NCC Alum Designs Award Winning Home

NCC’s Joseph Biondo won an architectural award for design of a Bethlehem home.

Credit: Image courtesy Matt Wargo Photography
Credit: Matt Wargo Photography

Joseph Biondo, Northampton Community College (NCC) alum and professor of architecture and interior design, earned an Award of Merit at the 2022 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Pennsylvania Architectural Excellence Design Awards. 

Biondo, founder and sole practitioner at BIONDO + Projects, graduated from NCC in 1983. In 2020, Biondo founded BIONDO + Projects, a Lehigh-Valley based architect led real estate development studio. 

The firm is, “a laboratory for challenging conventional housing typology through self-initiated projects. Our purpose is to engage the general public in the dialogue of design through built example.,” Biondo says. 

The AIA Pennsylvania Design Awards celebrate the exceptional design achievements of members and the impact of architecture. After reviewing 120 entries from 59 Pennsylvania architectural firms, the jury selected 20 projects from 12 firms to receive awards. 

Biondo won for the design of House on 5th, a high quality, fiscally accessible house set within an everyday neighborhood. BIONDO + Projects was the only local, Lehigh Valley firm recognized at this year’s ceremony. 

“During the course of the House on 5th project, I challenged the idea that an architect designing a home is a luxury reserved for the elite,” Biondo said. “The working class is equally deserving of high-quality design. Unfortunately, housing has been reduced to profit-driven exercises that prioritize ease and speed of construction over things like sustainability, thoughtfulness, and timelessness.” 

The design is a two-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom 1,300 square foot home. In the interior, the home has a contemporary design with open-concept main living space and a spiral staircase to a multi-purpose loft.   

Credit: Image courtesy Matt Wargo Photography
Credit: Image courtesy Matt Wargo Photography

It features two main materials – brick and shingle, common materials used in unconventional ways. Asphalt shingles, traditionally used as roofing material, are found on the roof and sides of the home. The brick features weeping joints to create texture and shadow along the exterior. The jury was taken by the approach and were impressed by his use of these two materials. 

Biondo incorporates his experiences at the firm into the classroom at NCC as a professor. “This recognition goes far beyond an award. It’s more about practicing what I preach. In many ways, it represents our first week of class, challenging students to dream big, become fearless, embrace failure, and be self-reliant,” he says, “I share my wisdom and unique experience which started here at the College. It is my time to give back and inspire the next generation of design professionals. We all have an inherent ability to do remarkable things and solve complex problems for humanity, and my job is to help nurture that spirit.” 

House on 5th sold in only four days on the market. “For nearly a century, the average family size has been decreasing. Conversely, our average new home is becoming out of reach and square footage is dramatically increasing,” Biondo said, using House on 5th as a response to these societal changes. He is actively working on future projects, which includes an efficient single-family exploration and a multi-family development.