8 Raleigh Buildings on AIA-NC Favorite Architecture List

October, 23, 2007, by Jedidiah

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Following the lead of the National AIA’s Top 150 Buidings List, AIA North Carolina has released their top 25 buildings in North Carolina in 2 Lists. The first list is a result of a public survey, the second, a survey of AIA North Carolina Members.  The Biltmore in Asheville topped both lists, but 8 buildings from Raleigh made the cut on one of the two lists (4 of which are in the top 10 of the AIA Members Survey).  Dorton Arena was the only Raleigh building to grace both lists.  Raleigh has more buildings on the two lists than any other North Carolina city, reminiscent of this year’s AIA North Carolina State Awards. Below is a list of the buildings that made the lists, along with their architects (survey rankings are in parentheses). 
Dorton Arena - Matthew Nowicki and William Deitrick (AIA: 2nd, Public: 21)
Catalano House - Eduardo Catalano (AIA: 6th)
Kamphoefner Residence - Henry Kamphoefner (AIA: 7th)
NC State Capitol - Ithiel Town and Alexander J. Davis (AIA: 9th)
Matsumoto House - George Matsumoto (AIA: 16th)
Milton Small- original office - Milton Small (AIA: 19th)
NCSU Bell Tower - William Henry Deacy (Public: 24th)
Governor’s Mansion - Samuel Sloan (Public: 12th)

Full Results and More Information on the Surveys Here

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Architecture, Other posts by Jedidiah.




  • Dana
    10/23 12:44 PM

    Gotta say that Small, Matsumoto, and Catalano are/were just absurd. Small and Matsumoto are just ugly boxes. Kamphoefner and all the other Wright wannabes left a hideous scar on Raleigh that created a kneejerk reaction of an abundance of faux colonial.

    Isn’t it interesting that the newest building on that list is no newer than, what, 40 years? Going back before the ugly stuff I mentioned we’re talking many, many decades.

    Can’t we build some architecturally significant stuff in this town? We had a chance with the Marriott and it is a hopeless recreation of the Radisson. Ugh!

  • David
    10/23 02:32 PM

    “Hideous scar” more accurately describes the lot-clearing McMansions and psuedo-urban malls that real-estate interests are rapidly spreading.  You are such a fan of North Hills, maybe it will be recognized for biggest suburban tumor.

  • Sam
    10/23 03:59 PM

    Yes, let’s place all our architectural aspirations in the penultimate Marriott! I know we have become a hospitality driven society and cities no longer center around nature, church, factories, monuments, cultural facilities, shopping or even civil society_ (political activism or other). Parks, Churches, Museums, Malls, and Public Buildings have in someway failed to inspire us. If we are lucky the Marriott Hotel with it’s long corridors, beige carpet, glass elevators and brand identity variation #276 will bring an influx of people to sit on their ass, drive to the mall, watch tv, charge their ipods and move on to another fleeting internalized city experience at the next Marriott. “Architectural significance” could be interpreted as serving a mass populous and not the one off homes and office buildings that are more like fine art and less about societal contribution.

  • Dana
    10/23 04:05 PM

    The alternatives for North Hills were to turn it into an outlet mall or to raze it and line three big boxes up to the beltline with a sea of parking….or did you prefer those to the risks that Kane took?

    You actually know nothing about my thoughts on N. Hills, to be exact.

    The Marriott was a chance for Raleigh, with public money (like that used for Dorton, the Capital, Memorial Auditorium, etc), to create something architecturally significant with a high profile.  So here we sit talking about how wonderful Dorton is - it’s a functional nightmare and it is the same conversation that has continued for more than my life. Can’t we do anything better in this day? Other cities are.

  • David
    10/23 04:12 PM

    Well I do apologize for assuming your opinion, but I know your thoughts on North Hills from your long tenure on Raleighing. 

    I do think the Residences listed don’t deserve the badge of ‘hideous scars’- they are quite modest and secluded when compared to the mass of newer homes.

