Tonic Design Tonic Construction

Tonic Design Tonic Construction is an award-winning modern design-build firm in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Crabill Modern

The Crabill Residence presented an opportunity and a challenge. The clients were interested in a progressive, energy efficient, thoroughly contemporary home that supported their live-work lifestyle and fit their modest budget. So, with the goal of making an innovative modern design accessible to a broader range of families, we set out to create a unique living space on the client’s five-acre property in a clearing amidst a lush forest. It was important to avoid disturbing the natural environment and to accommodate the surrounding wildlife.

The Plan

We began with a compact rectangle and divided the plan functions into quadrants to use the land in an efficient and economical way. Then, we challenged and re-envisioned the box (or the typical spec plan) based on the patterns of use and lifestyle of our client. These transformations created a plan hierarchy, where the more important spaces grew larger. These operations 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. This box, wrapped in a skin of solid and perforated cor-ten steel, acts as a visual screen, rain screen, canopy, and sunshade. The home, with elements resembling an old barn, is a constantly evolving element in the landscape.

“As time goes forward, we’re catching up to the past, in a way,” says the homeowner.

The architectural composition is informed by a reading of the context, materials, and forms of this region. We used simple, inexpensive materials and references to agricultural structures in a modern architectural composition to reflect the verdant surroundings. The weathered cor-ten steel exterior, inspired by old farm sheds, is both solid and perforated and is a constantly evolving element in the landscape.

Hillsborough, NC



2012 AIA NC Merit Award
2012 AIA Triangle Residential Tour Award
2012 NCSU Architecture Accreditation: Faculty Exhibit
2012 Dwell Houses We Love: Region of Honor March
2011 TMH Hillsborough Modernism Tour
2011 SparkCon Exhibit 
2016 AIA Triangle - Merit Award
2016 AIA South Atlantic Region - Merit Award