Category Archives: B&Onus material

studio happenings….

TMH Matsumoto Prize/Modern House vote!!

If you’re like us, you like modern design & except for Dwell & certain other few foreign shelter magazines- there aren’t many places for good, inspiring products, information & photos.  Triangle Modernist Houses, a Durham based group, founded by George Smart- a great advocate for modernism in all forms is one of

Front/exterior from west

them.  (

This summer they are sponsoring a modern home competition for North Carolina residences called the Matsumoto Prize, named for a beloved NC State arch. professor & modernist.   B + O design studio has entered a recently completed project, the Althea Way House, in the program.

Great room/kitchen/dining

If you have some time, review the 19 entries which cover a wide gamut of modern architectural solutions all over the state.  Passive homes, vacation retreats, towers, courtyards, and cantilevers galore!!!  You can vote online from 7/8 to 7/22/12, and add your voice to that of a nationwide panel of six architects from LA to DC.  There is an event in early August at the new NC/CfAD building to celebrate the entries & the winners!

We’re very happy with our project; a couryard home for a young family of five.   The client’s expressed their desire for a clean, open, warm industrial space for living- like a loft in the suburbs!!  We designed a U-shaped plan w/ a great room topped by bedrooms flanked by 2 one-story ‘wings’; one a garage/carport w/ roof deck/garden & the other a master suite.  Sustainability & authenticity were key words; with the palette of materials, lighting, the shaping of air/water/light, and details throughout.  Kudos to our team, especially ILM design/build, Bill Christopher was awesome to see through the client’s vision for a wonderful family home.

Collage of details


Stopping ‘Dumb Growth’

Cape Fear Economic Development Council [CFEDC] hosted noted ex-mayor of Milwaukee, author/ educator, and New Urbanist advocate John Norquist for 2 days last week, May 19 & 20.  The enduring theme of the luncheon presentation and multiple breakout and work sessions was ‘adding value’ to our cities.  While ambiguous at first, one can interpret this phrase in a multitude of ways so that as Mr. Norquist noted;  conservatives and liberals, old and young, cat people and dog lovers, can all agree that the developments proposed add this inherent ‘value’ to the city/region.   It is often called ‘smart growth’ or a remixing of the urban fabric that pushes for restructuring codes & land use in America.  Single-use zoning, as most of SE North Carolina is, is now seen as an out-moded strategy, one that has created all the ‘sprawl’, that most Americans say they don’t like.  [Norquist also quipped that they don’t like ‘density’ so what’s the in-between, or answer?]

The next day the Star-News had this story in the Local page.

‘Rezonings pave the way for nearly 6,000 homes’

What if we rewrote this headline as it should be;  ‘Navassa plans for 12K Northerners to Relocate in Brunswick Co.’,  ‘Town Envisions 65% of its area to be paved in 30 years’, ‘Northeast Brunswick County;  Cary without the parks, planning or conservation’.

Other headlines in the month of May add to this lack of vision & conventional approach to growth. ‘Lane to be added from bridge to Leland’        ‘I-140 Wilmington Bypass interstate extension work to begin soon’

Thankfully(?), we will have that bypass by 2018, so that everyone from Jacksonville & points north and east won’t have to go through Wilmington on their way to Myrtle Beach, except stop at a new Scotchmen store off ‘the loop’ or maybe hit a new outlet mall or strip center or umpteenth Bojangles.

He also talked about ‘congestion’, drawing a metaphor to cholesterol, in that there is both a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ component to congestion.  Merchants & restaurant owners on Front St. downtown or Main St. in Mayfaire don’t mind the back-ups that traffic exhibit in being a desirable destination, and a place that has more to offer than copious stripped asphalt & a big glowing box signs of College Road, Oleander or US17.  However, our area is being drowned in new highways, overpasses, turnlanes, ‘michigan lefts’, and other engineering feats to combat ‘congestion’ and allow all the exurban & suburbanites here to get from home to work to store to mall to home, without walking or even slowing to 25 for that matter.  Just like our waistbands and garages, America is truly obese on the legacy of cheap gas, fast food & shitty development, and it has to stop if we are to have any quality of life in the future.

If we have learned nothing from the recent events along the Mississippi, Gulf Coast, and the ‘sustainability mecca’ of Greensburg, Kansas (obliterated by tornados and rebuilding itself as the ‘greenest town in America’),  we are taking advantage of our land and its inherent strengths and qualities which we are quickly erasing.  That essence & potential which drew all of us here in the last decade or century; whether by boat, train or the dreaded I-40 extension from Raleigh is eroding.   It’s called ‘sense of place’ and most Wilmingtonians cite it as a key factor of why they moved here- but from recent history and future efforts, that will soon be the tiny, sweet filling in a hard candy shell of garbage, concrete & unsightly sprawl.