  • brian_M
    10/23 05:05 PM

    Oh god, please don’t let this turn into Raleighing 2.0. Some people really carry a lot of drama around with them. Middlebrow* drama, at that.

    *North Hills, North Hills, North Hills x infinity

  • Jim
    10/23 05:07 PM


    Raleigh is generally accepted to be a modernist architecture proving (play?) ground in the 40’s/50’s, as exemplified by some of the structures listed above (G. Milton Small office, Dorton Arena, Catalano house, Matsumoto house, etc.).  Whether or not they suit your tastes is one thing, but implicating them as the cause of widespread neocolonial-inspired developments in Raleigh, specifically, is probably off the mark.  Especially considering how much of this you see everywhere on the east (especially southeast) coast. 

    If you are not a fan of the modernist movement, which I’m guessing you’re not based on your comments, one is going to be hard-pressed to find architecturally groundbreaking structures in the past 80-100 years s/he likes, especially in smaller cities like Raleigh, where landmark buildings aren’t exactly churned out. 

    I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree as to whether or not the convention center Mariot marked a legitimate opportunity for an architectural gem, public funding notwithstanding (and to that end I was very dissapointed with what we ended up getting).  However, I do agree with you that Raleigh can do a whole lot better with much of its new construction.  The soporific, canned designs of condos such as the Dawson on Morgan, the one currently being constructed on Glenwood (which appears to be a veritable twin of the Dawson), and other similar projects serve as reminders of this.

  • JZ
    10/23 05:20 PM

    How’d we get fixated on the Marriott?  What about the opportunity squandered with Convention Center (i.e.: its aesthetics are quite progressive for Raleigh, but are at least 10 years out of date nationally and probably more internationally)

    What about the Quorum, or what Smedes York will be planning on the corner of Hillsborough and West?

    And don’t dis the Catalano House until you understand the structural and spatial landmark that it was.

  • Dan
    10/23 05:43 PM

    Ummm wait a minute isn’t all colonial faux(in Raleigh at least)...is there anyone out there who is a colonist?

    In calling those buildings “ugly boxes” you have signaled me that you don’t fully understand why any of the buildings that were on the list were picked.  So I’m sorry if some people can’t understand the simple beauty of the modernist movement, but we must remember that both the Matsumoto and the Catalano houses, when they were built gained worldwide attention for Raleigh and the School of Design.  The buildings that were built by modernists in the Triangle established this area as a design mecca in the 50’s and 60’s which in turn has helped to maintain and raise the influence of the creative class in Raleigh.

  • Jedidiah
    10/23 06:22 PM


    You couldn’t be more right about why these buildings are on the list.  They signified excellence in design at the point of construction and have most held up (except Catalano of course). 

    Dorton Arena was recently on the cover of Architecture Record, a national publication with international reach, and was is also a main topic in Wayne Place’s (NC State Design School Structures Professor) new text book.  For its structural design and span, there were no buildings at the time that did such and few still do so as elegant as it does.

    There are few buildings on this list post 1960s and most are either towers, stadiums or parking decks which is a bit sad.  Lucy Daniels is the only non-massive structure that made the cut in this regard (and is in Cary).  Therefore, it seems that this state has a special place for architecture that made a historic mark and we have few at all anywhere in the state since the modernist revolution in Raleigh.

    Remember, Raleigh did have more buildings on this list than any other city in North Carolina.  Go Raleigh.

  • Dana
    10/23 10:16 PM

    Just to tidy some stuff up here:

    “I do think the Residences listed don’t deserve the badge of ‘hideous scars’- they are quite modest and secluded when compared to the mass of newer homes.”

    Your comment triggered an interesting thought to me. Many of the critics of redeveloped properties (ie. “McMansions”) hate the way these developments don’t “fit in” with the neighborhood. Yet these award winners hardly fit into their neighborhoods when they were built. Just some interesting irony about which I don’t particularly feel any emotion.

