Saturday, June 10, 2006

Raleigh Modern 5

With the Uyanick-Eichenberger/Anderson house we come to see how tightly knit the NCSU School of Design community was--and remains. Architect Edward W. "Terry" Waugh, a South African native who studied at Cranbrook under Eliel Saarinen, joined a practice in Kansas City with fellow Cranbrook graduate George Matsumoto. Together in 1948 they followed Henry Kamphoefner to Raleigh. Nick Uyanick, an engineering professor at NCSU, taught structural principles to design school students. He also worked on the building that became known as the Dorton Arena, designed by School of Design professor Matthew Nowicki (who died in a plane crash before construction got under way).

The house is owned by Kurt Eichenberger and Donna Anderson. Eichenberger is an NCSU architecture graduate; his father, Fred Eichenberger, taught at the School of Design and knew the Uyanicks.


The house Waugh designed for the Uyanick family is tucked away in the woods, still with a tranquil feel even though the Raleigh Beltline is not far away. From the PNC materials:

The modest facade belies a warm and expansive interior. Large glass panels create a horizontal plane that softens the distinction between exterior and interior, and strong orange horizontal beams extend from interior to exterior to reinforce the sense of fluid space.


The house was designed in three zones: the first zone for guests and entertaining, the middle zone for family socializing, and the third, more private zone for bedrooms and baths.

Living/dining area

Family room

More photos.

For Waugh, both the siting and the orientation of the house were very important. The son of an engineer himself, he made conscious use of topography and solar patterns in order to achieve maximum privacy and natural climate control. "Without a doubt," we read in The South Builds (1960), co-authored by Waugh and his wife Elizabeth Waugh, "houses in the South ideally should have all rooms oriented in a southern direction with adequate overhang to cut out the summer sun. Similarly, the house--and bedrooms in particular--should open when possible to the prevailing breezes." Today--without a doubt--Waugh would be a strong advocate of solar energy. "The so-called solar house is a modern term," he observes, "but not a new idea. Vitruvius, writing centuries ago, spoke convincingly of the need to accommodate building design to the characteristics of the sun."

In the Uyanick-Eichenberger/Anderson house as well as the others on the PNC tour, many of the design principles Waugh champions are evident: the homes are modern with a distinctly "humanist" southern accent. "While the modern architect of the humanist group is in the minority, he has the greater freedom and the greater capacity for making the physical forces of nature work in his favor." In contrast, "[t]he sculptural formalist is defeated at the start if, in his effort to preserve the inherent beauty of the form, he disregards the need for such things as air spaces to cool the roof and ceiling-height partitions to secure acoustical privacy."

To close this mini-series on modern architecture in Raleigh, a word about the period in which these architects worked: the late 1940s into the 1960s. Economically, the South, like the rest of postwar America, was booming. Home construction, fueled by the GI Bill, was up. Suburban sprawl is the unfortunate legacy of this period of automobile-dependent expansion. Today we know that story all too well, but let us not forget that there were those like Waugh who saw it coming and hoped to head it off.

The modern architect cannot avoid a war that is now underway as a result of the spreading of the city over the countryside. A part of this war is the battle between the downtown merchants and the merchants of the outer shopping centers. A tremendous amount of money has been invested by leading banks and insurance companies in downtown buildings, as it has in town factories, which are also showing a tendency to migrate outside of city limits. The money-controlling institutions are obviously not going to abandon their heavy capital investment, and the fight to save the original downtown is coming more and more into the open. . . .

It is quite clear that there is going to be a long struggle between the desire of the average city dweller and shopper to escape from the concrete wilderness of the downtown metropolis and the desire of the investor to protect his enormous investment. If the Southern architect, either one in practice or the fledgling about to leave the architectural school, does not assume the responsibility and the social obligation imposed upon an ancient and respected profesison to join in this fight and help to bring it to a proper conclusion, then American cities in the New South will be left to the arbitrary control of the speculator, the highway engineer, the layman boards, the planner who is not an architect. In this respect the architects are already shamefully tardy. To state it simply, modern architects have no great significance unless they accept responsibility for over-all city and regional planning.

Waugh did not live to see it, but the architects lost the battle: in planning they are marginalized, and much of what he feared has come to pass. Still, the legacy of good design that he and these other "humanist" modernists left us can inspire us to keep trying to get it right.

Previously: Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Fadum house, Kamphoefner house, Rothstein house.

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