One of last year’s Matsumoto Competition entries by architect Hunter Paul Coffey.
George Smart, Executive Director of Triangle Modernist Houses (TMH), has announced the 2013 George Matsumoto Prize to recognize excellence in recent single-family Modernist residential design in North Carolina. Submissions are being accepted starting today.
Now in its second year, the Prize is named for George Matsumoto, FAIA, a founding member of the NC State University School of Design faculty who is well known for the mid-century Modernist houses he designed in North Carolina.
The Matsumoto Prize is a unique design awards program. Unlike other programs, the Prize offers monetary rewards ($6000 total), online public voting along with a blue-ribbon professional jury, and this program focuses on the houses submitted rather than those who designed them: The houses, built since January 1, 2007, must be in North Carolina but the designers can be from anywhere and they do not have to be licensed architects or members of the American Institute of Architects. (In North Carolina, you do not have to be a licensed architect to design a private residence.)
The Matsumoto Prize is also transparent. All information submitted, including the designer’s name, will be published online and available to the jurors and the public. The public vote counts for one-sixth of the jury decision for the final award winners. The houses with the highest number of public votes will also receive special “People’s Choice” recognition. Public voting will begin on www.trianglemodernisthouses.com in early July and end July 20th.
Again this year, George Matsumoto will serve as the jury’s Honorary Chair. Also returning to the jury are: Frank Harmon, FAIA, (Chair) of Frank Harmon Architect PA, Raleigh; Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, of Marlon Blackwell Architect, Fayetteville, Arkansas; Tom Kundig, FAIA, of Olson Kundig Architects, Seattle, Washington; and Larry Scarpa, FAIA, of Brooks + Scarpa Architects, Los Angeles, California.
Triangle Modernist Houses is an award-winning, non-profit organization dedicated to documenting, preserving, and promoting Modernist residential design. According to George Smart, the objectives for the Matsumoto Prize are “to expand the public’s awareness about the great inventory of North Carolina Modernist houses, to showcase the skills of the North Carolina residential design community, and to inform the public that great design can be well within a homebuyer’s reach.”
“We hope these entries demonstrate to the public that Modernist design is affordable, efficient, sustainable, and most importantly, a house a family will love decades,” he added. “We also want potential homeowners to realize that, by using an architect or designer, they can have a great home for the same budget as an ordinary house.”
In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, hundreds of New Jersey residents stood watching in horror at the collapsing of the twin towers from Liberty State Park – west of the tip of lower Manhattan where the Hudson River and the Atlantic Ocean meet.
Photo by David Sundberg / esto. Image courtesy of Alexander Isley Inc.
To commemorate the loss of their loved ones, families of the New Jersey victims formed the New Jersey 9/11 Memorial Foundation and selected Liberty State Park as the site to pay tribute to their loss. Jessica Jamroz and Frederic Schwartz developed the memorial design, Empty Sky, with help from College of Design alumnus Alexander Isley ’83.
Photo by David Sundberg / esto. Image courtesy of Alexander Isley Inc.
Facing the twin towers site across the Hudson River, the Empty Sky consists of two parallel stainless steel walls, each 210 feet long by 30 feet high. A single row of 4- by 8-ft. stainless steel panels at eye level bears the names of the 476 New Jersey victims.
“This was emotionally a very difficult assignment to work on. Of course there are the formal decisions we had to make but it really came home when we pitched our vision to the clients – who in this case were families members of people who died that day,” Isley says.
Isley, who had moved to New York City in the 1980s after graduating from NC State, was tasked by Jamroz and Schwartz to help lead the design of the name listing and their engraving.
Image courtesy of Alexander Isley Inc.
Image courtesy of Alexander Isley Inc.
“I’ve always heard it takes a lot of effort to make something look effortless and this was no expectation,” Isley continued. “We wanted something that was clean, simple and easy to show up under different lighting conditions. We spent a lot of time considering options for fonts and ultimately chose ITC Bodoni 12. You think of it as being a sharp, angular font but when you blow it up to scale, it has some slight curves that made it stand out beautifully against the hard edges of the stainless steel panels.”
Image courtesy of Alexander Isley Inc.
The font also had to provide a good surface for etchings, as the team hoped loved ones would use charcoal and paper to rub out the names of the deceased for keepsakes.
“On the dedication day in September 2011, we saw lots of people doing rubbings of their loved ones names,” Isley shares. “It’s interesting in a lot of ways. You’ve been conditioned your whole life not to touch sculptures and pieces of art, but this was made to encourage people to interact with it and put their hands on it.