    “Oh god, please don’t let this turn into Raleighing 2.0. Some people really carry a lot of drama around with them. Middlebrow* drama, at that.”

    Just for the record, I made 83% of the posts at raleighing and rarely participated in comment threads.

    “If you are not a fan of the modernist movement, which I’m guessing you’re not based on your comments, one is going to be hard-pressed to find architecturally groundbreaking structures in the past 80-100 years s/he likes, especially in smaller cities like Raleigh, where landmark buildings aren’t exactly churned out.”

    Stark boxes, I do not like. They are as becoming as polka music: fine for a whimsical day at an amusement park, but annoying on a daily basis. There are plenty of buildings from the last 20 years at UNC and Duke which I like very much. Burroughs-Wellcome and BCBS a far superior to those I mentioned above.

    “How’d we get fixated on the Marriott?”
    Dorton Arena, a public building, was mentioned in the top buildings. The Marriott was a chance to do something great and turns out to be a very mundane, budget-oriented rectangle. The Convention Center is not that ground-breaking, but has excellent elements to it. It, AT LEAST has an obtuse angle or two!

    “And don’t dis the Catalano House until you understand the structural and spatial landmark that it was.”

    I fully “understand” it, thank you. It was a very daring, unique structure. The key word in your remark, though, is the last one. I will never stop “dis"ing (is that a word?) a structure that can’t last more than 20 or so years. Roof failure and horrific water control doomed this thing. I suppose we could all pitch a tent and win an award. Give me buildings that will last longer than I, for goodness sake!

    “Ummm wait a minute isn’t all colonial faux(in Raleigh at least)”

    Actually, no. There are some excellent colonial revival houses between Glenwood and North Hills. Most cities DID NOT GET THIS MOVEMENT. Richmond has a few, but Atlanta, Charlotte, and Greensboro did not. Some of these have already been demolished and another, on Drummond, is soon to be lost.

    I was referring earlier to the nauseating plethora of of 5-over-4 houses with Palladian windows above the front door. People were so turned off by this version of modernism that it drove them back onto the most mind-numbing, lemming like designs possible. Nirvana broke pulled people away from Michael Jackson and Madonna, but ultimately bad wannabe grunge sent the masses to Britney Spears. Kamphoefner was no Wright and the Raleigh products of this movement did nothing for selling the movement to the masses.

    If you question my assertion that these boxes were so hideous and rejected by the public, look at what the people with money in the last 40 years have built. Why didn’t they want to go Kamphoefner 2.0? Why doesn’t someone want to buy the Paschal’s house? Why wasn’t the Poole house expanded 16-times over. It could have been really cool if the seed were actually worthy.

    Don’t get me wrong. I really like architectural variety. I can’t stand these cookie cutter neighborhoods yet I don’t want to tear down the hideous old First Federal bank building downtown. However not all varieties are appealing to all people. That doesn’t make the people dumb, and some of you haven’t gotten this point.

    I love the slope and soaring curves of Dorton Arena, but let’s face it, the building serves no function well. Even cattle shows must have adequate acoustics. Restrooms are remote and difficult to access, concession areas are too small for the crowd size, performer dressing areas are awful, climate control is poor, equipment loading and unloading areas are inconvenient, seating rise is too flat for good sightlines, and concourses are discrete instead of continuous. It was meant to serve the public, but is brutal to its very visitors. So aside from sexy form, its execution is a disaster. But, hey, we were learning back then.

    The RBC Center is a gorgeous example of function over form. It is Odell to the max. Form will always win these awards, though. It’s no different than the inexplicable success of the iPhone.

    I would have put the Legislature on there, probably Bob Winston’s house, and probably the Farm Bureau buildings before Matsumoto, Small, or Kampheofner. The problem is that Raleigh hasn’t aspired to do works that make us forget about these three. Charlotte, Chapel Hill, and Durham have.

  • brian_M
    10/24 12:51 AM

    I’m not sure I’ve ever disagreed with more things one person has written in one posting before.

