David Harmon – Class of 1983
Founding Principal, David Harmon Architecture / Photographer: David Harmon Studios

Every building, every structure, and even every home must have been planned and designed by someone. David Harmon is one who has found his mission in bringing order, usefulness, and beauty to spaces and is the founding principal of his own architecture firm, David Harmon Architecture. “Many architects,” explains David, “have a particular niche or specialty. I am more of a generalist; my 30 years of experience includes several different types of projects including restaurants, medical office buildings, industrial facilities, churches, and various other commercial projects.

“Operating one’s own business is always a challenge because the owner has to wear many different hats, from finances to marketing to designing. But it is also rewarding for me because I can see the final product and know that I was able to make it productive and efficient for the client and aesthetically pleasing for the public as well. It gives me a sense of satisfaction and hope that my legacy might be around long after me.”

After earning a bachelor's degree from UNC-Charlotte, David worked in a couple small firms for several years, exposing him to the many facets that make up an architectural firm. That experience has led him from a 10–15-man business to working for the country’s fourth largest healthcare developer, to guiding his own company. David spent over thirty years practicing in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Cabarrus metro area.

Before being accepted into UNCC’s school of Architecture, David spent a couple years swimming at the varsity level against schools such as Duke, Georgia Tech, East Carolina and many others located in the southeast. “Recently I have become more involved with the Niner Varsity Club which supports UNC-Charlotte athletics by being involved in mentoring and networking. It has helped reconnect me with my school and provides the opportunity to help guide these young adults.”

Traveling around the world over the last twenty-five years has taken David from France to Spain to Prague to Italy and even to Tokyo / Okinawa Japan. He also spent two years in the Cayman Islands where he owned and ran a dive resort. “The Cayman Islands are known for some of the best scuba diving in the world. Little Cayman Island is a mile wide and ten miles long with about 100 residents and has been listed among the late Jacques Cousteau’s five best islands for diving. It was a blast, a really great adventure and opportunity to meet people all over the world.

“I first became interested in architecture in Don Bumgarner’s drafting class at Drexel Junior High. Using the T-square and drawing designs really captured my interest. I continued exploring that field at East Burke in Chet Pack’s architecture class and with my involvement in the DECA program. I was also very intrigued by the open space design of the East Burke building. I had never seen anything like it, and my curiosity about design was awakened.”

In addition to playing football for three years, David was also active on the swim team for four years. During that time, ninth graders who were attending junior high were also allowed to take part with the swim team, and he took advantage of the opportunity.

“My swim coach, Dennis Smith, was a real inspiration. He taught me how to get the most out of my abilities and how to push myself to limits beyond what I could imagine. Danny Williams was my football coach for three years and molded me even away from the field. I may have been the smallest player on the team, but Coach Williams knew just as much about me as any of the star players. He showed interest in my swimming and even took time to announce our team’s meet results weekly. To him, we were all important, and that makes a lasting impression. Jane Deal, who served as the secretary at Drexel First Church of God had the same effect. As a young boy who attended church by himself and not related to any of the members, she made me feel important and welcomed me at every event.”

Like so many others, David moved back to Burke County to take care of his mother, and he quickly found ways to contribute to the community. “One of the activities I really enjoyed was coaching the Draughn High School swim team. I did that for five years and found it to be very rewarding.”

David has maintained an office at the Old Rock School in Valdese for eight years. “The business is growing, and I hope to expand the staff. I want to add a development arm, concentrating on small towns across North Carolina. During the past decade, lots of towns - Lenoir and Hickory are examples - have revitalized themselves, and others seek to do something similar. I have a special interest in this type of growth and would like to give a boost to their endeavors though my architectural experience.”

In addition to his architectural career, David also has had success in both art and photography. “I had the opportunity to have my first art show at the Old Rock School in March of 2020; unfortunately, the show ended after a week when everything closed down during the pandemic. Photography has been a passion of mine since I was a teen. Shooting local high school and college athletes in various sports occupies my time away from the office these days. I even had the chance to find myself back down on East Burkes Football Field taking photos of the returning queens at East Burke’s 50th Homecoming celebration.

“I want to emphasize that I did not move away from Burke County because I didn’t like living here, but instead, I left because of job opportunities. I have nothing but great memories of my home and town, and I’m happy to be living here again. I hope I can continue to make a difference.”

Published Febuary 2024

Home Page