Trying to lay out the names in a way that graphically made sense was much like a math problem, explains Isley. Not only did they have to ensure that the names were evenly spaced and without being broken up, they also tried to honor requests of the victim’s families to group certain names together. What looks to be random, he says, is certainly not.
“It really works well when you see all names together. We decide on a 3.5’’ cap height, which we learned is the largest found in the world for names on a memorial. Names on memorials are usually 1’’ or 1.5’’ tall,” Isley says. “This structure had commanding architectural presence. We wanted the names to hold their own within this dramatic series of walls.”
But even with all the forethought that went into the planning behind selecting the steel material, choosing the font and the depth of the etching, something happened that the designers had not envisioned.
Photo by David Sundberg / esto. Image courtesy of Alexander Isley Inc.
“We have found during sunrise and sunset at certain times of the year, a halo effect is achieved by the way the sun reflects on the parallel panels, and it’s really quite beautiful,” Isley says. “It just goes to show as much as you try to plan for all situations and occurrences as a designer, sometimes a magical, happy accident can make your design that much better.”
Isley, who has had the opportunity to go back and visit the memorial himself on occasion, has been able to reflect on the project.
“The project was a very moving experience. Even with my admittedly small role as the graphic designer, I can’t think of a single thing I would have done differently,” Isley shares. “I remember as a student, a professor shared that if you can get through your whole career and have two things that you wouldn’t change, then that’s considered a success. And this is one of the projects where I can say I wouldn’t have changed a thing.”
Nearly two years ago when David Evans (BEDV 1984) decided to take on a project documenting the Sante Fe International Folk Art Market, he didn’t know he would meet extraordinary people like Janet Nkubana. Evans connected with Nkubana, an artist from Rwanda, who learned to weave traditional sisal baskets from her mother. During a hundred day period in 1994, close to one million men, women and children were brutally murdered from the conflicts between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes. After the Rwandan genocide, women from Janet’s village were left with little means of support with many widowed. Nkubana co-founded a weaving association which create the beautiful baskets that are sold at the market. Through Janet’s efforts to revive and expand the basket weaving tradition, women from both tribes worked together to create the “peace baskets” with their beautiful zigzag motif “representing friends walking side by side.” The creation of these baskets were not only a way to provide income to the widows but also an exercise in rebuilding and reconciliation in Rwanda.
Another amazing woman Evans came across was Rebecca Lolosoli, a traditional bead artist from Kenya, who founded a village called Umoja, where women and their children could be safe from the constant threat of rape, abuse, privation and death at the hands of foreign soldiers and their own husbands. She uses her earnings from selling colorful hand-strung beaded necklaces and bracelets to empower the women of her Samburu community to fight for their fundamental human rights and to provide them with food and basic services. Lolosoli’s earnings from the three-day market fed the women of Umoja for a year, and also provided fresh water and electricity.
A gateway for global artists
Approximately 135 artists from 49 different countries convened for three days in July at the Sante Fe International Art Market last year. Evans interviewed and photographed many of the artists who all had amazing stories of triumph in the face of adversity using globalization to uphold local traditions and empowering the impoverished. With so many stories to tell, what gripped Evans the most was a cooperative of raw silk weavers from the central highlands of Madgascar. With the help of a lone Peace Corps volunteer Natalie Mundy, the weavers learned how to access international markets and sent a representative to accompany Mundy to the Sante Fe Market with their goods. At the market they learned business skills from top retailers and merchandisers which help them sell their wares at the international art market, and to better organize their efforts at home.
In the highlands of central Madagascar
Rice fields and rural housing of central highlands. Photo courtesy of David Evans
Evans teamed up with Mundy and the weaver’s Federation Sahalandy – a group of seven weaving cooperatives representing 80 weavers in the area of Sandrandahy in Madgascar – to document their story, as told by the weavers themselves. They discovered that the production of a single exquisite raw silk scarf is a four-to-six week process and involves as many as 30 people. This laborious process involved everything from gathering the wild silkworm cocoons to spinning, dyeing, weaving and sewing the scarves. In an area where the average annual income is only a few hundred dollars, merely two days of sales can bring tens of thousands of dollars back to the community. This money is used to build houses, pay school fees for children, provide medical treatment and it transforms lives while keeping traditions alive.
