The Powers Residence received the AIANC Residential Merit Award for 2016.
Two modern, urban-infill houses designed in tandem, side-by-side.
When architects enter custom-designed housing in awards competitions, they enter either single-family houses or multi-dwelling projects: multiple, separate housing units that are contained within one building or several buildings within one complex.
For the 2015 AIA NC Design Awards, The Raleigh Architecture Company (RACo) did neither. Partners Craig Kerins, AIA, and Robby Johnston, AIA, entered “Edentwins” — two single-family urban-infill houses that they designed concurrently and built on adjoining lots in downtown Raleigh.
On September 26, Johnston and Kerins received an Honor Award for their innovative duo from the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA NC) during an awards ceremony held at the 21c Museum Hotel in Durham.
“Edentwins challenge standard single-family infill development by sharing space, resources, and mutual values with each other,” said Johnston, who lives in one of the award-winning houses with his wife and young daughters.
Edentwins are perched above East Edenton Street, a three-lane, one-way thoroughfare that connects residential neighborhoods to the east with downtown Raleigh. The site plan is organized around a shared central courtyard that visually and spatially ties the houses — and the families who occupy them — together. The courtyard provides outdoor play space for the kids and fresh-air entertainment space for the parents.
According to the RACo partners, small buildable areas on the lots and tight zoning restrictions influenced the houses’ compact linear footprints and projecting forms. Front porches, shaded by the cantilevered second floors, link the homes to the community, reinforce the existing vernacular, and maintain how houses there address the sidewalk and street.
Conceived of as “fraternal twins,” according to the partners, the homes share common traits yet retain their own identities. For example, golden-toned North Carolina cypress adds a note of warmth to the exteriors of both flat-roofed houses, although 556 combines the wood with the rusty patina of Corten® steel while 554 uses reclaimed slate from an old house razed in a nearby neighborhood as outdoor cladding.
The award-winning “Edentwins” are the first houses in a cluster of homes the RACo team is completing in the old inner-city neighborhood known as Hungry Neck North.
An award-winning Modern home in Raleigh’s old “Hungry Neck” neighborhood, designed and built by The Raleigh Architecture Company (RACo), will be open to the public during the sixth Residential Tour sponsored by the Triangle Section of the American Institute of Architects’ North Carolina chapter (AIA Triangle). The tour will take place on Saturday, September 26, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
One of only seven residences selected for the 2015 tour, the Hungry Neck house received an AIA Triangle honor award for design excellence and construction quality this past spring.
“Honor awards are granted to projects that exemplify excellence of architectural design on all levels of analysis and are reserved for those projects that stand out,” said design jury chairman William Carpenter, FAIA, of Decatur, Georgia.
This house is actually one of a cluster of compact modern houses in the old neighborhood just east of downtown Raleigh. Designed by RACo partners Craig Kerins, AIA, and Robby Johnston, AIA, it perches on an infill lot overlooking a busy thoroughfare. In the spirit of the neighborhood, the partners turned a corner of the façade into a front porch.
The owner is a chef by avocation, so the interior revolves around cooking and entertaining. A light-filled, double-height space in the center of the house connects the open kitchen to the rest of the house. At the rear of the house, large operable glazing lets the dining room expand outside and focuses the view on a 100-year-old oak tree. A balcony off the master bedroom suite provides outdoor living space on the second floor.
AIA Triangle encompasses members in Wake, Durham, Orange, Lee, Chatham, Franklin, Warren, Vance, Granville, and Person counties. The houses on the 2015 tour are located in Raleigh, Durham, Creedmoor, and Pittsboro.
The young firm’s partners will represent an emerging and innovative design-build practice.
Robby Johnston, AIA, and Craig Kerins, AIA, founders and partners of The Raleigh Architecture Company (RACo) in Raleigh, will discuss their design-build work during the American Institute of Architects’ Winston-Salem section meeting on Tuesday, May 19, beginning at 12 noon in the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts in downtown Winston-Salem.
According to section president Jason Miller, AIA Winston-Salem has developed a “dual-pronged approach to section meetings: one focused on policy issues…and another devoted to emerging and innovative practices from across the state.” The RACo partners will represent the Triangle area for the latter theme.
Miller said he’s particularly interested in RACo’s work since he teaches in and practices through the “design-build-centric” Building Science program in Appalachian State University’s Department of Technology and Environmental Design in Boone, NC.
