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Not exactly houses, not exactly commercial structures, these specialty shelters fall under their own category - and mystique. They tend to be located at great vistas: an airport, a working farm, a huge expanse of meadow. What's the big deal? They create an openness and often intense connection to one's surroundings.

1996 - The RDU Observation Park, RDU Airport. Open to the public during daylight hours, free. Includes a playground for kids with a mini-runway. Designed by Cherry Huffman.

2005 - The Open-Air Classroom at Prairie Ridge Environmental Education Center, 4301 Reedy Creek Road, Raleigh, designed by Frank Harmon. Built by BuildSense. Won an AIA Triangle Honor Award. Won a 2009 South Atlantic Region AIA Award. Received a design award from the N.C. Chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 2005. This is the first phase of the N.C. Museum of Natural History’s hands-on teaching and extension facility. Located on 38 acres. Photos by Timothy Hursley.

2008 - aka Art as Shelter, designed by Tonic Design with Mike Cindric of Design Dimensions. Construction by Tonic Construction. Located at the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh. Designed for their Art-In-Service program, the large interior clear spans promote its use as an open air classroom -- a beautiful indoor/outdoor setting for teaching art and nature. Won an AIANC Merit Award in 2008. Won a 2009 Merit Award from AIA Triangle. Won a 2009 South Atlantic Region AIA Award. First, third, and last photos by James West.

2008 - Bus Shelter for Wake Technical Community College, 9101 Fayetteville Road, Raleigh. Design by Doug Brinkley of Pearce Brinkley Cease and Lee plus David Hill. Construction by Tonic Construction. Won an AIANC Merit Award in 2008.

Sources include: Vinny Petrarca, NC Museum of Natural History, AIANC,
Dan Huffman, RDU Airport Authority, Frank Harmon.