Tonic Design Wins Matsumoto Prize for Modernist Residential Architecture

Raleigh design/build firm lands one of only three jury awards.

August 15, 2012 (Raleigh, NC) – A house designed by architect Vinny Petrarca of Tonic Design + Tonic Construction in Raleigh received one of only three coveted Jury Awards during the inaugural George Matsumoto Prize for modernist residential, sponsored by Triangle Modernist Houses.

Tonic’s “GREENville House,” the firm's name for the home of Bobby and Kristi Walters of Greenville, NC, placed third in the competition, which was open to architects anywhere in the world as long as the house submitted was located in North Carolina.

The 4100-square-foot residence is composed of two primary design components -- bars and panels -- that act together in an environmentally sensitive structure. Narrow bars composed of private spaces branch out into the landscape to form courtyards, capture natural light, and maximize cross ventilation. The bars intersect to frame a central volume of double-height public space.

The central volume, open to the kitchen and dining space on the first floor and a balcony and loft above, aligns with views of the landscape.

The house’s structural system holds photovoltaic panels that provide the home’s energy and hot water. Perforated screens shading the opening to alleviate unnecessary heat gain. The house’s orientation on the site utilizes the maximum potential of the photovoltaic technology, decreasing the overall load on the geothermal HVAC system. A drip-irrigation system outside captures rainwater and stores it in an underground cistern. Materials include steel, masonry, glass, concrete, Western Red Cedar, and zinc siding.

An Energy Star house, the Walters' home was the first modern residence in the state to achieve LEED Silver accreditation.

The jury, comprised solely of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects, called the Walters’ house “a large and ambitious house with many materials and details. Well proportioned and vigorous, the house displays an uncommon passion for architecture. The materials and forms are stitched together like a beautiful quilt.”

The jury also applauded Tonic for the firm’s “courage and energy to both design and build this remarkable house.”

The other two Jury Award winners were John Reese, AIA, of Weinstein Freidlein Architects for the Banbury House in Raleigh, and Mike Rantilla, AIA, for his own home on Pictou Road, also in Raleigh.

The jurors for the inaugural Matsumoto Prize were: Frank Harmon, chairman; George Matsumoto (for whom the Prize was named), honorary chair; Marlon Blackwell; Larry Scarpa; David Jameson; and Tom Kundig. Public vote via an online voting site served as one seventh of the total.

Patrarca, a Professor of Practice at NC State University's College of Design and co-owner Tonic Design + Tonic Construction with architect Katherine Hogan, received a $1000 cash prize and a glass trophy, both presented by Triangle Modernist Houses, a non-profit organization dedicated to documenting, preserving and promoting modernist residential design from the 1950s to today.

For more information on the George Matsumoto Prize, go to

For more information on Tonic Design + Tonic Construction, visit

About Tonic Design + Tonic Construction:

As two separate but interacting companies, Tonic Design and Tonic Construction work toward executing sensitive modern design solutions that make a difference in their clients’ lives and contribute to the architectural fabric of their buildings’ communities. Tonic has the flexibility to take on the role of architect or general contractor, or to collaborate together as an award-winning design-build firm. The firm’s projects have been featured in many national publications, including Architectural Record, Residential Architect, Dwell, Custom Homes, Inform magazine, and Metal Architecture. For more information visit

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