NC Modernist Houses, Preservation Durham To Co-Host Special “Thirst4Architecture” Happy Hour

Both non-profits welcome design enthusiasts to networking event at Straw Valley Café

Inside Straw Valley Cafe

Inside Straw Valley Cafe


August 20, 2013 (Durham, NC) —  NC Modernist Houses (NCMH) and Preservation Durham will host a special addition to NCMH’s 2013 “Thirst4Architecture” series of happy hour networking events on Thursday, September 19, from 5:30 until 7:30 p.m. at Straw Valley Café in Durham.

“Thirst4Architecture” events provide anyone interested in Modernist architectural design a chance to get together in an informal environment. The events are free and open to the public. Free, light appetizers will accompany the cash bar.

“We’re delighted to co-host this special T4A happy hour with NC Modernist Houses in a location that has such a rich history within our city,” said Wendy Hillis, Executive Director of Preservation Durham.

Straw Valley Café is a collection of structures that house a coffee bar, wine bar, stores, a courtyard, and an event hall. The property was first a dairy farm named for the broomcorn straw that grew along the Durham-Chapel Hill highway. Fifty-three years ago, artists Robert Keith Black and J. Osmond Sanderson converted the barn into their living-working quarters, filling it with Modernist furniture and art. As a result, Straw Valley was the subject of newspaper articles, magazine photo shoots, and home tours throughout the 1970s.

Current owner Scott Bednaz of Terracorp Properties was also one of Preservation Durham’s Pyne Award winners in 2012. The Pyne Award is given to both homeowners and commercial property owners for sensitive restoration projects that preserve Durham’s historic architecture and architectural heritage.

Now as Straw Valley Café, the house has been renovated to recall its structure as a barn yet it is once again filled with contemporary furniture and decor to honor its former residents.

“We welcome anyone interested in architecture and historic preservation of our architectural heritage to join us and enjoy the Straw Valley ambience,” said NCMH founder and director George Smart. “T4A focuses on building relationships, generating passion for good design, creating strategic alliances, and connecting people to each other. There are no presentations. We just want folks to come out and enjoy themselves.”

Straw Valley Café is located at 5420 Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard, Durham, NC 27707 (919-403-2233). For directions and more information visit


NEWS & OBSERVER: “NC Modernist Houses contest gives awards for outstanding new designs”

Michael Rank's 3,200-square-foot modern gothic home recently received a Design Award from the Triangle chapter of the American Institute of Architects and is the top winner in the George Matsumoto Prize competition.

Michael Rank’s 3,200-square-foot modern gothic home recently received a Design Award from the Triangle chapter of the American Institute of Architects and is the top winner in the George Matsumoto Prize competition.


If the term “modern architecture” brings to mind a stark style best suited to urban landscapes, you may do a double take when looking over this year’s George Matsumoto Prize winners.

The six new homes recently honored by the N.C. Modernist Houses contest range from a rustic mountain cabin to a coastal villa that sits lightly at the water’s edge as if poised to flit away. Yet what connects this diverse collection of homes are the staples of modernist architecture: functional form and a design that reflects each home’s location.

George Smart, founder of the nonprofit N.C. Modernist Houses (formerly known as Triangle Modernist Houses), says another common thread among the award winners was an emphasis on energy conservation.

“Sustainability and energy efficiency – those are very important qualities,” Smart said. “People want to have that option.” READ MORE…

NC Modernist Houses Announces 2013-2014 MODTriangle Architecture Movie Series

Five films over five months spotlighting people, places, and trends in architecture.PeopleInGlassHouses


August 6, 2013 (Raleigh, NC) – North Carolina Modernist Houses (formerly Triangle Modernist Houses) announces its 2013-2014 MODTriangleArchitecture Movie Series. Naming sponsor MODTriangle is a Raleigh real estate agency led by Sarah Sonke that specializes in Modernist houses and auctions.

Starting in October and running one Wednesday each month through February at the Raleigh Grande, the season’s schedule is:


·       October 2 – Double feature:  “Futuro: A New Stance For Tomorrow,” about the rise and fall of the plastic Futuro house, a Space Age utopia; and “People In Glass Houses: The Legacy of Joseph Eichler.”


·       November 6 – “The Oyler House” (2013). Filmmaker Mike Dorsey will be on hand to introduce his documentary about a house designed by the late Modernist architect Richard Neutra.


·       December 11 – “Regular or Super: Views on Mies van der Rohe,” an in-depth look at this architect-as-artist and what he tried to do for American architecture.


·       January 8 – “If You Build It” (2013), a documentary that follows designer-activists Emily Pilloton and Matthew Miller in poor, rural Bertie County, North Carolina, where they work with local high school students to transform both their community and their lives.


·       February 5 – “Lioness Among Lions: The Architect Zaha Hadid,” a film that explores the life and controversial work of this world-famous English-Iraqi architect and 2004 Pritzker Prize winner.


Trailers and more information on each film are available at

Other series sponsors include VMZINC®; Alison Steele of A+S Design; architect Dail Dixon, FAIA; Kim Weiss of Blueplate PR; Lee Hansley Gallery; Frank Konhaus and KONTEK; and MdM Historical Consultants.

The Raleigh Grande is located at 4840 Grove Barton Road, off Glenwood Avenue/Highway 70 West in Raleigh. All movies start at 7:30 p.m. General admission is $9 per person per film at the NCMH Ticket Desk inside the theatre. Members of the Mod Squad are free.  Proceeds benefit NCMH’s ongoing documentation, preservation, and promotion programs.