Why Landscape Architecture? Why LandDesign?
By: Mack Drzayich, Landscape Design Intern My first exposure to landscape design was in the private residential sector. It was great being able to work one-on-one with homeowners to beautify their surroundings. I loved it. But I still yearned to create spaces that were meaningful on a larger scale – places that reached beyond the […]
By: Mack Drzayich, Landscape Design Intern
My first exposure to landscape design was in the private residential sector. It was great being able to work one-on-one with homeowners to beautify their surroundings. I loved it. But I still yearned to create spaces that were meaningful on a larger scale – places that reached beyond the backyard and benefited communities at large. A great deal of the individual experience is influenced by the bigger picture, and I wanted to help paint that picture. So naturally, my wife and I packed our bags and moved across the country for graduate school in landscape architecture at Penn State University. Two years and two kids later, I’ve found myself in Charlotte, NC, interning with LandDesign!
Wait, hold on. Let’s rewind. Why landscape architecture? And why LandDesign? (And while you’re probably wondering Why two kids in grad school?!? I’ll just stick to the first two).
Landscape architects bring a unique skillset to urban design, and as the world’s population continues to transition to urban living, I sense that we will play an increasingly essential role. There are a lot of players involved in shaping cities, including urban planners, architects, engineers, environmental scientists and developers, to name a few. Landscape architecture in many ways is a blend of all of these fields – art, ecology and sociology all in one. And I’ll never forget what world-renowned architect, James Wines, said in a lecture at Penn State, “Landscape architects are the true heroes in city sustainability.” Green matters, and we have the chance to be social and environmental advocates in urban developments – notoriously harsh environments. Landscape architects aren’t just minimizing damage, but reversing it, and yes, I wanted to be a part of it.
So why LandDesign? LandDesign’s ethos – creating places that matter – struck a chord with me. While simple, it embodied my earlier desires of doing something that actually had a positive impact on broader society and the environment beyond one person’s backyard. Thankfully, I’ve come to find out that this notion of creating places that matter isn’t just a slogan. I experience it at the drawing table, I hear it in the way my coworkers talk and I see it reflected in the work that goes out the door. In our Charlotte office, we are truly elevating Charlotte’s culture and quality of life through meaningful design, and I’m lucky to take part in it. I will also add that I am grateful for the culture at LandDesign. They value not only design and professional development, but community involvement and family, because well, you know…two kids.
The Tools, Tricks and Techniques behind Landscape Architecture
By: Natalie Spinola, Landscape Design Intern As landscape architects, designers and engineers, we understand the importance of being able to express our ideas both accurately and creatively. We use a wide range of software programs from Adobe products, AutoCAD, Revit, Sketchup and Lumion as forms of communication in this profession. However, sometimes the most effective […]
By: Natalie Spinola, Landscape Design Intern
As landscape architects, designers and engineers, we understand the importance of being able to express our ideas both accurately and creatively. We use a wide range of software programs from Adobe products, AutoCAD, Revit, Sketchup and Lumion as forms of communication in this profession. However, sometimes the most effective way to express our ideas, concepts and design solutions is through hand drawing. At LandDesign, I had the opportunity to see how all forms of expression are used in professional practice while also learning new tools, tricks and techniques.
Coming from a master’s program where my peers and I had different undergraduate degrees, that for the most part were not related to design, architecture or art, we were all slightly intimidated by technical programs like AutoCAD, ArcGIS and even our own ability to hand draw. We had to learn the very basics in a short period of time. However, the more I use these programs, practice hand rendering and receive advice from others, the more I learn and grow as a designer. The experienced professionals at LandDesign are continuously providing new shortcuts, tools and tricks on how to get the job done faster and more efficiently. I also had the opportunity to learn Land F/X, an AutoCAD plug-in program that allows you to create construction details and specific planting plans without the headache of altering and counting acres of vegetation. Where has this program been the past two years of grad school?!
As diagramming is heavily stressed by my professors, it is great to see it is used in the professional environment. Basic diagramming can be a very successful way to communicate concepts to a client or to show an understanding of existing versus proposed conditions. It has been especially useful over the past two months when working on larger scale master planning projects to help illustrate and understand pieces of landscape such as water systems, park and green space systems, spatial relationships and connections and land use. I also had the opportunity to work on a few illustrative renderings using a mix of Photoshop and Google Sketchup. I found that brushes really go a long way to create textures that make your image look much more realistic and appealing.
I am eager to take these new tools, tricks and techniques that I have learned throughout my internship and apply them to my own work as I finish my last year of grad school and continue pursuing a career in landscape architecture. I have found that by keeping up with technology and having the thirst to learn new innovative and creative ways to express your ideas, will not only save you from being overwhelmed and prevent you from falling behind in this competitive market, but it will also save you time and money in the long run.
Advice from an Intern: Get an Internship
By: Hannah Thomas, Landscape Design Intern As a student in the field of landscape architecture, I think that at times the profession can seem daunting and intimidating. Will I remember all of this information? Are my renderings up to par? Will I be working 80 hours a week? I’m here to squander those negative, naïve […]
By: Hannah Thomas, Landscape Design Intern
As a student in the field of landscape architecture, I think that at times the profession can seem daunting and intimidating. Will I remember all of this information? Are my renderings up to par? Will I be working 80 hours a week? I’m here to squander those negative, naïve questions running through your head with one simple piece of advice: Get an internship.
