Your Mid-Century Modern Guide In and Around the Triangle

Your Mid-Century Modern Guide In and Around the Triangle

North Carolina boasts a high concentration of Mid-Century Modern architecture, particularly in its Triangle area. The architecture of the postwar era — growing from the late 1940s but declining by the ’70s — has enjoyed a resurgence of interest.

Maybe you know the names of the designers who gave us the Bubble lamp, Tulip table and Diamond Chair (answers: George Nelson, Eero Saarinen and Harry Bertoia). Or maybe you’re new to the style. But whatever the case, the Triangle has a wealth of Mid-Century Modern architecture to explore.

The Triangle’s Mid-Century Modern Private Residences

A 1959 home in Raleigh. Homeowner Joseph Amory restored his 1959 Raleigh home to reflect its original Mid-Century Modern design with its hallmark emphases on natural light and linear design. But if you want to see inside this gorgeous home and read its renovation story, visit Atomic Ranch.

Image courtesy of Pleiades Modern.

Durham’s Pleiades Modern neighborhood. Even though Mid-Century Modern refers to a historic era, that era’s design is a language that many still speak. Newly-built homes, such as Durham’s Pleiades neighborhood, for instance, speak the Mid-Century Modern language with open floor plans and an abundance of windows.

Image courtesy of Triangle House Hunter.

This expansive home in Chapel Hill. Wherever it might appear, Modernist design aims for harmony with its environment. For instance, this five-bedroom home on a wooded lot in Chapel Hill incorporates natural materials that mirror its surroundings. But you can find more here — skylights, large windows and a wraparound porch also give the home the indoor-outdoor connection which makes modern homes famous.

Just so you know, the pictured home is currently on the market. To see this and other modernist homes for sale in the Triangle, visit Triangle House Hunter.

The Triangle’s Mid-Century Modern Public Buildings

Dorton stadium Mid Century Modern NC
Image courtesy of Roadside Architecture.

The J.S. Dorton stadium. This building is an excellent example of Mid-Century Modern design. The stadium’s parabolic design showcases the era’s urge to rethink not just a building’s appearance and materials, but also the approach to the structure itself. Completed in 1952, the stadium’s design relies on the roof’s tension for structural support. Read more about the innovative mechanics of the design, but don’t forget that aesthetics always have their place in these buildings’ construction.

Paul Burroughs Wellcome Durham Mod Century Modern building
Image courtesy of PJ McDonnell.

Endangered: Paul Rudolph’s Burroughs Wellcome in Durham. Many preservation societies exist to preserve and celebrate the era’s design — and also to protest certain demolition notices.

Rudolph designed the 312,303 square foot building (completed in 1972) for the pharmaceutical company Burroughs Wellcome. Inside and out, the limestone aggregate material and hexagonal shape create a memorable structure.

Challenges with restoring the building led the current owners, United Therapeutics, to seek a demolition permit. In response, local preservation groups caught wind of this and then united to see if United Therapeutics might spare the building. Read more at Dezeen.

Want more resources?

If you are interested in learning more about Mid Century Modern near you, keep tabs on the North Carolina Modernist (because the organization has pages for Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and more locations).

Looking for a modernist staycation? Check out these 6 Modern Durham Hotels for Your Next Stylish Getaway.