Modernist Houses Across North Carolina Take Top Honors In The 2014 Matsumoto Prize

North Carolina Modernist Houses' annual design awards program.

 (Above: Inside/Outside, The Smart-Stell House by Tonic Design + Tonic Construction)

Jul 22, 2014 -- Modernist houses from Asheville to Wilmington, NC, received top honors last week in the third annual  George Matsumoto Prize for Modernist residential design across the state, sponsored by the award-winning non-profit organization  North Carolina Modernist Houses (NCMH).

The houses submitted had to be in North Carolina but the designers could be based anywhere. All submissions were capable of winning in two, or both, categories: the Jury Awards and the People’s Choice Awards.

During a special ceremony that NCMH held at the Contemporary Art Museum in downtown Raleigh, sponsored by CAM, Foundation bar, and Palette & Parlor, architect Frank Harmon, FAIA, announced the winners of the Jury Awards category, which were chosen by a team of professional architects from California, Massachusetts, and New York, and included cash prizes. The 2014 Jury Award winners were:

1.     First Place: The  Smart-Stell House in Durham, designed and built by Vincent Petrarca of Tonic Design + Tonic Construction of Raleigh.

2.     Second Place: The  Herbits House in Leicester, designed by Eric Gartner of SPG Architects in New York, New York.

3.     Third Place: The  Hedly House in Asheville, designed by Maria Rusafova of Rusafova-Markulis Architects in Asheville.

According to Harmon, who facilitated the jury for NCMH, the jurors commented that there were good merits in all of the projects submitted, which made it difficult to select the winners. “The projects the jury felt were the most interesting,” Harmon said, “dealt with their specific sites in clear and compelling ways. For example: a house by a lake, a house in the treetops, and a mountain house.”

The jury also commended the winning designers for their use of “common sense: cross-ventilation, roof overhangs, and daylight. Sustainability seemed common to all and each winning house represents good simplicity of form and massing."

NCMH founder George Smart announced the People’s Choice Awards winners, selected by 1200 people from around the world who voted online. The 2014 People’ Choice winners were:

1.     First Place: The  Lebda Guest House in Wilmington, designed by Michael Ross Kersting with Toby R. Keaton of Michael Ross Kersting Architecture of Wilmington.

2.     Second Place: The  Dasgupta-Saucier House in Raleigh, designed by Robby Johnston and Craig Kerins of Raleigh Architecture & Raleigh Construction of Raleigh.

3.     Third Place: The  UrbanEden House in Charlotte, designed and built by the UNC-Charlotte Solar Decathlon Architecture Team, advisor Mona Azarbajani.

The Matsumoto Prize is named to honor George Matsumoto, FAIA, a founding faculty member at the North Carolina State University School of Design (now College of Design) who is well known for many exemplary mid-century Modernist houses he designed across North Carolina. Matsumoto also served as Honorary Chair of the professional jury.

For more information on the winning projects, and to see all of the submissions, visit

About North Carolina Modernist Houses: 

North Carolina Modernist Houses (NCMH) is an award-winning, 501C3 nonprofit organization established in 2007 and dedicated to documenting, preserving, and promoting Modernist residential design. The website is now the largest open digital archive for Modernist residential design in America. NCMH also hosts popular architecture events every month and frequent home tours, giving the public access to the most exciting residential architecture, past and present. These tours and events raise awareness and help preserve these "livable works of art" for future generations. For more information:

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