Trust me, you won’t regret it. Any professional experience will help bring your academic work into perspective, and give context and reason to why your professors are making you do the crazy things that you’re up all night doing. At any firm there is always an opportunity to learn from anyone and everyone. But at a diverse and innovative firm like LandDesign, not only will you learn a lot, you will also be given hands-on experience with real projects, become familiar with new design programs, and meet a lot of welcoming, inspiring design professionals. Looking at your future-self as a Landscape Architect shouldn’t be scary, it should be exciting and an opportunity for you to make a difference in the world by creating a place that matters.
To me, this is one of the most exciting aspects of being a landscape architect – our profession’s ability to make a positive change to our Earth’s landscape. We have the capability and skills to make the landscape a more habitable and enjoyable place to live, not only for humans, but for native plants, animal species, and natural resources. This realization has led to my professional goal to enhance the health of all living, ecological and natural assets through creative design. Hence, why I was drawn to LandDesign, a firm that prioritizes a community’s culture, natural context and ecological resources, despite varying project scales and types, to create a place that matters.
Nationally-Recognized Hospitality Designer Joins LandDesign
Keith Bongirno Named Florida Director of Planning & Landscape Architecture ORLANDO, Fla. (July 6, 2016) – Award-winning designer of resort, hospitality and destination projects worldwide Keith Bongirno, ASLA, CLARB, has joined LandDesign as director of planning and landscape architecture. Based in the firm’s Orlando office, Bongirno will play an integral role in LandDesign’s strategic vision […]
Keith Bongirno Named Florida Director of Planning & Landscape Architecture
ORLANDO, Fla. (July 6, 2016) – Award-winning designer of resort, hospitality and destination projects worldwide Keith Bongirno, ASLA, CLARB, has joined LandDesign as director of planning and landscape architecture. Based in the firm’s Orlando office, Bongirno will play an integral role in LandDesign’s strategic vision to create artistic and creative places by developing the firm’s emerging Destinations practice.
Bongirno is a leader in the hospitality design industry whose work has received numerous awards including several top honors from the American Resort Development Association (ARDA). He has built a reputation for creating immersive guest experiences with a portfolio that includes large-scale themed resort properties, high-end destinations and environmentally-sensitive residential developments in the U.S., Caribbean, Asia and Middle East. Examples include:
- WaterColor Inn Beach Site, WaterColor, Fla.
- Casa Monica Hotel, St. Augustine, Fla.
- Celebration Hotel, Celebration, Fla.
- Inspiration Villas, Sand Destin, Fla.
- Redfish Village, Blue Mountain Beach, Fla.
- Hilton Grand Vacation Club, Las Vegas, Nevada
- Mount Melville Country Club and Resort, St. Andrews, Scotland
- Theme Park Resort, Marne la Vallee, France
- Hollywood Hotel, Hong Kong, China
“Keith has a passion for creating places that are engaging, entertaining and aesthetically outstanding,” said LandDesign CEO Rhett Crocker. “His 30-year career has focused on extraordinary designs that immerse people in the experience. This focus integrates well with our commitment to creating memorable and authentic places.”
Bongirno co-founded the Winter Park, Fla. architecture firm Meyer, Bongirno & Craig in 1996. Clients included Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and Busch Gardens. In 2000, the firm became MSI following mergers with design firms in Columbus, Ohio and Pasadena, Calif. In 2011, he joined Stantec (NYSE: STN), a Canadian firm with eight Florida offices.
For nearly four decades, LandDesign has provided urban planning, landscape architecture, civil engineering, and branding to clients across the globe. With offices in Charlotte, NC; Washington DC; Dallas Tex.; Orlando, Fla. and San Francisco, Calif., the firm’s 140+ professional staff collaborate within an integrated platform of expertise, creativity and the latest communication technology. This approach allows LandDesign’s clients the advantage of the firm’s depth of services and expertise providing creative and sustainable project solutions for communities and destinations worldwide. The firm’s portfolio represents award-winning projects from urban design and large-scale community planning to intimate spaces – all with a core goal of creating meaningful places to live, work and play. www.landdesign.com.
Symphony Park: Charlotte’s Most Entertaining Retention Pond
June 23, 2016 Only in Charlotte does one look forward to spending Sunday evenings in June laying on a blanket next to a 1.87-acre retention pond. For 14 years, Symphony Park and its visually-striking 2,700 square foot covered stage, has been home to the Charlotte Symphony’s Summer Pops series. Luring an average of 4,000 […]
June 23, 2016
Only in Charlotte does one look forward to spending Sunday evenings in June laying on a blanket next to a 1.87-acre retention pond.
For 14 years, Symphony Park and its visually-striking 2,700 square foot covered stage, has been home to the Charlotte Symphony’s Summer Pops series. Luring an average of 4,000 people each weekend to picnic on the lawn, friends and family take in some of the best of the Charlotte cultural scene with a glass of pinot grigio.
We imagine that most of the folks staking out their 10×10 of green space hours before the concert begins aren’t concerned that the park was designed to capture and treat the runoff from the surrounding 60 acres of development, and has also improved downstream flooding for adjacent property owners. But they shouldn’t be. Symphony Park was meant to be a destination. A place for the Charlotte Symphony to extend its’ reach within the greater Charlotte community. An urban oasis between the mall and adjacent office developments and residential neighborhoods. A place to bring people together.
The multi-functional park hosts an array of events and festivals throughout the year including Summer Pops; Beer, Bourbon & BBQ; Movies under the Stars; Latin American Festival; Picnic at SouthPark; Sunset Jazz Festival; MS Walk; and the annual Holiday Tree Lighting.
