Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Raleigh Modern 1


On June 3, Preservation North Carolina hosted an architectural tour of examples of mid-century modernism in Raleigh. Thanks largely to the influence of the N.C. School (now College) of Design under Henry Kamphoefner's leadership beginning in 1948, Raleigh today has quite a nice legacy of modern design--not an overwhelming amount in a city that never did forsake its traditional roots, but a lot to be proud of. In this post, the first of a series, I'll focus on Kamphoefner's house, which he designed with George Matsumoto. Below is how it appears from the golf course to the rear of the house. The life in this house flows out into the back yard.

khoefner back
Photo: Raleigh Historic Districts Commission

The view from the street, in contrast, is unassuming.

khoefner front
Photo: Raleigh Historic Districts Commission

The house, no longer in Kamphoefner hands, has undergone a significant expansion and renovation designed by Robert P. Burns, a distinguished architect and professor at the College of Design. In 2003, the project earned the Gertrude S. Carraway Award of Merit from Preservation North Carolina. In 2006, Burns died in a car wreck (.pdf).

According to the tour materials, the Kamphoefner house reflects Frank Lloyd Wright's "ideal of a home as 'refuge and prospect.'" The "refuge" is the private living quarters, with its back to the street; the "prospect" the view from the sheltered yet open living space in the back. Further in Wright's tradition, the house makes generous use of natural materials, resulting in a feeling of warmth that characterizes, to a greater or lesser degree, all the homes on the Raleigh tour. Rejecting or highly modifying the sleek modular formalism of the International style, the Raleigh modernists came to practice what one in their ranks, Terry Waugh, called "humanist" modernism--with Waugh conceding that among the purer modernists it might be called "romantic." (The South Builds: New Architecture in the Old South, UNC Press, 1960.)

Enter the Kamphoefner house.

Next: Fadum house, Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Rothstein house, Uyanick-Eichenberger/Anderson house.

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