It’s Time to Vote for the Matsumoto Prize

For anyone who’s yet to vote in the 2018 Matsumoto Prize “People’s Choice” awards, now’s the time.

They’ll be in good company. Those judging the other, cash-rich Matsumoto category – the one bearing $3,500 in prize money – are a veritable Who’s Who from the nation’s architecture community.

There’s Deborah Berke, dean of the Yale School of Architecture; Alexandra Lange, the New York-based architecture critic and author; Phil Freelon of the Durham office of Perkins+Will; Susan Saarinen, daughter of Eero Saarinen and modernist in her own right; Harry Wolf of Wolf Architecture; Edward Lalonde from Olson Kundig Architects; and Joel Turkel of Turkel Design.

Now in its seventh year, the Matsumoto Prize is a Carolina-based architectural competition with legs. The “People’s Choice” award has generated as many as 2,000 votes annually – and it’s growing. “It’s more popular than ever,” says George Smart, executive director of North Carolina Modernist Houses, sponsor of the program. “It’s fueled by a huge boom in modern design and retro furniture.”

The prize was initiated to honor George Matsumoto, the California-based modernist who once taught at N.C. State’s School of Design in Raleigh. He practiced there, too, back when mid-century modernism was taking its rebellious, minimalist stand across North Carolina. An award-winner in his day, his star had begun to fade by 2012.

But Smart picked up the architect’s banner. “He was alive at the time of the first competition, and had been retired for a long time – and nothing had been set up in his honor,” he says.

Not anymore. Matsumoto may be no longer with us, but his legacy is alive, largely because of Smart’s initiative.

And there’s the bigger picture: “The main goal is to get modernism out there in the minds of architects and people across the state,” Smart says. “The intent is to help people recognize what a great state North Carolina is for modernism, and to encourage young architects to continue practicing this style into the future.”

Sixteen firms entered this year, with projects from Asheville in the mountains to Wilmington on the coast, and in the Piedmont from Greenville to Raleigh and Durham. Among them are Raleigh’s in situ studio, Durham’s Phil Stostak, Wilmington’s Michael Kersting and Asheville’s Russ Nicholson.

Voting is a breeze. Participants simply click the button here, to be taken to a site where they can register and vote by entering an email address.

But they’ll want to hurry: Voting ends on Monday, July 2, with winners announced on July 26.

For more, go here.

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