Instead of our regularly scheduled Modernist Home of the Month spotlight, we’re switching things up this month to highlight Raleigh’s iconic modernist architecture as a category and dive into a little history of how modernist design got its roots here!
Modernism and architecture in general have played a considerable role in Raleigh’s history—from its civic spaces and museums to its bars and restaurants to its hotels and neighborhoods. The area’s modernist roots can be traced back to the founding of NC State’s architecture school in 1948, which brought in a number of modernist minds and ideas to our local area.
According to George Smart, founder of Durham-based USModernist.org, a modernist building possesses four qualities: a flat or low-pitched roof, an unusual geometry, an abundance of windows and light sources, and an open floor plan.
By 1960, North Carolina was a hub for progressive, modern design as NC State churned out an abundance of architects experienced in the principles of regional modernism. And, though Raleigh has evolved and certain principles of “modernism” have changed as well, the city continues to be a hub for modernist buildings rooted in tradition and history.
Below, take a look at some of the area’s emblematic architecture.
Raleigh’s Most Iconic Modernist Buildings
Designed by Matthew Nowicki, acting head of NC State’s architecture school until his death in 1950, J.S. Dorton Arena features a revolutionary saddle-shaped roof supported by a network of cables.
More recently, the library at NC State’s Centennial Campus was designed by the Swedish architecture firm Snøhetta and completed in 2013. The university’s “library of the future” showcases NC State’s forward-thinking spirit.
On the residential side, the Henry L. Kamphoefner House was designed in 1948 by NC State’s first dean of the College of Design, Henry Kamphoefner, and former NC State professor George Matsumoto.
Another more recent project, Raleigh’s Rantilla House was built in 2008 and designed by architect Mike Rantilla. The modern cabin has won multiple awards, including the 2009 AIA Triangle Honor Award.