget would go to site work to build on a steep site. As a result, they chose a lot of simple, accessible materials and then picked a few special elements including a big 84” Haiku fan (by Big Ass Fans), and a super tiny Duravit sink for the 1/2 bath.515-Residence-CS1
Thad and Lindsey, along with their new baby, are enjoying the freedom that their simple, but thoughtful, home allows them. What can first seem like constraints {a challenging site or a box} offers opportunities to focus on what is truly important and get the most out of minimal means. Cheers to you Thad and Lindsey!
{Want to see more homes like this? Visit our Pinterest page here.}

Modern Monday | From the Archives

SIX ASSOCIATES | 1095 Hendersonville RoadSix Associates Office

I find myself driving to South Asheville a lot lately. Soon we will have multiple listings in the area and just put in a contract for some buyers down in the thick of it. On Friday I had to stop and pay homage to the SIX ASSOCIATES and see the building from where many of our architectural designs came from. Six Associates began in 1942 as an Asheville architectural firm established by a group of western North Carolina architects: William Waldo Dodge, Jr., Henry Irvin Gaines, Anthony Lord, William Stewart Rogers, Erle G. Stillwell, and Charles Waddell. Their swanky, mid-century office was built in 1965 at 1095 Hendersonville Road. The building still exists today as an office complex housing a variety of businesses. SIX Associates

Asheville | Mid-Century Modern Flashback

North Asheville Branch LibraryLibrary Main

Here are some fun pics taken in 1959 capturing Asheville’s North Library designed by SIX Associates.North ASheville Library Comp

To check out more on SIX Associates visit our Pinterest page on the firm.

Welcome Home | Maria and Jakub

1798054_10204954293710401_1624038221909042793_nKelly and I are happy to have Maria and Jakub back in town and ready to start practicing architecture here again. Maria, Jakub and family have been traveling the globe for two years and recently landed back. We wanted to take the opportunity to re-introduce them to our growing Modern Asheville audience so I’m going to republish a past article I wrote with Maria a few years back. Enjoy it and cheers to them!

Defining a Modern Asheville Aesthetic – published 1/2/2014

I recently sat down with architect Maria Rusafova at her home in West Asheville. She is the first architect to respond to my formal request to define the qualities of a Western North Carolina modern design. However, the original idea and inspiration came from lengthy discussions with my friend and architect Brandon Pass. No doubt I will be discussing this with him soon.

Maria Comp

Maria and her husband have been in Asheville since 2000 following her graduating from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Her brother lived here and – well — who can resist? Asheville worked given that Maria states she is drawn to modern, site sensitive and environmentally conscious designs. She, also, loves the creative challenge of designing aroundbeka1 tight budgets. How often do we hear that? Given the rich results of her own home and the client project she just finished in 5 Points neighborhood she definitely knows how to wrangle a lot – from minimal means. As you know, that always speaks to us at Modern Asheville.

Before I delve further into my discussion with Maria, let me remind you that my goal is not to define what modern is to WNC in black and white, but to note some common influences. Most of us, without being able to describe it, can intuitively feel when a modern building works within its context and doesn’t. The natural and organic design integrity creates a harmony that is almost timeless. In opposition, I’ve seen some out-of-state builders propose stucco and aluminum homes that capture a trendy modern aesthetic that is neither contextual nor timeless.

Back to Maria.

Big6Geographically, Maria, as most architects, has rarely seen a flat site here. Most are sloped and challenging. However, the challenges can offer useful layering of functions and separations from public to private or living to utilitarian.

Materials – there are many natural materials readily available here from stone, wood and metal that reflect our local geography and help to create a continuum with the natural world.

Maria Vernac Comp

When it comes to vernacular influences Maria is infatuated with both barn structures of our rural landscape and some of the simple, narrow and upright homes of our historic neighborhoods. There is calmness in breaking down a residential structure to a simple polygon, as opposed to, a myriad of roof lines. Big3Again, less is more. There is richness and freedom in something that is easy to identify.

Culturally, people are moving here for sense of community. A home no longer defines ones life, but something that steps back to offer the freedom to live other aspects of your life in a broader sense. So, freedom from financial constraints and maintenance are important to living the life we all want here — perhaps aBig12n extra dinner at the Admiral or time to hike the Blue Ridge with friends?

For me, Maria blends her understanding of context with her European sense of simplicity and efficiency. It is an appropriate blend that allows her to capture the nuances of locality while bringing a lightness to living appropriate for today. One can see this in the plans for her own home.

B14Maria was recently chosen by one of our real estate clients to help sensibly steward the updating needed to their original Bert King home. We will explore more on that and one of her other upcoming projects soon.

In the meantime explore more of their work here. Cheers!

70’s Style Mountain Cabin

581004-2Kelly and I toured this 70’s contemporary home on Saturday with a couple of our modern clients. It has long been one of our favorites sitting just out of reach in the hills north of Grove Park Inn. The efficient home didn’t disappoint given it’s layered, experiential layout connecting private gardens, to living spaces to treetops and the Asheville city view beyond. The IMG_8074architect, William Moore, originally built the home for himself and his wife in 1973. It was then constructed for $42,000. Moore was the designer for the IMG_8073Unitarian Church on Charlotte St near the Grove Park Inn.

Southern Living Magazine originally published the design and plans of the home. Following, publication he sold plans to many others who wanted to create this simple living space for themselves. The home showcases one of his signature design features of a dominate roof. He told me, “Roofs are traditionally cheaper to maintain and replace.” So he dedicates maximum square footage to the roof in containing interior spaces.

Make Your Modern | Mark Allison’s Crescent House

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 1.45.12 PMKelly and I are always preaching that Ranch houses being a great resource here in Asheville. Fundamentally, they make a great starting point for making your modern lifestyle. Take a quick peek at architect Mark Allison’s newest project in the Beaverdam area. Mark is expanding this ranch home by 800sqft for a family in need of more space and is thoughtfully using the site to carve out a series of experiences. Click here to see more sketches on his project as shown on houzz.