Modern Native

Front/entry- 'before'

Progress is being made on this mid-century modern landscape renovation… from a jungle of invasive plants (wisteria, chinese tallow, and chinese privet, among others) back to a modernized version of the original.  Native deciduous azaleas, virginia sweetspire, red buckeye, horsetail, and lots of other interesting SE NC natives are being planted, as well as a few non-invasive drought tolerant ornamental species near the patios.  Artful drainage work (bioretention areas, pervious concrete, copper scuppers!) and a new fountain are also mostly complete – more pictures soon!

This is a Sustainable Design Collaborative rehab project – B+O provided landscape architecture/drainage design services as part of energy/water-use-efficiency upgrades to the house and site.  Other work includes photovoltaics, a geothermal energy system, and envelope/roof drainage/crawl space improvements.  Many thanks to our wonderful clients, and to Jay Dechesere, ILM Design-Build, and Mott Landscaping.





Happy Earth Day!!

Even though the economy is still kind of in the crapper, we have a lot to be thankful for this 40th Earth Day- 2010.  Here’s a list of things we’re excited about this day to be ‘green’. (although everyone should be more ‘green’ 365 days a year….)

Original Earth Week logo from 1970!!

1)  Local celebration @ MacRae Park- bigger & better than ever.  Lots of people, events, information & music.  Thanks to all those who had displays and/or gave time to organize.  It was a great event (weather didn’t hurt either).

2) Energy-star appliances!  Get some of that stimulus $$.  If you have an old refrigerator (biggest electricity hog of them all), or other appliance past it’s prime take advantage of the store savings & rebates in NC through Sunday. 

3) CFEDC & Green Jobs- this new local economic development group is working hard to promote the green/cleantech economy in the Cape Fear area.  Meeting tomorrow night 4/23 @ 5.30 pm- 27 Front St./2nd floor  (new BuenaSpace).  Come see what all the talk is about….

4) Midori-all zoning approvals!  New modern, urban, green townhomes soon to be popping up on 29th St. off Market Street….

5) Native Azaleas are in bloom and no, they are not those fuschia ones!! White & fragrant!

6) Thomas Friedman & Paul Krugman.  No thought-leaders in the mainstream are doing as much for ‘green business’ and the 21st cent. economy.  If you haven’t read either of Friedman’s  ‘Flat’ books, get them, or check out Krugman’s most recent NYTimes Sunday mag piece on Building the Green Economy.

7) Shoulder seasons.  Yes the pollen’s been off the chart for the last 2 weeks, but now’s the time to enjoy the relative lack of humidity & crisp nights of coastal NC.  Enjoy it now- bugs, storms & heat will be here soon enough.

An ‘ideal’ retrofit….

Well, one more week for comments on the DAQ Titan Draft Air Permit (or as we like to call it- Corporate Rubber-stamped Air Permit, or C.R.A.P.).  After 10/20- we’ve had a good month publicizing our ‘counterproposal’  for what a truly positive program and progressive, appropriate re-use of the proposed cement plant property could become.

We’ve been working with Cape Fear River Watch over the summer,  and presented this initial booklet/study to its members annual meeting @ CityStage.  The base assumption is that 160 jobs on an over 1800 acre parcel is a ridiculous economic model- and a different program would work on the economic, cultural & environmental front much better.

First 4 slides of booklet

The study looks at a few key variables including jobs & population with a graphic analysis of areas & land owners/employers in New Hanover County.  We also threw out 4 basic ‘program’ platforms to replace ‘cement manufacturing’ as the sole job generator.  They were conceived of as follows;  ‘Green Inclubator’, ‘Art Park’, ‘Eco-Resort’, and an ‘Energy Farm.  As a totality, this Cape Fear ‘Eco-energy-commerce-art-park’- would be a driver for all of northeastern New Hanover County to embrace.

We look forward to developing the proposal more and taking it to new levels and new groups, as the lack of environmental review on the CCC project now catches up with and slows/stops, what is a hugely flawed project.  This alternative ‘green’ vision for the Ideal site would be a fabulous ‘gateway off I-40 as well as a draw along Holly Shelter road as Castle Hayne links across I-40 to Hampstead/US17 & the Atlantic.   More later!!!


Dark times call for bright ideas…

Letter to Editor or Community Voices @ Star-News

October 22, 2009

Dear Editor and Readers,

The public forums held by NC Division of Air Quality concerning the draft air permit received by Titan Cement are over.  Our community had its last opportunity to communicate our concerns regarding the pending arrival of Wilmington’s new bragging rights, the “4th Largest Cement Plant in the US!”  How can ANYONE who thinks about the future of our region find this to be something worth celebrating?  During the forum, we heard from both sides.  We heard nostalgic, heart-warming stories from former Ideal Cement plant workers, and we also heard scary statistics from scientists and doctors, who clearly understand the consequences of this rush to spend $4 million of our tax dollars for 160 (“mostly, but maybe not all local”) jobs, which will not be in place until 2014 by the way.  Please, those of you who are thinking only of the jobs, please think about the exchange we are making.  Don’t you think that we could find a better use for both $4 million in incentives, AND the giant site that Titan is posed to destroy?  If you are embarrassed to be a ‘NIMBY,’ here are a few things to consider.