This popular summer series, voted “Best Concert Series” and one of “50 Things Every Charlottean Should Do” in the city by the readers of Charlotte Magazine, is conducted by the spirited Albert-George Schram. This Sunday’s concert presents a particular theme we are rather fond of, where the featured music was written with places in mind. Hence the name, Oh, the Places You’ll Go. We hope to see you out there enjoying the symphonic sound.
Click here to purchase Summer Pops tickets.
Five Engineers Pass State Board PE Exam
May 31, 2016 Five months ago, a handful of our civil engineers decided to embark upon the dedicated task of studying for their Professional Engineering exam. If you ask any one of them, they’ll tell you it wasn’t a walk in Romare Bearden Park. They put in countless long days, scaled back on the #Beer30’s […]
May 31, 2016
Five months ago, a handful of our civil engineers decided to embark upon the dedicated task of studying for their Professional Engineering exam. If you ask any one of them, they’ll tell you it wasn’t a walk in Romare Bearden Park. They put in countless long days, scaled back on the #Beer30’s and hit the books hard. On April 15th, they sat for eight hours to take a test in which they wouldn’t hear the results for over a month. Well, we’re happy to announce that five of our engineers successfully passed their State Board of Examiners Professional Engineering Exam. Congratulations to Brian Crafford, Aaron Wagoner, Tyler Howell, Matt Grigsby and Eric Lemieux!
Brian Crafford has been with LandDesign for three years, and in the industry for seven. He graduated from UNC Charlotte with a Master of Science in Engineering and concentration in civil/water resources. Brian works as a Project Engineer on the design and production of residential and commercial construction documents. He has a strong desire to learn and grow professionally, while producing practical, cost effective design solutions for our clients. Fun Facts: Outside of being a go-getter at work, Brian enjoys cycling, swimming and participating in Triathlons.
Aaron Wagoner, now a PE, has been with LandDesign for four years as a Design Engineer. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from North Carolina State University shortly before going to work for a small architecture firm for a year. Aaron’s projects have ranged from the LYNX Blue Line Light Rail extension, to storm drainage improvement projects for the City of Charlotte to residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional projects as well. Fun fact: Aaron is a huge Carolina Panthers and Wolfpack fan while also enjoying outdoor activities such as camping and backpacking.
Tyler Howell, now a PE, has been with LandDesign for four years after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from UNC Charlotte. He provides engineering design services for residential and commercial land development projects, focusing on stormwater management, erosion control, and site planning. Tyler is a passionate designer, delivering the places where people live, work and play. Fun Facts: He would like to experience as much of the world as possible, and make an effort to give something back along the way. He also enjoys playing golf and reading.
Matt Grigsby has been with LandDesign for three years, after graduating from Auburn University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. From schematic design to full permitting, his focus lies in commercial site design, implementing skills with stormwater design, roadway design, wastewater collection, water distribution, erosion control, etc. Matt is very driven, with great interest in how his work affects other people. He finds joy in seeing a project through to completion. Fun fact: In his free time, he enjoys coaching youth baseball, camping and travelling to watch his Auburn Tigers. War Eagle!
Eric Lemieux has been with LandDesign for one year after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and minor in Green Engineering from Virginia Tech. His main area of focus is in site development, with a heavy skill interest in graphic design. He believes the most beneficial experiences are ones that expose you to something new, or through a mentorship within an organization. Fun fact: Eric enjoys spending a week at the beach, walking a round of golf, getting out for an early morning run, and most importantly, getting a group from the office out for trivia on Thursdays – #triviamatters.
Time to celebrate! #PEexamsmatter
LandDesign Gains New Associate
We are pleased to announce that Adam Martin has been promoted to an Associate of the firm in the Charlotte office! From growing up in the Coastal South and tinkering in his grandparent’s old barn, Adam realized his appreciation for the landscape at a young age. Later while working and traveling the world with […]
We are pleased to announce that Adam Martin has been promoted to an Associate of the firm in the Charlotte office!
From growing up in the Coastal South and tinkering in his grandparent’s old barn, Adam realized his appreciation for the landscape at a young age. Later while working and traveling the world with the US military he came to understand the importance of equitable place making in urban environments. As a former US Army Ranger with 4 combat tours, Adam believes service and duty can be shown through socially conscious design for our communities. Hailing from Mississippi State and UNC Charlotte’s Masters of Urban Design program, he has continued to push boundaries in the studio since he began working at LandDesign in 2012. From complex urban mixed-use projects such as OneDurham, to the RailTrail Framework Plan, he most enjoys crafting a great story about great places.
Adam is involved in the design and management on a range of projects from intimate courtyard amenity spaces, multifamily housing and commercial projects, to master planned communities and open spaces. His primary focus is on holistic land development solutions and coordinating urban infill projects with commuter infrastructure. He is most frequently involved in the visioning of urban infill projects; and campus projects for LandDesign’s Charlotte based academic clients. Nearly all of Adam’s projects involve creating physical and social connections to public amenities and transit infrastructure while integrating them with built and natural environment.
We can expect many inspiring moments from him in the coming years, as well as a solid mentoring of incoming staff in our culture and craft. Congrats, Adam!
Promotions to Wrap up a Successful 2015
We are excited to end the year with two more promotions that are indicative of the opportunities we have ahead of us in 2016. Chad Kovaleski has been made a Director in our new San Francisco office, and Beth Poovey is our new Director of Public Parks, Greenways and Streetscapes. As we grow and expand […]
We are excited to end the year with two more promotions that are indicative of the opportunities we have ahead of us in 2016. Chad Kovaleski has been made a Director in our new San Francisco office, and Beth Poovey is our new Director of Public Parks, Greenways and Streetscapes. As we grow and expand in new markets, we are committed to aligning talent and resources to ensure we can continue to deliver services consistent with the LandDesign brand. These promotions are a direct reflection of that commitment.
