A bumper crop of entries for the 2020 Matsumoto Prize – 21 in all – adds up the most ever since the modernist competition was established in 2012.
There are two good reasons for that, says George Smart, executive director of N.C. Modernist Houses, which sponsors the competition.
“There was a lull last year because a lot of houses were not finished by this time last summer,” he says.” And we lowered entry fee because we have a sponsor, Nichiha, a Japanese manufacturer of fiber cement.”
That enabled some firms, like Tonic Design and newcomer Calico Studio, to enter two projects. Calico’s not the only first-timer to enter this year. It’s joined by Jose Lopez of Habenero Architecture in Raleigh, Point Office in Atlanta, Arielle Schechter in Chapel Hill, Cory Thompson of 2×4 Design in Wilmington, Walter Davis of Davis Kane Architects in Raleigh, and Assembly Architecture + Build in Asheville.
That means residential projects that stretch from Figure Eight Island off the coast of Carolina to Asheville in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Besides their modern design, these homes share another common trait. “A lot are on very small lots so they’re infill projects which is important,” he says. “A modest house was one of the goals of the modern movement as it started here – architects wanted to find affordable residences for their clients.”
Between 2,000 and 5,000 votes are usually cast in the competition’s popular voting. And the jury this year is as distinguished as ever. It includes Toshiko Mori, Barbara Bestor, Stella Betts, Annabelle Selldorf, Hugh Kaptur, Alan Hess, and Harry Wolf.
During a time of uncertain economic conditions, the competition is a clarion call for North Carolina modernists. “We want to keep young architects and clients motivated to continue with modernism in this state,” he says. “People have always thought of it as a big risk, so we offer support and recognition for these architects and for this state’s legacy of great design.”
Voting has already begun and will run through July 1 at 5 PM EDT. Awards are scheduled for July 23.
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