NC Modernist Houses contest gives awards for outstanding new designs

relder@newsobserver.comAugust 16, 2013 

Michael Rank's 3,200-square-foot modern gothic home recently received a Design Award from the Triangle chapter of the American Institute of Architects and is the top winner in the George Matsumoto Prize competition.


  • More about the winner

    Singer-songwriter Michael Rank’s “modern gothic” home – top winner in the George Matsumoto Prize competition – was featured in Home & Garden last spring.

    Read the story and see photos at

If the term “modern architecture” brings to mind a stark style best suited to urban landscapes, you may do a double take when looking over this year’s George Matsumoto Prize winners.

The six new homes recently honored by the N.C. Modernist Houses contest range from a rustic mountain cabin to a coastal villa that sits lightly at the water’s edge as if poised to flit away. Yet what connects this diverse collection of homes are the staples of modernist architecture: functional form and a design that reflects each home’s location.

George Smart, founder of the nonprofit N.C. Modernist Houses (formerly known as Triangle Modernist Houses), says another common thread among the award winners was an emphasis on energy conservation.

“Sustainability and energy efficiency – those are very important qualities,” Smart said. “People want to have that option.”

The contest, now in its second year, is named for architect George Matsumoto, a founding member of the faculty at N.C. State University School of Design. Matsumoto, who lives in California, served as honorary chairman of the judge’s panel. Voting jurors this year were architects Marlon Blackwell of Fayetteville, Ark., Larry Scarpa of Los Angeles and Tom Kundig of Seattle.

Members of the public also cast ballots for their favorite designs. The three homes receiving the largest number of online public votes also received recognition in the People’s Choice category.

The professional jury’s top pick was the Rank House near Pittsboro, a “modern gothic” structure designed by Katherine Hogan and Vinny Petrarca of Tonic Design + Construction. This house, which also won the People’s Choice third-prize award, was cited for its use of stairs as an “ordering element” inside the home and the effective way that the architects accommodated the needs of the homeowners, who are father and son.

The People’s Choice first place winner was Dragonfly Villa, a graceful home overlooking a lake near the coast. The house designed by Michael Ross Kersting of Wilmington has two wings with an living space between them that allows the homeowners to have an expansive view of the lake.

Other winners were the Chasen Residence, a compact and light-filled 1,450-square-foot home in Raleigh that earned second prize in both the juried contest and People’s Choice voting; and the 650-square-foot Mountain Cabin near Boone that includes traditional architectural elements in a modern design, a third-place winner in the juried selections.

Read more about the winners and other entries at

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