Frank Harmon, FAIA, Mark McInturff, FAIA, and Ray Calabro, AIA, explained to attendees at residential architect's fourth annual Reinvention Symposium, taking place this week in Charleston, S.C., how they arrive at their modern interpretations of architecture through the lens of traditional forms and historical references.

The architects sat on a panel entitled "From Bauhaus Modern to Our House Modern." This year's three-day conference—Looking Back without Anger: Integrating Our Past with Our Future—explores the issue of style and their convergence in 21st-century architecture.

"Old buildings have a lot to teach us," Harmon said, explaining how the rural tobacco buildings of his native North Carolina countryside inform his architecture. His work, the Raleigh-based architect and North Carolina State University professor said, is rooted in site, context, and the programmatic requirements that yield his interpretation of modernism. Still, Harmon says, "It's not about the style but about the particulars."

McInturff agreed. "I see modernism through the lens of landscape, material, and detail," the Bethesda, Md.-based architect and professor at the University of Maryland school of architecture said. Though he brings no "baggage" to his new designs, McInturff said, "We need to stop pretending that we came from nowhere." He explained his architecture as "subversive or conciliatory modernism that works from the same shapes" as traditional forms.

For his part, Calabro said his firm, Bohlin Cywinksi Jackson, focuses on the landscape, the context, and the needs of the clients. The bottom line, Calabro said, is "that we are designing places for people, no matter what style [they happen to be]."