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Reframing Charlotte: A Challenge

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Charlotte historically has been architecturally dominated by Craftsman Bungalow and Colonial Revival homes, but they weren’t created in, nor are they limited to, the region.

This was pointed out recently by Debra Campbell, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg planning director, during a speech she gave upon receiving the Real Estate Person of the Year award at a December luncheon of Charlotte’s Commercial Real Estate Women.

Campbell lamented that homebuilders will often come to her, plans in hand, and describe their vision for “Charleston-style” houses or some other such designs.

What she’d like to see proposed, she said, is a Charlotte-style house, something that draws on and reflects the region historically and culturally.

We’d like to see that too.

Campbell’s comments got us thinking. Architecture arises from a number of influences and ideas, some practical, some evolutionary and some whimsical.

What are the available raw materials? What is the climate like? How do the residents live their lives? How would it fit in with its surroundings? What’s the layout of the land? How does it serve and represent a region’s culture and history?

That’s the challenge we are throwing out to architects.  Design a modern Charlotte house, drawing on the past and present with an eye to the future. And tell us why you make the decisions you make.

With the technical expertise and input of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Charlotte, we’ve come up with the following parameters for registered architects, who may partner with builders and designers:

You are designing a suburban home for an active, dual-income family of five, on a 0.33 acre level lot with a 30-foot setback in a community with sidewalks and a clubhouse and recreational facilities. Your budget, not including the purchase and development of the land, is $300,000.

Your presentation, along with an explanation of how decisions were made reflecting the history, geography, culture, weather, raw materials, etc. of the Charlotte region, should include:

  • A site plan with the house on the lot, and an explanation of how the lot works.
  • Elevations
  • Floor plans
  • At least one section of the interior
  • A 3-D digital model or hand rendering
  • A perspective

Those who wish to share their vision should notify AIA Charlotte by March 7 of their intent to enter a submission (aiacharlotte.org). The final product will be due by March 28 to AIA, after which the general public and a professional panel will vote to choose the house they think best represents the region. The entries will be displayed on The Mecklenburg Times website, mecktimes.com, along with the architect’s explanation and biographical information and, depending upon the number of entries, will also be presented in the print edition.

We look forward to seeing your ideas! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me at Sharon.roberts@mecktimes.com or 704-247-2910.


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