Goodnight Raleigh - a look at the art, architecture, history, and people of the city at night

G. Milton Small – My Favorite Architect

Between the most beautiful building, the ugliest building, and the most beautiful historic structure articles, this author has been making several best of/worst of claims for the area. In that same effort, I would like to nominate my pick for favorite area architect–G. Milton Small. I have written about him before, when showcasing his former office building near NCSU campus.

Located at 3515 Glenwood Avenue, the building featured in this article is just inside of the beltline. It was constructed in 1962 and is frequently referred to as the Northwestern Mutual Insurance Building, after the original tenants of the structure. The current tenant is the Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic.

Small is noted for many buildings, including Carter-Finley Stadium, the NCSU Student Center, WRAL TV studios (assisting partner Joseph Boaz), St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Durham’s Home Security Life Building, and his prolific modernist houses below. His son, G. Milton III, is principal at the firm, now called Small Kane Architects. According to his son, Small also designed 100-200 homes in the Drewry Hills area of Raleigh.

Triangle Modernist Houses

It’s quite easy to see the resemblance between this building and his former office. Both have an elevated main floor, dark fenestration that almost completely envelopes, long overhangs, and a clean and tasteful use of concrete to project rigidity and strength.

Unlike the brutalism architecture that was on the tail end of modernism, G. Milton Small’s structures seem to convey a sense of simplicity and purpose in every aspect. Utitizing large rectangular floor plans, usable space underneath the main area, and providing enough glare resistant windows to allow in plenty of soft light creates a sense of harmony and comfort. If I could choose any structure in Raleigh as my most ideal workplace, it would be one designed by G. Milton Small.

Where would be your most ideal workplace be? Who do you think is most deserving of the title Best (area) Architect?


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