Frank Harmon on the purpose of writing and sketching, what makes great writers, artists, and architects, and the importance of giving people a sense of place.
Frank Harmon, FAIA, is a nationally renowned award-winning architect, a professor of architecture at NC State University’s College of Design. and a popular mentor to four decades of student architects. A graduate of the Architectural Association in London and a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, he has also taught at the Architectural Association and has served as a visiting critic at Harvard, the University of Virginia, and Auburn University’s renowned Rural Studio. Among dozens of design awards throughout his career, Frank received AIA NC’s highest honor, the F. Carter Williams Gold Medal, in 2013.
Frank is also a published writer and illustrator, using hand-drawn sketches and 200-word essays that consider the relationship between nature and built structures in his online journal Nativeplaces.org. In 2018, ORO Editions published a collection of sketch/essay duos from the journal and Frank's thoughts on the value of drawing in a hardback book entitled Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See. He is currently working on a new book that celebrates the people, places, and stories behind eight of his signature projects.
Frank lives in Raleigh in the award-winning modernist house and lush gardens near NCSU that he designed with his late wife, landscape architect Judy Harmon.
- “My goal in life is to make short sentences.”
- “We lost contact with our senses by making everything depend on the visual.”
- “When we draw, we touch.”
- “Once we’ve bought into the digital internet world, we’re never going to get rid of it.”
- “When we make a place [we should make it] situated in its place so that we've got something physical and concrete that grounds us in an otherwise unlimited digital world.”
- “Genius is the ability to recall your childhood at any time.” —Baudelaire
- Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See by Frank Harmon
- The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses by Juhani Pallasmaa
- Frank’s Instagram
- Native Places blog by Frank Harmon
- Frank’s Drawing as a Way to See talk at Clark Nexsen (2019)
- Frank’s Heritage talk at Creative Mornings Raleigh (2014)
- Less is Love by Frank Harmon
- Ernest Hemingway
- Joan Didion
- C. S. Forester
- Tadao Ando
- Kevin Carl - Child psychologist, friend
- Pablo Picasso
- Henry David Thoureau - “ Every child discovers the world anew.”
- Peter Zumthor
- Jordan Gray (podcast)
- Charles Baudelaire - “[G]enius is nothing more nor less than childhood recovered at will.”
- William Shakespeare
- Alice Munro - Canadian short story writer, Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013
- Marlon Blackwell
- William Faulkner - American writer
- Glenn Murcutt
- Tom Kundig
- Ted Flato
- Rick Joy - Studio Rick Joy
- Brigitte Shim - Shim-Sutcliffe Architects
- Brian MacKay-Lyons
- Patricia and John Patkau - Patkau Architects
- Larry Scarpa
- Frank Gehry
- James Monroe
- Henry Woodhead
- Mies van der Rohe
- Tadao Ando
- Le Corbusier
- 00:00 · Introduction
- 01:14 · Writing
- 05:00 · Becoming an architect
- 06:21 · Frank's book
- 07:19 · Living in London
- 09:03 · Studying abroad in the US
- 13:37 · Childhood place
- 20:38 · Born with screens
- 23:39 · Design
- 27:42 · Place
- 33:41 · Good architecture
- 37:10 · Bad architecture
- 38:48 · Frank Gehry's middle finger
- 39:31 · Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See
- 43:47 · The best way to write
- 44:23 · The purpose of sketching
- 45:45 · Thanks
- 46:09 · Outro
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Theme song Sleep by Steve Combs under CC BY 4.0.