Chad joined LandDesign in 2012, and has been focused on urban design and waterfront projects all around the world. He is a second-generation Landscape Architect (his parents were both Landscape Designers), who is passionate about integrating the bold use of plant materials, hardscape and paving into his designs. Chad was born in Wisconsin and graduated from Iowa State, where he was a 4-year letter winner on the Men’s golf team. As someone who loves to travel and take in new experiences (and food), Chad has been pivotal in growing our West Coast office. “Chad has an incredible portfolio that he has built over the past decade, both with LandDesign and his previous firms, and we are excited to continue to support his growth here in San Francisco,” said Rhett Crocker.
Beth has over 16 years of experience in greenway, trail, streetscape and park design. As a known expert in this field, she played an integral role as Project Manager for the popular Little Sugar Creek Greenway, and she currently is leading the Cross Charlotte Trail Vision Plan. Combining her sociology and landscape architecture degrees, her focus and passion has evolved into planning and design of urban open space that authentically integrates community assets with environmental stewardship opportunities. “The world is starting to notice what great work LandDesign is doing on greenways, bikeways and trails,” said Rhett Crocker, “And we all look forward to seeing how Beth can elevate our brand to the next level.” When Beth isn’t soaking up her time with her children relearning how to do a cartwheel, she enjoys gardening and traveling to experience new places and cultures.
In addition to this group of promotions, we had three other rounds of recognitions this past year that can be referenced here, here and here. We are grateful for the diligent work of all our employees as we wrap up a successful 2015. It is exciting to have the opportunity to make these acknowledgements, and position ourselves for an incredible year ahead. Cheers!
Take Back the Streets [and Other Public Spaces]
Imagine a world where cities were designed for the pedestrian; where both 8-year-old children and 80 year old grandparents could walk or bike safely; where every child has the luxury of a park or play area within a quarter mile of their house; where adults over the age of 65 felt inclusive in their community. […]
Imagine a world where cities were designed for the pedestrian; where both 8-year-old children and 80 year old grandparents could walk or bike safely; where every child has the luxury of a park or play area within a quarter mile of their house; where adults over the age of 65 felt inclusive in their community. This dream is possible and it’s the notion behind Gil Penalosa’s, internationally renowned urban expert and founder of 8 80 Cities, speech at the Knight Foundation Leadership Breakfast. Gil spoke to a room full of politicians and planners, designers and developers about the imperative sense of urgency behind initiatives and implementation strategies relating to urban public space to plan for a better quality of life and tomorrow’s progress.
Two hundred years ago, human life expectancy was 39-years-old. Technology, medicine and other factors have contributed to extending the life expectancy well beyond that figure. Half the people, in the world’s history, over the age of 65 are alive today. Our world has seen an exponential human growth rate: 200 million people were alive in 1900; 3.5 billion in 2015; and 7.0 billion are estimated for 2050. Yes, we will double our world’s population in a 35 year time period. This isn’t science fiction, folks. This is pure growth projection.
You may be asking, well how does this affect Charlotte, NC? Charlotte ranked highest in population change in the last 20 years and is estimated to grow by 70% in the next 30 years. The numbers are astounding. Mecklenburg County had 90,685 residents over the age of 65 in 2012 and that number is expected to be 204,653 residents by 2030—a 126% growth! Our cities must be designed for people of all ages, not just for the healthy, athletic 30-year-olds.
So, what can be done to improve the quality of life for everyone? If you answered expand the highway network and add more cars on the road, well I’m sorry to say but you answered wrong. You see, 27% of all trips are less than a mile. That’s a great reason to walk or bike to your destination, by incorporating alternative, healthy modes of transportation into your daily life. The unfortunate and alarming news is that 1 in 3 people in the United States are obese; 60% of people over age 65 are obese; and 28% of Mecklenburg County falls in that category. Now let’s focus on how design and planning decisions can make change happen to alleviate this epidemic.
Step 01. Walking is inherently human. Birds fly, fish swim and humans walk. It should be safe for all people to walk in a city. I mean every trip begins and ends with walking, right?
Step 02. The biggest tax cut we can give to city residents is the luxury of creating a place where families are not required to have a second car.
Step 03. Streets encompass 15-20% of cities and 70-90% of public space. The way we design our streets is critical to changing the urban landscape and quality of life for our community. People should be the first priority, not cars.
Step 04. Slow down the speed limit. Pedestrian and bike crashes are at an all-time high in the last 13 years. If someone were to be hit by a car traveling 20 mph, the death rate is 5%; 40% at 30 mph; and 80% at 40 mph. The numbers speak for themselves.
Step 05. Safety first. A minimum grid of protected bike lanes is a must. Also, giving the pedestrian and cyclist a 5-second headway allows a head start when crossing a road and helps deter confusion with drivers.
Step 06. Design for all in mind. Adults over the age of 65 are the largest portion of the demographic sector that use parks. Less than 20% of parks have a walking loop, which is the single most important feature in a park. Benches are second, then programming. Alongside children, the 65+ group is a great resource to tap into; we must provide places that cater to intergenerational mixing, creating a city for all people.
