Asheville architecture draws no shortage of accolades, with most aficionados praising everything from the Biltmore Estate’s grandiose mansion to downtown’s Art Deco landmarks to the city’s myriad arts and crafts-style bungalows. But when Troy Winterrowd walks the streets, he trains his eye on designs of a different sort—the oft-overlooked modern ones.
Winterrowd is one of few locals who heaps praise on the boxy, mid-’70s Asheville Civic Center. “Most people balk at it and think it is completely out of place,” he acknowledges on his blog, Modern Asheville. “But I absolutely love it. The concrete cantilevers hanging over those large-scale natural rocks topped by rhythmic glass walls. It is dynamic to me.”
Modern design has attracted Winterrowd since his upbringing in Columbus, Indiana, a town known for the style. After completing an architecture degree at the University of Cincinnati, he lived on the West Coast, working for companies like Walt Disney Imagineering and Hallmark. He ran a modern-art gallery in Oregon until experiencing Asheville’s pull during a visit in 2006.
Asheville “has a very Northwest flavor to it, so it felt very similar, culture-wise,” he says. One thing seemed to be missing though: “People didn’t talk much about modern design here, but since that’s what I’m drawn to, I wanted to bring awareness to it and create a community around it.”
That community—or at least a virtual hub for it—was born two years ago when Winterrowd created Modern Asheville. The site, he explains, views designs through three basic classifications: ranch-style homes, contemporary ’70s and ’80s buildings, and structures that blur the lines between modern genres.
The site is now a resource for extensive information highlighting area architects, builders, designers, and furniture and fashion retailers with a flair for the modern. It’s also proved a handy outlet for Winterrowd, who works part-time in real estate, to share news about notable homes on the market. And after you check out the blog, take another look at the Civic Center. You might just see it with fresh eyes.