Where Are They Now?: Harry Wolf

The fifth Mecklenburg County Courthouse, at Third and McDowell, is an excellent example of Wolf’s modernist style.

Chris Edwards

Like every architect, Harry Wolf has less work than he'd like. But he met recently with a developer on an interesting project in Oakland, a condo redo. He's moved, from Malibu, where he lived for twenty-one years, to more walkable West Hollywood. A daughter just graduated from the Parsons School of Design in New York, and a son studies poetry at Berkeley. He lives in an Italian Renaissance apartment building with a courtyard. It's not the modern design Wolf, likely the best architect Charlotte has ever produced, is known for. But at least it's original.

Wolf, seventy-five, says he remains passionate about architecture. "I get up every day and I work and I enjoy it."

The Charlotte native practiced here from the late 1960s to the late 1980s. During that time, his firm won an unprecedented five national honor awards for design from the American Institute of Architects. The limestone-clad Mecklenburg County Courthouse at Third and McDowell and the horizontal glass of what was originally the Equitable Life Assurance Building on Morrison Boulevard, now the Coca-Cola Building, hold up well.

He spent five years in New York, then moved to Malibu, his former wife's hometown. In California, he designed a massive parking deck for Disneyland. He left Charlotte to pursue a wider career. But, he says, "I did find Charlotte increasingly conservative, aesthetically and in other ways."

Wolf discounts any talk about his legacy. That would mean he's done, and he's not. "I'm still reading, studying, learning," he says, adding with a laugh, "One of these days, I'm going to get it right."

 

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