To conclude, Gil stated, “We are too focused on the urgency of today, but we must be looking at the issues for tomorrow.” We must plan accordingly and create vibrant and healthy cities. Gil mentioned there are 5 elements of change:
- Sense of urgency
- Political will
- Citizen engagement
These changes contribute to decisions that are not technical or economical, they are political. Gil stressed this is not a Democratic or Republican issue — we must work together to create a city for the people, not for the issues. “Citizens are paying every two weeks for our government to get something done, not to create excuses.” If we care about each other, we care about our city.
By: Amanda Zullo
A Tale of Two Lectures: From Carolina to California
“We’re both enabled and burdened by that which has come before us.”—Stefanos Polyzoides Two lectures occurred in the same week in Charlotte. Both were conducted from bi-coastal lecturers, and both were a forum on public space, housing, and the comprehensive need to understand historical context and precedent, and proper infill development. Tuesday’s Eye […]
“We’re both enabled and burdened by that which has come before us.”—Stefanos Polyzoides
Two lectures occurred in the same week in Charlotte. Both were conducted from bi-coastal lecturers, and both were a forum on public space, housing, and the comprehensive need to understand historical context and precedent, and proper infill development.
Tuesday’s Eye on Development—Civic by Design forum’s topic rested heavily on how infill development is changing historic neighborhoods in the Queen City. Sure, swanky rooftops, structured parking and contemporary facades are en vogue; residents are flocking to these residential blocks like their building is the latest trend, until the novelty wears off when the next new development is built. However, Tom Low, a local architect and urban planner who organizes the free discussion series, advocates that what’s not being properly addressed is maintaining the quality of the public realm. Which would you prefer—a building that provides a blank parking deck on street level or ground floor restaurants and retail? The answer, although inherently obvious, does not always make its way to the drawing table. This is a hot topic in our local development context as redevelopment is reshaping and redefining the character of our beloved neighborhoods. With the City’s zoning ordinance being severely outdated (last time it was updated was back in 2000), City Council is preparing to embark on a rewrite. Stronger design standards and higher barriers to entry are two ways in which development could help create a more viable neighborhood, with paying particular attention to the public realm.
Thursday’s Housing and the Architecture of the Missing Middle lecture advocated to make room for the middle, by providing helpful reminders on maintaining balance in design. Stefanos Polyzoides, renowned architect and urbanist of Moule and Polyzoides, stressed that there is “a constant conflict between that which is historic and new….One must balance between development and preservation.” By understanding history, Stefanos advocates to aim high and not repeat the mistakes from the last fifty years of development. He discussed how “Crayola zoning is a great thing for five year olds” and how the “FAR mechanism is the work of the devil.” FAR, or floor area ratio, is calculated as Gross Building Area/Lot Area and is determined by the amount of land in a development. This proportion of FAR to land is the fundamental issue which has spawned the development we see today. Moule suggests instead of letting FAR dictate design, designers should focus on typology and density. Tower buildings and single-family are two ends of the residential development spectrum. We should focus our efforts on the middle types of housing, as it is middle density that makes a great city. Stefanos offered a plethora of precedents, all stemming from his work in California. The main themes and takeaways of his middle model work:
- Density can be achieved without destroying the neighborhood. Mix up the housing typologies; don’t make your design homogenous.
- Make housing look like part of the urban fabric by fitting your building into the neighborhood character.
- Be unconventional and unique, differentiate your building from those in your context. Make it diverse.
- Ensure that the building signature changes, having no run of 100 feet or more be the same.
- If you make a place right, people will find it and will want to live here.
- Take density and tame it.
- Unique, unconventional building types ultimately add value within the housing market and can be very financially lucrative. The chance is worth the end payoff.
Stefanos’ closing comments to the group reiterated the importance of historical precedent, urban fabric and learning when to say “no” to a development project. “Flex your muscles and eat your pride depending on the job as an architect,” he stated. With the correlation between Tom’s and Stefanos’ lectures, it’s evident that these development stresses are not only felt in our local context, but on a national and even global scale.
By: Amanda Zullo
A Neighborhood Living Room – What’s All the Buzz About?
Knight Foundation. 8 80 Cities. Varian Shrum. NHLR, or Neighborhood Living Room. If you haven’t been on social media lately or watched the news, these buzz words have generated a lot of attention in the Charlotte community. Varian Shrum won a $5000 grant from the Knight Foundation to create her vision—an outdoor living room in […]
Knight Foundation. 8 80 Cities. Varian Shrum. NHLR, or Neighborhood Living Room. If you haven’t been on social media lately or watched the news, these buzz words have generated a lot of attention in the Charlotte community. Varian Shrum won a $5000 grant from the Knight Foundation to create her vision—an outdoor living room in South End. “I’ve lived in South End for two years and I’ve noticed there’s not much public space,” Shrum said. “We have lots of new development, thousands of new residents, but nowhere to just gather and connect. I wanted to create a place for people to come together where you don’t have to pay to sit outside.”
The NHLR was stationed in the Dilworth Artisan Station, adjacent to the LYNX Blue Line. The LYNX Blue Line’s spine spurred design projects culminating in one of LandDesign’s very own Rail Trail project. As Richard Petersheim states in relation to the NHLR, “It’s nice to see the momentum building from our Rail Trail efforts.” The Rail Trail has received a $412,000 grant from ArtPlace America, along with an additional $20,000 grant from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Community Foundation, gifted towards public art installations along the 3.3-mile trial. In a game of find and seek, patrons were able to witness one of these art installations during the NHLR weekend—delicate discrete dresses, made of leaves, were hidden and hanging in the trees accompanied by little plastic toys and homey space installations, staged at the base of trees and shrubs. The art installation was meant to evoke a fairy like presence in nature, centered on the delight of discovery.
