Triangle Modernist Houses (TMH), a program of the Raleigh, N.C., nonprofit online preservation and advocacy organization Triangle Modernist Archive, recently was honored with the 2009 Paul E. Buchanan Award for its contributions to the study and preservation of vernacular architecture and the cultural landscape.
Created by the Vernacular Architecture Forum, the award recognizes conservation and preservation efforts typically conducted or produced for a limited audience, such as studies, reports, documentation projects, restoration plans, exhibits, video or digital media productions, public programs, and National Register nominations. Books and published works aren't eligible for consideration.
Founded in 2007 by George Smart, TMH advocates for the restoration and growth of modernist architecture in the North Carolina Triangle, an eight-county region of the state anchored by the cities of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. Smart's father, George Smart (1931–2003), practiced architecture in Raleigh for more than 40 years. "Though he designed very few houses, he was a big fan of the modernist movement," Smart says of his dad. As a leadership training consultant for corporations and associations, Smart has no professional connection to architecture and thinks his love of modernist design must be genetically ingrained. "I have just suddenly woken up to it in the last two or three years," he says.
TMH serves primarily as an educational archive of modernist residential design in the area and organizes several modernist house tours throughout the year, to which hundreds of modernist enthusiasts flock. The organization attempts to chronicle each house in its archive through additions, renovations, and new owners. It also helps current owners of modernist residential architecture network with one another and provides prospective buyers with detailed information, histories, and maps of local modernist houses in an effort to help preserve the properties.
"The best way to preserve them is to keep them occupied," Smart says. "Realtors typically dislike modern houses because they don't sell very fast, particularly in this economy. And the MLS doesn't have a category for "modern" or "architect-designed" houses; the closest it comes is "contemporary." Our list links potential buyers to exactly the kind of house they're looking for. We get traffic from all over the country from people who want to move here, using our list to find their next house."
TMH recently produced a two-minute video review of 60 years of modernist design in the Triangle area and posted it to YouTube here. For more details on TMH, including future modern house tours, visit www.trianglemodernisthouses.com.