Artists' Studio
Piedmont, North Carolina
Frank Harmon and Quan Banh

The clients are two artists who needed a place where they could both work and live. Yet they needed two separate studios to accommodate their very different working methods. She restores carousels, likes bright light and company while she works, and listens to the radio. He is a painter, prefers to work alone in northern light, and listens to modern jazz while he works.

The site is a rural hillside near a river. Our challenge was to use economical materials to create a studio that evokes the simple grace of traditional farm buildings in the area. To that end, we designed the structure on a simple unit system of four feet so that there would be little waste of materials. A one-inch by two-inch batten marks each four-foot unit over plywood and translucent glazing, creating a pleasant structural rhythm. To accommodate the disparate needs of the artists, we created two double-height studios—one facing south for her, the other facing north for him—separated by a shared woodworking area. The couple’s apartment is situated above with balconies overlooking the studios and windows facing the river. A large porch doubles as an outdoor work area and loading dock. To keep costs low and to enjoy the actual process of construction, one of the artists framed the house and finished much of it himself.

1997 AIA NC Merit Award
1998 Architectural Record Magazine "Record Houses"