Johnston and Kerins founded The Raleigh Architecture Company and The Raleigh Construction Company, in the Warehouse District of downtown Raleigh in 2012. Since then, the young firm has completed 15 Modern residential projects and 15 commercial projects, including retail up-fits within existing historic buildings from Raleigh to Asheville. Kerins also designs and hand crafts Modern furniture.
For more information on AIA Winston-Salem, visit www.aiawinstonsalem.org.
AIA Triangle and NC Modernist Houses tour-goers discovered Raleigh Architecture Co.’s innovative urban infill houses in an old neighborhood.
“Hungry Neck,” an old, established neighborhood just east of Downtown Raleigh, is not an expected destination for homes tours. A mixed-use neighborhood, most of the houses there were built between 1900 and 1940 and many of those are in disrepair.
However, two recent homes tours – the Triangle section of the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA Triangle) Residential Tour on October 11th and North Carolina Modernist Houses’ (NCMH) annual “ModaPalooza Tour” of strictly Modernist houses on October 17 – brought hundreds of surprised participants to the 500 block of East Edenton Street. There they discovered two Modernist urban-infill houses designed and built by Craig Kerins, AIA, and Robby Johnston, AIA, of theRaleigh Architecture Company (RACo).
At 554 and 556 East Edenton Street, these houses are actually two of five RACo-designed Modernist houses that will soon grace the Hungry Neck neighborhood within a block of each other. One across the street, the Hungry Neck house at 562 New Bern Avenue, is under construction. (The NCMH group got a sneak-peak inside.) Next door to the Hungry Neck house, the Floyd house at 558 New Bern is just a foundation at the moment, as is the fifth project, the Powers house at 567 New Bern.
“We’re very committed to downtown Raleigh,” said architect Robby Johnston, AIA, who co-owns the two-year-old design/build firm with his partner, architect Craig Kerins, AIA. “The name of our firm reflects that and we maintain both our office and shop under one roof in the Warehouse District. We’re very interested in building community in this neighborhood, which is really a delightful place where people on porches and walking down the sidewalk interact all the time.”
Johnston and Kerins also live in or near the downtown district. In fact, 554 Edenton is Johnston’s private residence, which he shares with his wife and two young daughters. Nabarun Dasgupta and Roxanne Saucier own the house next door with son Ishan.
How did RACo manage to get all five commissions? “We created the first two, the Edenton homes, by purchasing both properties and preparing a developmentproforma to court prospective clients,” Johnston explained. “Once these took shape the phone began ringing with interest not only in the area but also in the kind of architecture we were offering. Then we began to create relationships between our clients and prospective landowners and served as purchase advisors/consultants based on our institutional knowledge of the actual value of building in this area.”
Johnston calls the two completed houses on the recent tours “paternal twins.” Architecturally, they share certain similarities, he explained, including North Carolina cypress siding, window style, thin shed roofs, and a narrow footprint – yet maintain individual identities through variations in form and materials. They also share a green space/courtyard since the compact lots didn’t allow for individual side yards, as well as upper-level outdoor spaces: Johnston’s 1800-square-foot house features a second-floor terrace while the 2100-square-foot Dasgupta-Saucier house features a third-story terrace.
The houses differ in additional exterior materials. Gray slate from a demolished house in nearby Historic Brooklyn neighborhood became siding for 554 Edenton. The Corten steel that wraps around 556’s upper level is transforming from a raw steel finish to a uniform, intentional patina as it acclimates to is downtown Raleigh surroundings.
Since Kerins and Johnston knew they were introducing Modernist, sustainable residential design to this old urban neighborhood, they made a concerted effort to recall architectural elements from the existing structures. Front porches, created and shaded by cantilevered upper forms, “pay tribute to the importance of ‘public’ outdoor space in these and all historic Southern homes,” Kerins noted. The houses address the sidewalk at the same distance as neighboring houses and floor-to-ceiling windows on the lower levels engage the neighborhood while high windows on the upper levels provide privacy for the personal spaces there.
To ensure an abundance of natural light in these slim houses, RACo designed open floor plans for both with double-height cores capped by large skylights. RACo fabricated open steel staircases in each to accommodate vertical circulation. At 556 Edenton, the staircase is a bold element within the space.
The NCMH “ModaPalooze” group also visited RACo’s renovation of the Larry Wheeler-Don Doskey house in Chapel Hill.