The AIA announced the recipient of the 2016 Collaborative Achievement Award, which recognizes and encourages initiatives of allied professionals, clients, organizations, architect teams, knowledge communities, and others who have positively influenced or advanced the architectural field. This year’s winner is George Smart, architectural historian and founder of North Carolina Modernist Houses (NCMH), a Durham, N.C.–based nonprofit organization that documents, preserves, and promotes modernist architecture in the Old North State as well as many well-known residences across the country. In doing so, Smart’s leadership has created a bridge between the public and design professionals.
Since its inception in 2007, NCMH has built the largest, open digital archive for residential modernist architecture and architects, boasting more than 21,000 images, which has been used as a resource for civic leaders, historians, students, and preservationists. Featured designers include over 200 North Carolinian architects, as well as other notable modernists such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Paul Rudolph, Richard Neutra, Olson Kundig, Frank Gehry, AIA, Walter Gropius, Richard Meier, AIA, John Lautner, and Charles and Ray Eames. Dozens of threatened homes have also dodged being demolished with NCMH's advocacy.
The nonprofit (formerly known as Triangle Modernist Houses) has brought about other initiatives into the region, as well. Such community-driven projects include single- and multi-family public home tours; an architecture movie series; an annual dinner for modernist designers; summer-long networking events; and a podcast show.
The modernist organization started their own design awards in 2012, the George Matsumomo Prize, which is an annual awards program that distinguishes Modernist residences in the South, and honors George Matsumoto, FAIA. As one of the founding faculty members of North Carolina State University’s (NCSU) College of Design, and the state’s foremost modernist designers, he helped to make the area an epicenter of modernist architecture. During his tenure at NCSU, he was awarded more than 30 awards for his residential work. The program is designed to encourage the younger generation of architects to continue this aesthetic, and uphold the state's reputation as having the third largest concentration of modernist housing in the country.
To inspire a younger generation to carry the state's legacy as a center for modernism, the nonprofit also came up with Project BauHow in 2013, which provides supplementary resources to high school students interested in pursuing architecture. This year, the program will give 200 desktop CAD computers to high school students to keep, so they may practice at home and build up their portfolio for college. In exchange, teachers agree to assign their classes to design a modern home to then submit to the student category of the Matsumoto Prize. The winner of represented school will then receive a scholarship to the North Carolina State University Design Day Camp in July 2016.
Smart will be honored at the 2016 AIA National Convention in Philadelphia in May.
The jury for this award included jury chair Drew White, FAIA, founder of Axis Architecture & Interiors in Indianapolis; Rick Bell, FAIA, executive director for the City of New York’s Department of Design and Construction; Sarah Dirsa, AIA, project manager at KG&D Architects in Mt. Kisco, N.Y.; Daniel Feil, FAIA, executive architect on the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission in Washington, D.C.; and Jennifer Penner, Assoc. AIA, project manager of Studio Southwest Architects in Albuquerque, N.M.
Past awards he has received include the Legacy Award from AIA North Carolina and the Isosceles Award from the American Institute of Architects Triangle Section, both of which were given out in 2013.
Read ARCHITECT's complete coverage of the 2016 AIA Honor Awards.