N.C. State’s Hunt Library wins whimsical online beauty contest

sbarr@newsobserver.comAugust 19, 2013 

— The James B. Hunt Jr. Library is ready for its close-up.

So says a recent online poll that ranks the library on N.C. State University’s Centennial Campus as the city’s most attractive building.

The utterly unscientific poll is the latest from photographer Richard Usanis, whose quirky questionnaires are a good-natured attempt to find out what people think about local architecture.

Rounding out the list’s top five are Christ Church on East Edenton Street; the Dodd-Hinsdale House, home of Second Empire Restaurant on Hillsborough Street; the N.C. Museum of Art on Blue Ridge Road; and the State Capitol.

Usanis, who analyzed 29 responses for the poll, said that in most cases people didn’t have a clear preference for traditional or modern architecture when they picked their top choices.

“It was interesting to me that most people voted on a combination of old and new buildings,” he said.

Last year, Usanis released the findings from his ugliest building poll, which bestowed the title on the American Institute of Architects Center for Architecture and Design on Peace Street.

Giving a boost to the adage that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the AIA center also made this year’s most attractive list, coming in 13th in a field of 19.

But, in a bit of unsurprising news, The News & Observer building had no such luck.

The building on South McDowell Street came in No. 7 on the ugliest building list and failed to make the “most attractive” rankings.

In the interest of impartial polling, Usanis won’t weigh in on which of the city’s buildings strike his fancy and which leave him cold. Suffice it to say he doesn’t disagree with his respondents.

“I think the results in both surveys came out quite nicely,” he said.

More photos of the buildings are available at www.usanisphotography.com.

Barr: 919-836-4952

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