Keynote Speaker

George Smart, Founder of NCMH and USModernist


Mr. Modernism, George Smart, is Chair and Executive Director of North Carolina Modernist Houses (NCMH) and USModernist, America's largest open digital archives for Modernist residential architecture.  DWELL called George the "Lorax of Modernist houses."

George Smart 's dad was a Raleigh NC architect for over 40 years who, like many in his generation, was inspired by brilliance of Frank Lloyd Wright. Yet, as a leadership development consultant and coach, George showed no interest whatsoever in architecture until 2007. "I was Googling for modern houses one night and it was like that scene from Alien," jokes Smart. "Something exploded from my DNA!" One Google search led to another, then to a list, then to a website, then to local tours, then dinners, then movies, then design networking happy hours, national tours, an immense digital archive, establishment of the George Matsumoto Prize, and other features enjoyed by up to a million people each year on and  His wife refers to this project as an "11-year seizure."

George has led NC Modernist Houses to 12 national, statewide, and local awards, advancing preservation and raising public appreciation of Modernist design. He is the producer and host of US Modernist Radio with fascinating guests including Paul Goldberger, Jake Gorst, Kyle Bergman, Tim Ross, Roberta Leighton, Hicks Stone, Chris Rawlins, Harry Bates, Allison Arieff, Alison Brooks, Eric Lloyd Wright, Kelly Lynch, Michael Hammond, Eames Demetrios, Raymond Neutra, Susan Saarinen, Brad Dunning, Alexandra Lange, Nathanial Kahn, Jim Cutler, Annalisa Capurro, Joe Kwon, Crosby Doe, Carl Abbott, Larry Scarpa, Frank Harmon, Tom Fetters, Justin Shubow, Kate Wagner, and Sarah Susanka, among many others.  He writes for Atomic Ranch magazine.

The Accidental Archivist

George Smart is an accidental archivist.  He has no degree in art history,  architecture, or library science.  Yet he built websites, North Carolina Modernist Houses and USModernist, that became the largest online digital archives for residential Modernist design in America.

Our mid-century Modernist architects and their original clients are almost all dead; their houses have been sold several times; and the local real estate community would just as soon market teardowns as find new, caring owners.  Despite many houses aging over the 50-year mark, the design and preservation communities are typically focused on the same churches, mills and factories, and Victorians that have occupied their attention for the last 40 years, bless their hearts.  If you’re a local Modernist fan, you often have nowhere to turn for documentation.  “Surely, somebody has done this,” you think. “Surely, some architect or preservation society has a list of the Modernist houses here.” The answer is usually no.  And fans don’t know what to do. 

In a world where the amazing work of local mid-century residential Modernist architects is largely unknown and undocumented, one man proved any motivated idiot can do this job – and he did.  The Accidental Archivist is the entertaining, informative, and inspiring story of how you could be doing this for your community, your town, even your state if it’s small enough. Participants learn how to start a documentation and preservation effort with nothing more than a car and a laptop.

George takes The Accidental Archivist on the road to design and architecture conferences, libraries, preservation organizations, and real estate associations, and other groups across America. The keynote includes Q&A plus George will stay afterwards to talk with audience members.  To book The Accidental Archivist, contact Iva Kravitz, The Iva Agency, (917) 297-7342 or

Mayberry Modernism: North Carolina's Modernist Legacy

Audiences love hearing "Mr. Modernism" George Smart share the story of Mayberry Modernism, how North Carolina became the third largest concentration of Modernist houses in America, some of the most loved, hated, and controversial buildings in the world!  During this entertaining and informative 60-minute visual journey, audiences delight in learning why these “livable works of art” are often endangered and discovering how everyone can help save mid-century houses for future generations. The program plays brilliantly to general audiences as well as design, architecture, construction, real estate, museum, and other groups.