Evans will return to Madagascar with his crew in August to document the traditional heritage of the people of Sandrandahy as they celebrate the memories of the dead. Evans will film the origins of the silk traditions, the “Turning of the Bones” ceremony honoring the deceased family members of the villagers through a multi-day celebration filled with eating, dancing and re-wrapping of the bodies in silk before they are placed back in their tomb.
Weaver preparing silk thread. Photo courtesy of David Evans
Continuing the dialogue
Mundy and one Sahalandy weaver will be back in Sante Fe to attend the market in July, and Evans and his crew will be there to capture the experience on film. They will also interview other artists from around the globe, with the goal to share the stories of many more artists and people like Mundy as they transform their own lives and those around them – by keeping the folk art tradition alive and thriving in a global marketplace.
Evans hopes to use this film as a pilot to help him source funding to tell the stories of traditional artists around the world. If you would like to inquire about contributing, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
“There is power in friendship. Friends working together is like a rock. If you separate, you become sand.” A Malagasy proverb recounted to Evans by Federation Sahalandy’s current president Filbertine.
Weaver Menja and Peace Corps volunteer Natalie react to Natalie
Award-winning Creative Director, Executive Producer and Photographer David Evans (BEDV 1984) gave the commencement speech for the spring graduating class of 2012 in Stewart Theatre on May 12, 2012. With a graduating class of nearly two hundred students, it is the largest graduating class in the history of the college.
Below is a transcript of his speech which he explains the importance of saying “yes” when the universe speaks to you about something you love and believe in.
Thank you, thank you so much.
What a privilege to share the stage with you again Dean Malecha. Thank you so much for this wonderful honor. It means the world to me that I’m still involved with the College of Design after all these years. My education here truly shaped my career and indeed my life.
And congratulations to all of you. I was sitting where you were once, so I know how hard you worked to get here. It’s such a pleasure to be here today to celebrate this milestone with you. It’s a big deal and you should all be wildly proud of yourselves. For many of us, this path chose us, not the other way around. We were called to it because we know at our core that there is deep substance in design. Sure, we swoon over couture, and we can get giddy about a new typeface…museums, cathedrals and skyscrapers can make our knees buckle in awe of their mass and materials.
But we also believe that there is power in what we do. That we leave behind the clues that history will know us by, and that we play a powerful role in shaping the contours of the future.
People live, eat, work, love, raise families, worship, study, celebrate and grieve in our buildings. They are informed by our layouts, by our websites, by our graphics, and they are entertained by our animations, and our films. They declare their identities by wearing the clothing we fashion for them, and they listen to music, climb mountains, and perform surgery using the products we create and improve upon.
You wield profound influence. You honestly can change the world. And with all the goings on here in North Carolina that have put the state in the spotlight this week, I’d say there’s never been a better time to roll up our sleeves and fight harder for justice through the ideals we embody.
Now, you’ve just received your diplomas. I’m sure a lot of you already have jobs lined up, or you’ve figured out a plan to get one. Some of you already have 5-year plans, 10-year plans. Some of you probably even have retirement plans. And that’s great. In fact, I’m blown away by so many of you who I’ve met and the plans you’ve told me you have. The world needs creative people in stable positions. No doubt about it.
But I imagine—in fact I really hope—there are some of you sitting here today with absolutely no plans whatsoever. (Parents, please save your jeers and rotten tomatoes for the end of the presentation…it gets worse).
Because I don’t believe that everyone needs a plan, or that having one is even the surest route to success. I’ve never had plan. I don’t have one now.
Don’t get me wrong. Not having a plan is not the same thing as not being prepared. And all of you have just checked that box; you’re incredibly prepared. And not having a plan is not the same thing as having no ambition, or not wanting to accomplish great things.
But not having a plan is one way to make yourself available when the universe whispers that it has something special for you, and it frees you up to say yes when the universe plots random dots on the map of your life that you may only connect years or decades later.
I’d like to share just a couple of stories of how not making plans and leaving myself available to say yes, plotted insanely random dots for me that I’m only now seeing the connections between.
I just got back from Madagascar a couple of weeks ago where I was directing a documentary. It may be the best project I’ll ever work on. And it’s all because I said yes, and moved to Venezuela in 1992. Say what? …Venezuela? …Madagascar? What’s the connection? Try to pay attention because this is a little hard to follow. And that’s kind of my point.
