2009 Paul E. Buchanan Award Winner

Triangle Modernist Houses

Members of Triangle Modernist Archive, Inc.
Members of Triangle Modernist Archive, Inc.

Initiated by the Vernacular Architecture Forum in 1993 to recognize non-published projects that make significant contributions to our understanding of vernacular architecture through fieldwork and interpretation, this award honors Paul E. Buchanan of Williamsburg, VA. As the Director of Architectural Research at Colonial Williamsburg for over thirty years, Buchanan set the standard for architectural fieldwork in America. He inspired many VAF members towards carefully conducted and accurate field measurement and building analysis.

This year’s recipient of the Buchanan Award is Triangle Modernist Archive, Inc. (TMA), for Triangle Modernist Houses (TMH) its extensive online archive cataloguing, preserving, and promoting modernist residential design in the Triangle area of North Carolina. TMA, under the leadership of director George M. Smart, Jr., is a relative newcomer to the field of historic preservation and perhaps an unlikely choice for the Buchanan Award. The committee was impressed with its grass roots, web-based approach to gathering and sharing information on the wide range of modernist houses in the region. The TMH online archive has grown quickly to be a clearinghouse for information about the local modernist vernacular for enthusiasts, homeowners, and scholars.

In this year’s field of high quality award nominees, the THM archive stood out for using a broad populist approach to meet the preservation challenges of once fashionable houses threatened with demolition or drastic alteration. The committee appreciated the role that this project plays in the continually evolving conversation about what is worth documenting and preserving. As the THM archive continues to grow and evolve, the committee hopes that the attention to the stories behind the modern vernacular of this region can help encourage preservation of endangered mid-century residential vernacular in other parts of the country. The committee is pleased to award the 2009 Buchanan Award to Triangle Modernist Archive.

2009 Buchanan Award Committee:
Lisa Davidson, Chair
Tim Davis
Kathryn Merlino

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