    BTW - Nirvana swept aside Poison, Def Leppard and other hair bands. Shew…you can’t even get that right.

  • Dana
    10/24 02:25 AM

    Hair band fans were actually listening to Guns N’ Roses, not Nirvana.

  • brian_M
    10/24 10:16 AM


  • JZ
    10/24 01:07 PM

    Wow, Dana, you’re blowing my mind.

    Specifically:  you don’t understand the Catalano house. 

    Catalano had been doing research in hyperbolic parabaloid structures for years and wished to do this roof out of aluminum interlocking planks.  The trouble was that the industry had not built machines to extrude the material long enough to achieve the lengths he required for the home he had in mind.  Understanding the properties of wood, the roof was composed of three layers of tongue-and-groove boards (I think it was heart pine, but I don’t recall), alternating in direction to maximize the fiber strength in the wood.

    The eventual failure (uh, 40+ years later, longer than most suburban tract homes built after 1960) was due more to lack of maintenance than structural miscalculation.  And the risk taken in its design and construction yielded tremendous understanding of the dynamics of this kind of structural shape.  I would venture to say that P.L. Nervi may have be the only other individual with any sustained career length to explore thin shell construction. (maybe O. Niemeyer? maybe B. Fuller, another NCSU affiliate?....Eladio Dieste of Uruguay is a pretty close second, but I tend to think of him as the second generation)

    So, please, you’re not helping your cause and you’re starting to come across like a real horse’s ass.

  • JZ
    10/24 01:27 PM

    What’s upsetting about the entire AIA list is that many of the buildings selected by the public (i.e. the Biltmore, Duke Chapel or Pinehurst Golf Club) are merely examples the wealthy elite employing antiquated architectural languages for shock and awe.  While the buildings all incorporate modern technologies and conveniences, they mask them with appearances that end up communicating gluttonous pomposity more than design grace.  It also shows the lack of imagination an owner and architect can posses (can you posses a lack of something?) by using relying on the connotations of architectural languages established in the past.

    In other words, they are memorable for their sheer over-the-topness and rich use of materials than for some inherent quality that speaks to their time, owner’s/user’s aspirations or the site. 

    It really kind of bothers me that Biltmore was selected by the architects as well.  At the other extreme, I’m glad to see that NC Tobacco Barns were ranked #8.  That at least rebalances the scales a bit.

  • Dana
    10/24 06:03 PM

    Ha ha. I love a healthy debate and simply feel that function is devalued too much in architectural ratings.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe I resorted to personal attacks in my statements, while using my real name.

    Wow! 16 comments in this thread!

  • JZ
    10/24 10:55 PM

    I too agree good debate is important.

    I’m sorry for the personal affront.  I was referring not to you or your charater but to your commentary which was not demonstrating a knowledge of the subject at hand.  I feel its important to distinguish between opinion and scholarly acumen and to seek the proper balance in defending ideas in either arena.

    Jon Zellweger

  • brian_M
    10/24 11:38 PM

    I’m just heartened by this site, because it seems sophisticated in scope, unlike some earlier attempts by others. I hope the mouth-breathers don’t find it. Well, at least any more of them.

  • Robert E Leebowitz
    10/26 06:43 PM

    Great discussion.  We just wrote about it here:
    And linked to this thread.

  • RaleighRob
    10/27 02:43 AM

    While I don’t agree with most of what Dana said about the modernist buildings, he did bring up one point I thought about—the fact that the Legislative Building wasn’t listed.
    Personally, of all these modernist buildings, it has always been one of my favorites.  And, from what I know, is the one that has held up the best.

  • JZ
    10/30 12:07 AM

    Just watched a great video on Geoge Mastumoto who’s house was 16th on the list:


    the production is kind of sketchy near the 14 minute mark where it starts over from the beginning, but make sure to listen to the last 2 or 3 minutes…..

    thanks to George Smart of http://www.trianglemodernisthouses.com for calling my attention to it….

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