We all know that right now, cement is necessary for concrete, which is a valuable COMMODITY. It is one of the basic components of human shelter and transportation infrastructure.  We also know that as lower Cape Fear residents, we live in a very unique place –  for reasons that are geological, biological, historical, and cultural.  Why do we have such powerful affection for this place?  It’s the amazing live oaks draped with Spanish moss, the vibrant historic downtown, and the sound of water on a boat hull, the remaining stands of longleaf pine, and bragging rights to incredible oysters, and the Venus flytrap.  We love this area for its amazing arts community, and public activism.  People stay for generations for these reasons, and people move here for these reasons. It’s a welcoming place, small enough here that we can all have a voice, we can all participate in our future, if we just pay attention.

Titan will be removing extraordinary quantities of limestone to make cement.  Limestone is a NON-RENEWABLE resource.  That means that once we use it, we do not get it back, unless you consider more paved surfaces and lining the pockets of out-of-the-country investors as a fair return.  What value, what ecosystem service, does limestone provide while it remains in the ground?  It’s our primary source of clean water.  The science is far more complex, but at a very basic level, the limestone that forms the basis for our unique geography is like an aquarium filter, a major component of a very complicated life support system.  For spiritual people, this ecosystem service is something that has intrinsic value because it keeps us all alive, and we cannot ourselves recreate it in its entirety, we can only mimic its function with technology.

Once the limestone is removed, it is ‘processed’ to create cement.  This process involves coal-burning, as well as incineration of other toxic substances (including tires!) that will produce mercury, and a host of other byproducts which offer no benefit to anyone.  The products of this incineration become airborne, entering our lungs, and the lungs and eventually, the gills, and skin of every other living creature within breathing range of the output, which can change with prevailing winds, precipitation, and even our development patterns. (here’s a reminder to think where we choose to put schools.)  Mercury is one of the most potent neurotoxins – that means it KILLS brain cells, and there is simply NO fraction of an amount that could be considered harmless.   Where do these airborne particles go…?

Next, let’s revisit a large part our tax-funded 3rd grade science curriculum, the Hydrologic (Water) Cycle.  In this more or less continuous process, the sun heats up oceans and water bodies, which evaporate to become vapor.  Plants contribute to this airborne vapor via evapotranspiration. Water stored in the atmosphere eventually condenses, and then precipitates as rain, or snow, bringing along lots of other solid airborne particulates.  Some of that falls in the oceans, and some of it falls on land, where it infiltrates, recharging our aquifers, the excess becoming runoff to water bodies.  Air contains water, and water contains air.  If something is being burned, that smoke does not just ‘go away.’  It comes back –  both the poisonous parts, and the less poisonous parts.  If it does not enter our lungs directly via the air we breathe, it finds us in the water we drink, and the fish we consume.

Now, let’s go back to our local economy, which is struggling to survive.  Titan is offering 160 jobs for ~1868 acres.  Anyone just a little concerned about this math? If we were to look at it differently, the area of the Titan site could contain….58 Screen Gems, or 4 Mayfaires, or 2.5 UNCW campuses, or 2 Wilmington downtowns.  How many jobs do these areas provide?

Hopefully, if you have not really thought about this before, you are starting to notice a trend.  It’s hard to talk about these ideas in isolation. (which is what the draft air permit allows, by the way.)  All of these things are connected.  Titan is attempting to build a facility here that offers incredibly large negatives in exchange for 160 ‘full-time’ jobs, and perhaps 2000 temporary construction jobs.

Nature, what little of it we have left here, keeps residents, and draws visitors. Even when left alone, the undisturbed portion of the Titan site has VALUE.  It keeps us alive, it provides habitat, it provides recreational opportunities.  The site is MORE than the horizontal surface land boundaries – the area that Titan will consume is also vertical.  It includes the air that is far above ground, and the water and limestone that are far below ground.

Is poisoning our air and water, and removing our life support system good for this region?  Have 5 county commissioners been fair and wise in their closed-door choice of the future of Wilmington, and the lower Cape Fear region?  Come on everyone, we have SO many creative people here.   Can’t we think of something better for $4 million in tax incentives, and for those +1800 WATERFRONT acres? Something that provides far more than 160 jobs?

Please don’t allow Titan to determine our future. Everyone should agree that a smokestack does not make a good welcome sign.

Let’s be VISIONARY. Let’s think of something better!

Lara Berkley

New Hibachi Bistro

B + O congratulates Hibachi Bistro on the opening of their latest location, in Monkey Junction!  B + O assisted the owners with the upfit of the 3400 SF space in the Myrtle Grove Shopping Center.


The design features a variety of textures & unique finishes including stained concrete floors, silestone counters, stainless steel & resin panels (3-form).  Unlike their other locations- we also designed a sushi bar area w/ beer & wine!  If you’re down that way- check it out, they’re great folks!