For a modern house in Hillsborough, North Carolina

November 20, 2012 (Raleigh NC) – Tonic Design + Tonic Construction, an award-winning design/build firm in Raleigh, NC, has received a Merit Award from the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA NC) for its design and construction of the “Crabill Modern” house in Hillsborough, NC.
It was the only residential project to win an AIA NC design award this year.
This simple, modern home is located in a clearing amidst a lush, five-acre forest. The Crabills wanted the house to disturb the natural environment as little as possible and to accommodate local wildlife.
“They also wanted a unique live-work house that provides interesting spatial overlaps,” said project designer Katherine Hogan, who co-owns of Tonic Design + Tonic Construction with her husband, designer Vinny Petraca. “And they wanted it to be constructed in a simple and cost-effective way.”
The house is sited to avoid disturbing the environment, to maximize natural lighting and ventilation, and to frame views of forest, including a three-trunked tree.
To reflect the rural setting, the design references regional agricultural structures yet renders them in a modern composition using simple, inexpensive materials. Recalling old farm sheds, the house’s skewed cubic form is clad in solid and perforated COR-TEN®, a steel alloy developed to eliminate the need for painting. The steel forms a stable rust-like appearance when exposed to the weather. As a result, the house will be a constantly evolving element in the landscape as a rich patina develops over the years. The COR-TEN also acts as a rain screen, canopy, sunshade, and visual screen.
Spray foam insulation, tightly sealed ducts, low-e glazed windows, and Energy Star® appliances contribute to the home’s energy conservation. Despite the fact that their new house is 800 feet larger than their previous house, the Crabills report that their energy bills are, on average, 30 percent lower.
The first floor includes the entry, a spacious kitchen/living/dining room, a studio/music space, and two decks. The second floor includes the master bedroom suite and two bedrooms for the Crabills’ children, who share an extra loft space and bath.
Tonic Construction completed the house for $155 per square foot, due in large part to the design/build process and the creative use of materials.
The annual AIA NC Design Awards celebrate the achievements of architects and designers across the state and recognize a select group of diverse projects that distinguish themselves both in response to their clients’ needs and design excellence. For more information, visit
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