In 1992, I had a good start on a successful career as an art director in a big ad agency in Washington, DC., when I happened to see an employment ad in a trade magazine. It said “Come work in Venezuela.” I really didn’t even know where Venezuela was exactly, but something in me recognized that this ad was speaking to me, and only to me. I had no doubt that I would get that job, and that I would soon be in Venezuela, wherever that was. But I had no idea that this would also be the first in a long series of random dots that have connected to draw a beautiful, if zig-zagging map of my life so far.
My first visit to Venezuela after being offered that job didn’t turn out so well. I flew down to make sure I would like the place enough to accept the job. After I met my new colleagues in Caracas, I flew to the interior of the country to see if there was anything cool to photograph.
See, I already loved photography. And I had even dropped off my photo portfolio once at National Geographic a few years before. They returned my images with a note from the editor who had reviewed my work. I’ll paraphrase: “Dear David. You suck.” So I had let that dream go a long time ago, but it didn’t stop me from doing what I loved. I still took photographs and the potential to take photographs guided many of my decisions.
Anyway, while I was in the interior of Venezuela, I managed to get trapped behind rebel lines for a week during an attempted coup de tat. Burning buses, bodies in the street, I never knew if it was the good guys or the bad guys pointing their guns at me. It was just an awful mess. But you know? After things calmed down, I ended up accepting the job anyway. Something told me to make myself available, that the risk could be worth the reward. So I said yes. Everyone I knew thought I was insane and I couldn’t really argue with them.
I went to Caracas on a one-year contract as creative director for a large agency. I ending up staying for three years. I met Max, a famous Venezuelan architect who became my friend, and he introduced me to the Andes and to the ancient farmhouse he was renovating high up in a cloud forest. His adobe house and primitive folk art collection turned everything I thought I knew about aesthetics on its head. Little did I know how much else it would change for me.
As I was about to leave Venezuela, Max said, “¿Sabes que, David? There is a small property for sale just down the mountain. It has a couple of mud shacks on it. If you bought it, I would design and manage the renovation for you as a favor.” Now it’s a much longer story than that how I came to own the property, and it was probably owing at least partly to the altitude and maybe a little bit to the moonshine we were sipping, but I was pretty sure I heard something whispering to me that I should keep myself available, that I should take this risk. So I said, “yes.”
So now it’s 1996, and I’m back in DC freelancing as a graphic designer to pay for the renovation of my mud shacks in the Venezuelan Andes, where I would disappear to for weeks, collecting folk art like a man possessed, and taking photographs.
Back in DC, I was designing a brochure for National Geographic Television and they offered me a position running their design department.
Now, for all I’ve just said to you about saying yes, I didn’t hear the universe whispering to me this time and I said no. And I said no twice. And I said no a third time. It’s not that I was such a hotshot that I could turn my nose up at a place like National Geographic. But like I told the executive offering me the job, “the truth is Kathie, I have a house in Venezuela, and right now I’m committed to collecting folk art and taking photographs while I finish the renovations.
“You’re a photographer?” she asked. You have a home in the Andes?” Well, the truth was I had exactly one published photograph…in the 1983 Windhover at NC State. And my “home in the Andes” was more of a construction site infested with scorpions, but “well, yeah,” I said, “more or less, I, um, I guess that’s mostly sort of correct…sure.” She took some of my photos with her and came back with an offer that included plenty of vacation time for me to travel, and also to put me in charge of their photography department. I didn’t hear any whispering this time, it was more like a scream. And I didn’t just say yes, but “WHOA! Yes!”
That job led to all kinds of experiences. I helped launch an international cable television network, and since I was the boss of the photo department, I gave myself photography assignments all over the world. My second published photograph? It was in National Geographic Magazine.
We’ll get to Madagascar soon, I promise. I told you it was complicated.
I left National Geographic after 6 years, but I continued my relationship with them. My work with National Geographic got my photographs a lot of attention. So I decided to give up graphic design and just pursue photography. I’d recaptured my first dream of being a photographer because I’d never given up my love of photography even though I’d been doing other things to make money.
If you hold onto the thing you love and find ways to make it important sometimes good things can happen.
Of course, that also means taking risks. And not just the kind that mean getting shot at in strange countries. Giving up graphic design, which had been my bread and butter involved a risk. But somehow I knew that now was the time to go all-in on photography. Doing that was scary because I had no idea what would happen, but it also seemed exactly the right thing.
So being available to say yes when the universe whispers also means being willing to take risks. But if all of you weren’t already risk takers, you wouldn’t be here in the first place. After all design isn’t the safest career choice you could have made.