Several LandDesigners felt passionate about offering their services to help Varian’s dream come to life. Kate Pearce began the conversation advocating that it would be beneficial to have some LandDesigners help out with this amazing community initiative. Amanda Zullo, aka “Albert Design-stein” served as designer and renderer extraordinaire on Varian Shrum’s Strike Team—a core group of individuals who met weekly over a three month period to construct, create, plan and project manage the NHLR. Monica Mitevski, mastermind of all things graphic, and Lori Race, designer and contact for LandDesign’s landscape pop up projects, were consulted for their services.
NHLR’s pop-up space was open to the public from October 15th to October 18th. Gil Penalosa, founder of 8 80 Cities and renowned urban speaker/expert, spoke at the Knights Foundation Leadership Breakfast earlier in the week and kicked off the NHLR grand opening ceremony with a speech geared to excite and educate the public on the impact of these efforts. The entire weekend was planned with various programs to cater to the community: pop-up coffee shops, food vendors, beer samples and boutique shopping by local restaurants and entrepreneurs; live music that all ages could appreciate; a special Dilworth Artisan Station art crawl, which only occurs four times a year to the public; outdoor morning yoga to connect with oneself and with one’s community; storytelling and pumpkin painting for children; and even a concluding Sunday afternoon Panthers tailgate.
The NHLR programmed space provided the opportunity for all ages to come together and interact in a comfortable setting. The moveable furniture was key to the dynamic ebb and flow of the personalized space. “It’s interesting to note how the public space was really enlivened and engaged when there were program events occurring simultaneously. It makes you think about how the success of a space relies heavily on adjacent uses, providing another opportunity to attract people,” stated Lauren Cline, a fellow LandDesigner who attended the NHLR all four days.
Varian’s biggest takeaway is “the importance of letting people own the vision with you. People will participate in a movement like this if they feel invested. People will feel welcome to linger in a space if they see themselves reflected there. The main reason NHLR was a success was that the people it intended to serve were involved from the beginning.”
“I love how the NHLR has brought people, children and pets together; this connection is very important to a community,” said one patron. Another remarked, “Varian’s vision is a take on what Europe has been doing all along; by creating a piazza for the people, communities can come together. I look forward to the next installment, but hope this generates enough momentum to create a more permanent place.” Varian has the long-term in mind, too. “I hope the positive experience my neighbors had in this temporary public space will inspire them to advocate for permanent ones,” she said. “Giving input to the Planning Department’s re-write of the Zoning Ordinance would be a great way to guarantee these kinds of places are included in future development.” She intends to use the rest of the grant to create another pop up location in Charlotte sometime next year, after she and the Strike Team get some rest. Stay tuned by following the Charlotte Living Room at:@CLTLivingRoom, CLTLivingRoom.com, and #CLTLivingRoom.
By: Amanda Zullo
Draw Back the Curtain, the XCLT Show Is About to Start
Opening Bite: Alternative transportation in this town is on everyone’s radar. Gone are the days when funds were only allocated to the highway and road system, while insignificant funds went towards other viable options. Light rail transit, bike lanes and greenways have become the new mode of transportation to navigate around Charlotte. Main Characters: Staff […]
Opening Bite: Alternative transportation in this town is on everyone’s radar. Gone are the days when funds were only allocated to the highway and road system, while insignificant funds went towards other viable options. Light rail transit, bike lanes and greenways have become the new mode of transportation to navigate around Charlotte. Main Characters: Staff from City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, LandDesign, Toole Design, Kimley Horn, STV Group. Plot: It certainly hasn’t been an easy road to get to our multi-modal network. This effort takes patience and perseverance, planners and politicians to come together to decide how our city will grow sustainably and offer better quality of life for its citizens. Climax: Hard work pays off. The City of Charlotte is partnering with the County to create the 26-mile trail and greenway facility that will stretch from the Town of Pineville, through Center City and on to the UNC Charlotte campus and Cabarrus County line. Conclusion: Progress is made when people work together to make visions happen. You’ve read the preview, now let’s get on to the actual show.
Today wasn’t just another Saturday in October. It was a pivotal moment in this long-standing history of alternative transportation; today unveiled the Cross Charlotte Trail (XCLT)’s Master Plan to the public. Three tents were set up: one main tent showing both segments of the trail at Elizabeth Park for public interaction and comments on the alignment, cross sections and other displays set up to educate the public; one tent at Cordelia Park visited by riders on the north bike tour, which displayed the Uptown to UNCC segment of the trail; and one tent close to Park Road Shopping Center, visited by riders on the south bike tour, which displayed the Brandywine to Tyvola segment of the trail. With the most optimal fall weather conditions, Charlotteans had the opportunity to take a walk or bike tour on Little Sugar Creek Greenway (LSCG) with City staff members and Beth Poovey, who represented LandDesign’s valuable consulting role on the project.
While on the tour, participants learned about the continuity that will occur between LSCG and XCLT; how art pieces, such as the bronze statues, help tell Charlotte’s history along the trail; how lighting, although not initially prioritized in a greenway’s budget, plays an important role to the safety of the trail and how XCLT will accommodate this amenity; and how there is a desire and need for separate zones, especially in high traffic areas, to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians comfortably.
The north tour highlighted the challenges associated of working with existing highways and infrastructure, the importance of trail safety and perceived safety (people need to be safe but also feel safe), and how the trail should spur economic development and housing opportunities outside of the existing neighborhoods. Connectivity between Optimist Park and Toby Creek Greenway, close to UNCC, was mentioned having a few potential routes.
