The Matsumoto House is one of several Modernist houses built in Raleigh from the 1940s to the 1960s. These houses were the manifestation of architectural concepts embraced by the faculty of the School of Design, established in 1948 at North Carolina State College (now North Carolina State University). Dean Henry Kamphoefner recruited several Modernist architects as faculty members, and was instrumental in influencing other Modernists to come to North Carolina to practice. He also brought internationally known architects to the school to lecture and to lead studio workshops. The faculty designed several residences for themselves, other faculty members, or for a small group of clients interested in new ideas in architecture. Built for the most part on relatively ample, wooded suburban lots, located on what then were the outskirts of the city, a key element in most of the designs is a careful integration of the house with its site.
In 1952, faculty member George Matsumoto began construction of his own house on a steeply sloping tract adjacent to a small stream. Its design shows the same attention to economical, post-and-beam modular construction and careful detailing as is seen in his earlier Richter House design. However, the young Japanese American architect was also strongly influenced by the work of Mies Van der Rohe, and the Matsumoto House demonstrates a Miesian concern with exposed structure and a sense of suspension generated by the use of lightweight wall, floor and ceiling planes to articulate its internal space. The sloping site allowed Matsumoto to put a lower level built of concrete block under the house, a space which contained his studio and which forms a base for the frame box cantilevered above it. The rectangular, flat-roofed mass of the main living areas is reached by a small bridge rising from a Japanese-influenced outdoor court. While the street side of the house presents a mostly-blank facade divided into panels, all of the rooms along the back of the house open with glass doors and windows onto a cantilevered, screened rear porch, extending the living space visually into the wooded hillside beyond. The Matsumoto House is a designated Raleigh Historic Landmark.
The Matsumoto House is located at 821 Runnymede Rd. It is a private residence and is not open to the public.
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