NCSU Adjunct Faculty Member Vincent Petrarca Receives ACSA Faculty Design Award

For a Modernist house designed and built by his firm Tonic Design +
Tonic Design + Tonic Construction

Vincent Petrarca

Tonic Construction


Vincent Petrarca, an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Architecture at North Carolina State University’s College of Design and a founding partner of the Raleigh, NC-based design/build firm Tonic Design + Tonic Construction, has received a prestigious 2013-2014 Faculty Design Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) for his design of “Crabill Modern,” a Modernist, single-family house in Hillsborough, N.C.


Each year, the ACSA honors architectural educators for exemplary work in areas such as building design, community collaborations, scholarship, and service. 


The ASCA’s Faculty Design Awards honor built work that “advances the reflective nature of practice and teaching by recognizing and encouraging outstanding work in architecture and related environmental design fields as a critical endeavor,” according to the ACSA. Winning professors “inspire and challenge students, contribute to the profession’s knowledge base, and extend their work beyond the borders of academy into practice and the public sector.”


Petrarca explained the evolution of Crabill Modern’s award-winning design:


“We began with the most efficient and economical plan form: a rectangle with plan functions divided into quadrants. We then challenged and re-envisioned the box based on the patterns of use and lifestyle of the family. These transformations created a plan where the more important spaces grew larger. These moves began to push and pull the building’s protective skin, creating dynamic elevations. The resulting form was a simple box, protected and augmented by an inexpensive but highly articulated shell.”


That shell reflects the rural setting: Petrarca specified simple, inexpensive materials and references to regional agricultural structures that would be rendered in a modern architecture composition. Recalling old farm sheds, the house’s skewed cubic form is clad in solid and perforated COR-TEN®, a steel alloy that eliminates the need for painting. The steel forms a stable rust-like appearance as it weathers. 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.


Petrarca included a variety of energy conservation principles in the Crabill home. Consequently, the owners report that, even though this house is 800 feet larger than their previous home, their energy bills average 30 percent less.


Tonic Construction completed the home for $155 per square foot due in large part, Petrarca says, to the design/build process and readily available materials, including oak.


Vincent Petrara will receive the Faculty Design Award during the ASCA’s 102nd Annual Meeting, to be held in Miami Beach April 10-12, hosted by Florida International University.


For more information on the ASCA and the Educational Awards Program, visit


For more information on Vincent Petrarca and his firm, visit