Participants on the south tour were able to witness how blurred edges between public and private realms exist, like at The Metropolitan, and how this is extremely successful to the trail’s livelihood; programmed areas adjacent to the trail, such as retail and restaurants, attract many people and provide an incentive to stop, shop and linger. Using this experience as a precedent, it is the hope of XCLT to create great placemaking opportunities, allowing users to meander between the two realms freely.
Although continuity will exist between LSCG and XCLT, participants learned about the contrasts as well. In addition to bike and pedestrian separated zones, XCLT will be wider than LSCG in some areas to accommodate more users. When the trail is adjacent to a roadway, a vertical buffer will separate the cyclist from the automobile for added safety. Key nodes, such as fountains and kiosks, along LSCG are located in the center of the greenway to slow traffic down; on XCLT, these features will most likely be constructed off to the side so as not to disrupt the traffic pattern.
The unveiling was received enthusiastically by participants. The general consensus was participants were really engaged, interested and wanted to learn more. Several participants asked what they could do to help speed up the process, what did they need to vote on, etc. City and County staff, alongside LandDesigners who worked the event, were thrilled with the feedback and support. Looks to me like the XCLT Master Plan unveiling was a huge hit at the box office. But don’t throw away your popcorn just yet, stay tuned for previews of the grand finale by following #XCLT on Twitter.
By: Amanda Zullo
PARK(ing) Day from Two Different Cities’ Perspectives
Charlotte’s 2015 PARK(ing) Day By Amanda Zullo It’s a Friday morning in the fall. The air is crisp, the sun is slowly rising and the morning commute has started making its way into Uptown Charlotte for the final day of the work week. North Tryon is already a hustle and bustle as morning patrons stroll […]
Charlotte’s 2015 PARK(ing) Day
By Amanda Zullo
It’s a Friday morning in the fall. The air is crisp, the sun is slowly rising and the morning commute has started making its way into Uptown Charlotte for the final day of the work week. North Tryon is already a hustle and bustle as morning patrons stroll the street with their morning coffee, their phones glued to their ears, going about their morning as they do always. But, this is not a normal Friday morning. Bystanders stop and stare, give the second glance back to the street as they see a subtle shift in their city’s streetscape: where once a parking space had lived, little parklets are in process of being put together. Today is PARK(ing) Day.
PARK(ing) Day is an annual worldwide event where artists, designers and citizens transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks. The project began in 2005 when Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio, converted a single metered parking space into a temporary public park in downtown San Francisco. The mission of PARK(ing) Day is to call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate critical debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat … at least until the meter runs out!
The Charlotte LandDesign office teamed up with 505Design and Metrolina Landscapes to create our parklet. The setup crew began at 7 a.m., delivering four truckloads of supplies and team volunteers to setup shop between 6th and 7th Street on North Tryon, across from Duckworth’s Grill & Taphouse. With the platform in place, our team quickly devised a strategy to lay the pavers and prop the “Park” spray-painted palettes on the back wall. Even the crew from Metrolina was impressed with our brick laying abilities! With a plethora of plantings, our once bland parking space transformed into an active urban plaza, fully equipped with vibrantly colored site furnishings from LandDesign and 505’s offices. The addition of an oversized Instagram picture frame and a palette-turned-chalkboard element allowed bystanders to socially engage in our space beyond just occupying and observing.
The parklet was active throughout the day, as various employees volunteered their time as site ambassadors, answering questions to the public and monitoring the space from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The team received a lot of great feedback and compliments; several people mentioned they saw our parklet photos on various social media platforms and that incentivized them to come check out the space. Others were just walking by, not aware about PARK(ing) Day and eager to find out more.
The judges stopped by after lunch, as we were the sixth and final parklet in the competition. They were impressed by the juxtaposition of industrial contemporary character of the palettes and vibrant color furnishings, with the traditional pavers and soft addition of plantings. They appreciated the use of pavers, as opposed to faux grass, as it provided a sense of richness and thought to materiality. The judges had fun with the social media/community activism piece, as they each stopped to take their photo and write a message on the chalk board. Lastly, the judges appreciated the character and mood of our space, as our site was fortunately nestled under the tree foliage for most of the day, providing a comfortable, cool place to spend time outdoors. In the end, the judges chose the team from Stantec | Neighboring Concepts | We Love CLT as the winner of the Best Parklet Competition. Although we would have loved to win, it was great to see so many companies advocating this cause and creating awareness for the mission of PARK(ing) Day.
Washington DC’s 2015 PARK(ing) Day
By Alison Peckett and Jacob Bennett
The mission of PARK(ing) Day is to not only re-think the use of public space but to imagine how we can creatively re-purpose materials for these places. As we reflected on our parklet from 2014, the decision was made to minimize our impact on creating additional waste, and think of creative ways we could re-use things we routinely collect or throw out around the office. This instigated the great printer tube collection of 2015: a joint effort between LandDesign and our printing partners at ABC Printing. As months passed and tubes began to accumulate, we realized that there is a fine line between collecting a few tubes for their creative re-use and that abrupt moment when you realize you’ve accumulated hundreds of printer tubes. One thing led to another and the next thing we knew we had HUNDREDS of tubes piling up in our office with PARK(ing) Day only weeks away. How many tubes is too many tubes? What would we actually do with these tubes?
