Guest Post: A Look at the Pleiades Modern Homes

Today we have a guest post from Logan Cason. I connected with Logan who is interested in single family homes in Durham from a design, sustainability, and density standpoint. Before reading his article, I was only vaguely familiar with the Pleiades homes in Old Five Points. I had seen them and I had heard people discuss them from afar. I was completely unaware of the thought that went into them and the story behind them. I found it fascinating and appropriate for this blog, which explores how the built environment of Durham is growing, changing, and evolving.

Before I turn it over to Logan, I wanted to first invite people to discuss this post in the forums. If you are feeling really generous, I also want to request that you take some time to do two more things:

  1. Create a new topic in the forums with whatever is on your mind. Pick the appropriate sub-forum and post there.
  2. Either now or in a couple of days, come back and respond to someone else's topic.

Thank you and to get us started, below is a brief bio of Logan:

Logan lives with his wife in a 1950s ranch in North Durham. He writes about pretty much anything he wants to learn about, and right now he wants to learn about modern residential architecture so he can design his dream home someday. You can follow him on Twitter @logancason5

Pleiades Modern: A New Pocket Neighborhood Brings Modern Look to Old Five Points

How do you turn one single-family home into nine? That’s the question Adam Dickinson of 501 Realty had to answer with the development of the latest edition to Durham’s diverse architectural aesthetic: Pleiades Modern.

As the Bull City continues to grow, developers face the challenge of making the most with limited space. When an existing property shows up on the market but the home is not move-in ready, a developer can either renovate or rebuild. In the case of this large lot in the Old Five Points neighborhood, Adam saw an opportunity to tear down the one single-family home and build nine new modern homes, providing something beautiful for more homeowners.

Adam calls himself an Urbanist. He said, “good urbanism is about enabling more people to live closer together and still enjoy it.” Instead of building another McMansion or high rise to cast a shadow over the neighbors, Adam decided to build a “pocket neighborhood” that makes the most optimal use of space while still providing privacy and comfort for its residents. “In an environment where we have finite land resources,” he continued, “better urban design is the way to welcome more people to the neighborhood.”

Adam grew up in a passive solar home with a father who built custom homes for a living, and this inspired him to learn more about how home design can make people feel. Years later, Adam would study real estate development at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. He was particularly interested in sustainable neighborhood development, and after a decade of real estate brokerage, he learned enough about what homebuyers wanted most in a modern urban community. Pleiades Modern is the result.

Along with the help of The Raleigh Architecture Company*, Adam envisioned a triple bottom line approach, focusing on social, economic, and environmental sustainability.

  • Social: The shared green space in the center of the development offers a welcoming environment for neighbors to meet and recreate (welcoming neighbors down the street as well), and the close proximity to nearby community means residents can walk to local hotspots like restaurants, gyms, and watering holes, as well as the Central Park for festivals and farmers markets.
  • Economic: The size and location of the development means it can utilize existing infrastructure like roads and utility lines. This saves money on construction, and this also results in savings to the city in maintenance costs later. Plus, the use of high-grade modern construction materials will result in maintenance savings for the homeowners over the years.
  • Environmental: The homes are designed with energy efficiency in mind at every square foot. The physical layout is designed to increase space for optimal heating and cooling efficiency, the appliances meet the highest standards for efficient energy use, the homes come ready for the installation of solar panels on the roof, and the lots are even finished with pollinator-friendly landscaping.

In order to begin construction, the one existing single-family home on the lot was town down, and the salvaged materials were donated to Habitat for Humanity. The large lot was then divided into nine, inspiring the name Pleiades—the nine-star cluster in the constellation Taurus (that’s right Bull City).

Aesthetically, each home was designed to offer a cutting-edge modern look that fit in with its surroundings. Those on North Mangum Street blend in with street-facing poured concrete sound barriers, long-format masonry, and lighter-colored James Hardie paneling. The Mangum residences sit higher up on an insulated crawl space, so it’s harder to see the passing street traffic from the inside. On the more residential Glendale Avenue side, the homes offer natural wood siding and darker cladding. The Glendale residences also include custom-made porch swings to further encourage street engagement. The paneling is bordered by recessed aluminum Tamlyn strips that accentuate the unique pattern of the cladding, and the dynamic design of the low-e Andersen windows presents a unique appearance for each home.

Inside, the look is minimalist and modern. Simple touches like maximum natural light and low-detail floor molding let the homeowner’s life and individual d├ęcor speak for itself. The floors are made up of appearance-grade white oak, which includes subtle details like knots and grain variation to give the floor tactile personality. Each room has a unique feel thanks to the creative placement of the windows, and the high and narrow windows allow residents to enjoy privacy without sacrificing natural light.


The pocket neighborhood has already welcomed its first residents. The first four homes on Glendale were purchased by a group of neighbors who can now call each other friends. “The hardware was ready,” Adam said, “and the software fit because they already knew each other.” The next four homes on the North Mangum side will be complete some time in June with the ninth and final home to follow shortly after.

For more information, visit the Pleiades Modern homepage.

*Other partners in the project include Merge Capital, Coulter Thames Jewell, and Site Collaborative.

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