Tag Archives: bertram king

J. Bertram King

I wanted to pause long enough to note Bert King’s recent passing and reflect on the legacy he has left us fans here in Asheville. Here is some information and an interview by
Triangle Modernist Houses. And here is my own facebook fan page documenting what I know of his designs here in Asheville.

Please take a moment to know his work, treasure his constructions and honor him by stewarding great care of the rich layer of architecture he has left us with.

Bert King Strikes Again

When Randy Siegel went in search of a new home in Asheville he was looking for clean architecture, an open floor plan and long range mountain views.  Mid-century architect, J. Bertram King, provided him that opportunity with this 3200 sq/ft house that sits in the hills above the Asheville Country Club.  The house was originally constructed in 1959 and has 4 bedrooms and 3 1/2 bathrooms.  He was fortunate in finding the home in mostly original condition with the exception of some colonial style light fixtures he quickly replaced.  Still in place were the original asian style sliding screens from the entry to the living space, the outdoor courtyard off the dining room and the floating concrete fireplace hearth.

Year round the house has views of the Grove Park Inn and then expands to included downtown Asheville in the winter.  He replaced the deteriorating back view patio with concrete slabs that reflect a mid-century aesthetic.  He then hired a concrete artist to build tables and add a fountain to a previously blank wall.  The outdoor space provided a contemporary setting for his 50th birthday party guests who enjoyed music from a live band that flowed both indoors and out.

The crisp black and white kitchen serves as an intimate eating area for two, a gathering place for entertaining guests and provides several functioning work spaces all while enjoying a panoramic view of the mountains from a wrap around row of windows.

The light and open interior of the home provides a great backdrop for Randy’s art and furniture collection.  He has collected an eclectic mix of American and European antiques and Outsider art. The art is everywhere.  Pieces range from paintings to sculpture.  The sculpture ranges from soft media to metal.  There are stories behind a lot of the pieces, most of which are figurative or portraiture in some form or fashion.  Added in are some folk art furniture pieces, some sizable, like an antique African-American chest-on-chest in his office that came from a barbershop in Gainesville, Ga.

The challenge, of course, is to bring the art collection together without cluttering up the aesthetics of the clean, contemporary architecture.  Siegel goes right up to the line on that point, but seldom crosses it.  “I’m interested in seeing how all these elements can work together,” he said. He often does so with a sense of play.

Play, along with work and rest, is a key word in Randy’s home which he likes to share with his close friends and his dog, Lucy.

To see more of Bertram King’s work go to the link provided on the right.

Article by Troy Winterrowd and ISurfAsheville.com. Photos by Troy Winterrowd

Warren Wilson College Chapel

Designed by: J. Bertram King and Charles M. Sapenfield


Built in 1964, the Warren Wilson Presbyterian Church and College Chapel was made possible by a matching gift from an anonymous donation and contributions from friends of the college, church members and alumni.  Local materials were used as much as possible.  Stone was hauled from nearby Bee Tree Valley by student work crews and the walnut wood for the cross in the chancel came from the college forest.  The cross was designed and made by Hardy Davidson, a neighbor and Farm School alumnus.  The design of the structure points upward and the many triangles are used to represent the trinity.  In 1968 the North Carolina Institute of Architects gave J. Bertram King Architects an honorary award for the design.


Pack Memorial Library

img_487967 Haywood St., Downtown

Designed by: J. Bertram King

Dedicated: November 18th, 1978

“Designing a new library is a lot like designing a new supermarket.   You need to display the merchandise attractively, sensibly and easily accessible to the customer.  You also need to get enough light on the subject.”  These were some of the comments by Asheville architect Bertram King when designing the Pack Memorial Library in the 1970’s.  Planning for the new library started in 1966 when the library trustees put together a program for the new library.  The opening took place on Nov. 20, 1978.  The building cost approx. $1,741,000 to build and was paid for by Buncombe county voters approving a special bond. 



Reading some of the architect’s original comments on his design you can start to understand the construction.  Along with ease of function, King, was considerate to use some basic green design elements.  He took advantage of the sloping site to incorporate sunken courtyards that allow for natural light into the lower levels.  The 1970’s decade produced many sealed buildings that focused on using air conditioning and the latest in mechanical systems.  However, as King states, “We have reverted to an older, less expensive system with the new library building.  It’s called opening the window”.  Between the natural ventilation and insulated glass there was an effort made to lower energy use.  a944-8-copy3

 When standing at the corner of the building one can appreciate how the building unfolds.  It is like a stage set for browsing and reading books.  The glass, angles and setbacks of this modern design allow you to see the function throughout and the relationship from inside to outside.  The building has a simple elegance and is comfortable in proportion and scale.  Ignoring some issues in urban context and function similar to many modern buildings of the era, the thoughtfulness behind King’s design as with many of his buildings comes through. img_48811

See Bertram King on the right to find out more about his Asheville designs.  

(text by Troy Winterrowd, photos courtesy of Troy and Pack Library)