Frank Harmon discusses Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See

Sunday 2/10, 2 p.m.

Featuring an introduction by Philip Szostak, FAIA!

Native Places is a collection of sixty-four watercolor sketches paired with essays about architecture, landscape, everyday objects, and nature. The sketches convey the delight found in ordinary places. The short essays, inspired by the sketches, offer fresh interpretations of what we might have taken for granted.

The goal of Native Places is, in fact, to transform the way we see. Through its pages, barns become a guidebook to crops and weather; a country church is redolent of the struggle for civil rights; a highway rest stop offers a glimpse of egalitarian society.

Native Places also promotes the belief that hand drawing is not an obsolete skill — that sketching offers us an opportunity to develop a natural grace in the way we view the world and take part in it.

Frank Harmon, FAIA, has designed sustainable modern buildings across the Southeast for 30 years. He discovered architecture as a child playing in the streams and woods of his native Greensboro, North Carolina. His work engages pressing contemporary issues such as placelessness, sustainability, and restoration of cities and nature. The buildings he designs are specific to their sites and use materials such as hurricane-felled cypress and rock from local quarries to connect them to their landscapes. Airy breezeways, outdoor living spaces, deep overhangs, and wide lawns embody the vernacular legacy of the South while maintaining a distinguished modernism. Frank is a graduate of the Architectural Association in London and a professor at the North Carolina State University College of Design. He has taught at the Architectural Association and has served as a visiting critic at Harvard, the University of Virginia, and Auburn University's Rural Studio.

About Philip Szostak, FAIA: Principal of Szostak Design, Phil’s work has been widely acknowledged, garnering numerous local, regional and national awards for design excellence over the course of his career. In 2009 he was named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and in 2010 he was the co-recipient of AIA North Carolina’s Kamphoefner Award for outstanding contributions to modernism in architecture. In 2014, Szostak Design was honored with AIA North Carolina’s Firm of the Year Award, the highest honor the state chapter can bestow upon a firm.

Praise for Frank Harmon

“Native Places is a sketchbook, memoir, travel journal, aesthetic experiment, a collection of small familiar essays, and maybe in some respects even a manifesto. I venture this last possibility because of the consistent appreciation and celebration of the vernacular. It leads us to discover the ‘ordinary,’ which is not the same as the obvious, and then to agree that place does not contain architecture but, in the wisest instances, allies with it, or perhaps brothers with it. It brings me to observe things I had not seen because I only took them for granted. Native Places reminds me of a saying by the composer Max Bruch: ‘One folk song is worth a hundred art songs.’ ” -- Fred Chappell, author, poet, professor, and North Carolina poet Laureate 1997-2002
“It’s simultaneously academic and intimate — and it speaks to humanity.” -- Tom Kundig, FAIA, Olson Kundig Architects, Seattle, Washington
“Frank Harmon has designed many important and beautiful buildings. Here is a work of his art you can hold in your hands. Enlightening and joyous, Native Places takes us into and beyond what Harmon calls the ‘broken places’ of the world and gives the reader a new way to see them.” -- Best-selling novelist Angela Davis-Gardner
“There are as few gestures as possible to capture a multi-layered spirit. There’s almost always an element of landscape and something out of the ordinary and something extraordinary. A world emerges… His idea is not to get in the way of pure observation, that you’re looking at the world with clear eyes. It reassures us, basically, that our instincts are right.” -- Tod Williams, FAIA, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects - Partners, New York, New York
“Frank Harmon’s sketches and essays are a quick window into a truth. He’s asking us to go deeper and grander with a historical perspective, and to understand why things are the way they are. It’s more the ’why’ than the ‘what.’ ” -- Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, Marlon Blackwell Architects, Fayetteville, Arkansas
“It’s accessible and beautiful writing that’s thought-provoking, spiritual and uplifting. It’s like he knew what we needed.” – Julieta Sherk, landscape architect, professor, J. William Fulbright Global Scholar
Event date: 
Sunday, February 10, 2019 - 2:00pm
Event address: 
752 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See Cover Image
ISBN: 9781940743455
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Oro Editions - September 16th, 2018