1 Learned Place, Durham NC
6040 SF on one level | 3 bedrooms | 3.5 baths | Solarium + Indoor Pool | Private Office | 0.97 acre
A Masterpiece of North Carolina Modernist Architecture by Jon Condoret, Architect
Arthur and Florence Larson commissioned architect Jon Condoret to design 1 Learned Place in 1971; the home was constructed between 1972-1973. Following the International Style, the residence is a composed of a series of interlocking double-story shed-shaped bays, arranged on a single floor. It is situated above the street on a 0.97 acre property located on a small street, which backs up to the wooded area around the Duke Golf Course. “The house is a physical reflection of the things the we enjoy: music is one; sculpture and graphic arts and painting are others; and of course, writing.” said Florence.
The exterior of the home utilizes metal cladding, stucco, and large glass window walls. Originally, the home was 4825 square feet. It was Condoret’s first major commission, and is known to have been his favorite one. The architect’s charge from the Larsons: build a house full of light, but with absolute privacy.
Additionally, they desired a main living room area to accommodate musical performances, in both sound quality and structure.
The Larsons were dedicated to the Mallarme Chamber Music society. Dr. Larson was especially interested in ancient music; one concert held in the home included 30 people, singing and playing early instruments. “The acoustics are beautiful, superlative. The box effects of the beams and the repeated barriers break the sound so it doesn’t echo.” said Dr. Larson of the room’s acoustics, which were “part luck and part planning.”
Concerts of all kinds have been held in the house for over 45 years. The house was once filled with rare early woodwind instruments — a number of which are now in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian. (see the 1973 Durham Morning Herald news article included at the end of this page for glimpse of these instruments adorning the walls of the living room)
In 1999-2000, a major renovation was undertaken with Fu Tung Cheng, of Cheng Design, Berkeley, California. The project’s scope included reconfiguration of the dining room, kitchen, guest wing, and indoor pool within the existing footprint of the house, with an eye toward entertaining. This project accomplished one very important goal: there would be no compromise to Condoret’s vision or the architectural antecedents of the house. The original kitchen was compact and was hexagonal-shaped.
Fu Tung Cheng was one of the originators of the interior cast concrete movement on the West Coast in the 1980’s. He wrote two books on artful concrete design and process, which have become the textbooks for “all things concrete”. For 1 Learned Place, all artisan concrete and plaster architectural details of the 1999 renovation were custom designed by Cheng.
Landscape architect Judy Harmon designed a dramatic entrance path and garden in 2008, a nod to the Prado in Madrid. Rows of green hedges, mondo grass between independent rectangles of exposed aggregate concrete slabs, artfully arranged low voltage light scheme, builds an unique and welcoming experience.
In 2011, the owners’ suite was re-designed by the owners, in consultation with Bill Waddell and Vinnie Petrarca. The footprint of the owners wing was intentionally unaltered, to maintain the integrity of the original design. The original bookcases and cabinets, and the gorgeous cherry and brass doorknobs were all retained. The interior finishes were once slate, wood paneled walls, and brown tile clad the shared shower.
The finishes selected by the owners are lighter in color, and have subtle texture changes.
Sleek fixtures, an elegant soaking tub with views of the courtyard, and the Twinkle Toes sculpture are adornments to this dressing and bathroom areas.
Visitors to the home say they feel like they are visiting a luxury spa – thanks to the Solarium and indoor pool. The solarium is heated, cooled, and humidity controlled. The pool uses a ozinator for disinfection – no chemicals and no smell!
A private office is located at the far end of the house. With a dedicated entry and a concrete deck, it is the perfect arrangement for hosting socially distanced meetings with colleagues –or an enviable backdrop for zoom meetings.
MLS Data Info for 1 Learned Place
1 Learned Place was featured on the NC Modernist “Trickle Tour”, August 8, 2020
Contact Angela for more information on this extraordinary home. MLS #2334652
Offered for $1,650,000
Video of 1 Learned Place:
Want to see more? click on the interactive virtual tour link below:
Virtual Tour (Matterport Virtual Tour:
For additional information:
Link to NC Modernist’s webpage on Jon Condoret:
Durham Magazine article featuring 1 Learned Place, 2013:
Featured Article: Durham Morning Herald, December 16, 1973, with images of the Larson’s in their newly constructed home: