Episode 67
Frank Harmon — Writing, Drawing, and Sense of Place.
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.
July 29, 2022
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46 min
0:00 / 46:24

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Episode Notes

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.


Favorite quotes

  • “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

Books

Links

People mentioned

Chapters

  • 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.