Here’s something else. Being open when the universe whispers also means being open to making new friends. Friends are also part of the story because they will often help you in unexpected ways. But making friends is different from networking, which is purposeful and plan-driven. Making friends is random and meaningful on its own.
So here’s how a random dot led to a random friend of mine. Because I had a house in Venezuela, a colleague at National Geographic recommended me to his former boss Jimmy Carter, to be an election monitor for The Carter Center during elections in Venezuela. That led to another election mission with President Carter in Ethiopia. And because I’d been to Ethiopia, National Geographic sent me on a photo assignment to central Africa. It was there that I met Lindy, a videographer traveling with the expedition. During the month we worked together, camping in the Sahara, he mainly just yelled at me; “Hey photo guy, get the hell out of my shot!” He and I would eventually work together on lots of assignments all over the world and he’s become a good friend. Remember Lindy; he comes up again in a second.
Another random dot and another friend: I was photographing a cooking show being filmed in a private home in Washington, when I met and became friends with the home’s owner, Dan, who had just started his new position at The United Nations Foundation.
Because of my background with National Geographic Television, and my experience in Africa, the United Nations Foundation asked me to produce some video about fighting child marriage in Ethiopia. I had never really produced a video quite like this one, and I could end up looking pretty stupid if it didn’t go well. But sure…I heard that whispering again. And I said “Yes, I’ll take that risk.”
When I went to Ethiopia to produce that video, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria was holding their board meeting in the same hotel where I was staying in Addis Ababa. The elevator door opened and there stood Dan from United Nations Foundation and Todd, who I knew from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Turns out, both he and Dan sat on the board of The Global Fund. The next day, I learned they wanted to create and fund a new “Storytelling Committee,” and asked me to direct a video about their work. It would be a risky adventure visiting AIDS, TB and malaria clinics in prisons, slums, and houses of prostitution in some of the poorest places on earth, and it would consume the better part of a year to finish it. But I heard that whisper again and I said “Yes. I’ll do it.”
There’s so much more to that story too, but we’ve all got someplace to be, so I’m going to try and wrap this up.
The film focused on the empowerment of the underserved, especially empowering women, and the film was a tool that helped The Global Fund raise billions of dollars, which in turn helped them save millions of lives. It also won a bunch of awards, which is also pretty gratifying. So no, I’m not all about noble causes…I really like awards, too. I admit it.
But causes are important, of course. It goes back to that idea of using our designs and our art to make a difference. And in fact when the universe whispers to people like us, one reason I think we listen is because the whisper also connects us with our values, with the things we believe in.
One final random dot: A friend from my now-distant days at National Geographic introduced me to someone looking for a documentary film director. The subject was about how global markets for folk artists are empower women in the developing world.
Folk art. Empowering women. In the developing world.
Now, I may not be the only person with that very specific set of experiences, but I don’t think there can be many of us. The project had my name on it, and 18 months after that conversation, Lindy and I were off to Madagascar to make a film about folk art silk weavers. We hope to use this film as a pilot to raise funds for a 3-year project about folk artists all over the world.
So, let’s connect these random dots: Moving to Venezuela in 1992 led me to collect folk art, and it got me a job at National Geographic Television. Working at National Geographic Television allowed me to fulfill my dream of being a photographer and introduced me to filmmaking. It also connected me with Bill & Melinda Gates, the United Nations Foundation, The Carter Center, and The Global Fund. All of which combined to get me an amazing assignment in Madagascar doing a film about folk art, something I really love, and which may end up being the most important project I’ll ever do.
No plan in the world could have resulted in all of this.
But wait, the random dots are still connecting, and a pretty important connection was made just a couple of days ago.
Remember Lindy?, who I met in central Africa and who was with me a couple of weeks ago in Madagascar? While we were traveling together last year on a project—I can’t remember if we were in Germany, Brazil, or Japan–I told him about my husband Sam’s hearing impairment, and how we were having trouble getting insurance to pay for expensive cochlear implant surgery. Lindy says, “Dude, call my brother, he’s one of the nation’s foremost cochlear implant surgeons and he might be able to help.” Sam and I met with Lindy’s brother in New York two days ago, and Sam is now scheduled to receive his implant10 days from now, all paid for by his insurance. All because I listened when the universe whispered to me and I said yes, and moved to Venezuela in 1992.
So that’s it. Make a plan if that’s what makes you comfortable. But if you don’t have a plan, don’t worry, just make yourself available, and try to hear the universe when it speaks to you, especially about things you love and believe in. And then always…always, say “YES.”