One of America's most passionate advocates for Modernist architecture, George Smart is the founder of North Carolina Modernist Houses (NCMH) and the host of US Modernist Radio. NCMH is one of the nation's leading nonprofits for Modernist research and advocacy, honored with 12 historic preservation awards at the local, state, and national level, including the 2016 AIA National Honors for Collaborative and Professional Achievement.  DWELL called him the "Lorax" of Modernist houses.

George takes Mayberry Modernism on the road to design and architecture conferences, preservation organizations, real estate associations, and other groups across the nation. The keynote includes Q&A plus George will stay afterwards to talk personally with audience members.  To book Mayberry Modernism, contact Iva Kravitz, The Iva Agency, (917) 297-7342 or

"George Smart's Mayberry Modernism presentation is entertaining, informative, and inspiring. When the hour is over you are left wanting to know more." -- Mark Allison, AIA

 "Thank you so much for your exciting presentation to the Winston-Salem Section of the AIA. I got a lot of great comments from several people afterwards and it was one of the most well attended luncheons ever."
-- Chad Everhart, AIA, NCARB

"I do want to thank you for making the trip to Wilmington and speaking to AIA Wilmington and the Cameron Art Museum. We were pleasantly surprised at the large turnout that we had at the event, especially for a Monday night. Everyone with whom I spoke afterwards said that they were impressed with your knowledge of modern architecture and really enjoyed all of the images that you presented. I hope that you can bring this lecture to all of the AIA sections in North Carolina!" -- Laura Miller, AIA, LEED AP

"George Smart gives a fascinating and informative slideshow and presentation about some of our true architectural treasures - the wealth of Modernist homes in our area." -- Mark Zimmerman, Chapel Hill Realtor

George Smart has spoken at:


Preservation Greensboro Incorporated Greensboro North Carolina

Cameron Village Library, Raleigh / Chapel Hill Rotary Club, Chapel Hill
North Raleigh Regional Library, Raleigh / West Regional Library, Cary
South Durham Regional Library, Durham / Chatham County Library, Pittsboro
Durham Central Library, Durham / Lappas and Havener Landscape Architects, Durham
Durham Engineers Club, Durham / Carolina Country Club, Raleigh
Preservation Society of Chapel Hill / YSU/Prudential, Durham

Raleigh Kiwanis, Durham / Tobaccoland Kiwanis, Durham
City of Raleigh Museum, Raleigh / Southwest Durham Rotary Club, Durham
Hope Valley Rotary, Durham / The Garage, Winston-Salem
Hickory Preservation, Hickory / City of Raleigh Past Employees, Raleigh
Leadership Triangle, Raleigh / Carol Woods Retirement Center, Chapel Hill
Carolina Meadows Retirement Center, Chapel Hill /
Emerald Pond Retirement Center, Durham
First Baptist Church, Raleigh / Cedars Retirement Center
NCSU College of Design, Raleigh / Junior League of Durham and Orange Counties, Durham
Rotary of Raleigh / High Point Market/Universal Furniture, High Point

Learning Objectives (for CE purposes)

Participants learn how thousands of significant Modernist houses were documented and made available to the public online, many for the first time.

Participants identify the beginnings of North Carolina residential Modernist design as part of a national movement.

Participants learn key differences between Modernist and contemporary architecture.

Participants learn why North Carolina is the third largest concentration of Modernist houses in the country.

Participants learn the key architects and influencers in North Carolina Modernism. 

Participants see 60 years of North Carolina award-winning residences.

Participants learn marketing methods to preserve mid-century Modernist houses through preservation, occupancy, and sustainable development strategies.

Participants discover how documenting, preserving, and promoting residential Modernist design benefits the architecture and construction industries.

Participants learn key differences between selling a traditional house and selling a Modernist house.

Participants gain free access to a digital archive of over 22,000 photos of over 6,500 Modernist houses, along with profiles on 300+ architects.

Participants learn how NCMH became the country's largest open digital archive for Modernist houses and a recognized leader in Modernist preservation with 12 local, state, and national awards.