The next logical step was to brainstorm all of the fun, crazy ways that we could re-use the tubes. We had ideas and models that transformed the tubes into planter walls, rocking chairs, ring-toss games and even musical instruments! We ultimately decided that we wanted to take this seemingly utilitarian object, the printing tube, and create a bold and artful piece of furniture. The structure itself would only use two simple materials, printing tubes and paper clips, allowing the assembly of the tubes and clips to be the focal element that ultimately eludes to the construction and materiality of the design. On the day of construction- we went back and forth on the best method of construction and eventually decided that using paper clips was, surprisingly, the strongest and fastest method to secure the tubes to one another. Five hours later as we clipped the last tubes together with blistered fingers, we saw the chair really come together.
Early Saturday morning, there was a great group effort to get everything mobilized and to our spot in front of Raul’s Menswear on King Street in Old Town Alexandria. A quick assessment showed us that in several truck loads all of our elements would be moved to the site. Rolling out the carpet of green turf quickly claimed the parking space. The tube furniture being constructed in modular sections allowed us to quickly organize our parklet. The final touches came with the last truck load of plants lent to us by KT Enterprise, social media signs and lots of cushions. Everyone enjoyed spending a beautiful day visiting the LandDesign Park on King Street in Old Town Alexandria. Visitors stopped by to lounge in our modular seating structure, eat lunch, take pictures and ask us questions about how we collected so many tubes. It was great to get out of the office for an hour or two, enjoy the weather and have conversations with inquisitive tourists and locals alike.
As landscape architects, we have a responsibility to not only think creatively about the built environment but how to do so in an environmentally-conscious way. It was apparent this year that by reducing the labor and waste of our design, the overall experience felt that much more rewarding. Pedestrians passing by were not only in awe but also inspired by the simple ingenuity of our parklet and how we used materials in an eco-friendly way. As we packed up our parklet and moved back into our normal grind, it is nice to have our 2015 PARK(ing) Day remind us of the important (and fun) role landscape architects have in informing and influencing the public (design) realm.
LandDesign’s Hot with Five Summer Promotions
By: Brianna Meurer We are pleased to announce the promotions of Marci Bonner, Katie Pavlechko, Joe Giangrandi and Khristine Giangrandi to Associates in the Washington DC office, and Mark Kime to Associate in the Charlotte office. “Their individual contributions to this office and the firm cover all of the creative technical, project management, internal and […]
We are pleased to announce the promotions of Marci Bonner, Katie Pavlechko, Joe Giangrandi and Khristine Giangrandi to Associates in the Washington DC office, and Mark Kime to Associate in the Charlotte office. “Their individual contributions to this office and the firm cover all of the creative technical, project management, internal and external focus of an Associate here at LandDesign,” said Stephanie Pankiewicz, LandDesign Partner.
Marci began her career with LandDesign on Valentine’s Day of 2005 after graduating from the University of Maryland with a Landscape Architecture degree. As a project manager, she provides guidance to less-experienced colleagues while also producing illustrative and technical drawings. Besides performing all aspects of a project’s scope from master planning to as-built drawings, she has a passion for planting design and project theming. Fun Fact: Marci brings her pug, Molly, to work on Wednesdays. When Molly is not taking naps, she protect the office from dogs, toddlers, mailmen and any other lifeform passing by on the street.
Since joining LandDesign in August 2010, Katie has been involved in many projects at different stages of design, with a focus on project visioning, site and master planning, and project entitlement. She is a graduate of Ball State University with a Bachelors in Landscape Architecture. She is dedicated to promoting sustainable growth and development in the Washington, DC metro region, and is a Young Leader with the Urban Land Institute, a group of real estate experts focused on progressive market-oriented development. Fun Fact: A 2013 vacation to Iceland inspired her and her fiancé to start their collection of kitschy plates from around the globe.
Joe Giangrandi made the transition over to LandDesign in December 2010 after starting his career in South Carolina. He graduated from Clemson University with a Bachelors in Landscape Architecture in 2005. Joe is a strong designer in all aspects of design and has been the main driver and director of his StudioDesign³ movie creations. Fun Fact: In his spare time, he enjoys body boarding, rock scrambling, hiking and playing the guitar.
Khristine Giangrandi, married to Joe, joined LandDesign in March of 2011. She is a Clemson University graduate with a Bachelor degree in Landscape Architecture. She enjoys conceptual design and collaborating with a team to transform the concept into 3D graphics. Khristine believes that understanding the tiny, minutia details of a project inform the overall big-picture design, and makes you a well-rounded designer. Fun Fact: She has a guilty pleasure for competition shows such as Project Runway and Face Off.
Mark Kime moved to Charlotte and joined LandDesign in 2001 shortly after receiving a Landscape Architecture degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He holds a great deal of experience in the Charlotte region working hand in hand with the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, as well as many of the surrounding jurisdictions in both North and South Carolina. He is married with two kids and enjoys spending the weekends outdoors. Fun Fact: You can always find him jamming out to rock music such as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Kings of Leon.
This is an exciting time for LandDesign and we’re thrilled these opportunities present themselves through the dedication and perseverance of our employees. So next time you see these folks walking the streets, give them a high five for their hard work and spark up a conversation with them – they have a lot of wisdom to share. Congratulations!
LandDesign in the Sunshine State!
By: Ashley Clark Since opening our new Orlando office, many have asked, “Why Orlando?” Aside from the obvious reasons, The City Beautiful, palm trees and sunshine, we see Florida as the ideal new location to offer our nearly 40 years of experience in designing great places, both nationally and internationally. Florida is currently adding […]
Since opening our new Orlando office, many have asked, “Why Orlando?” Aside from the obvious reasons, The City Beautiful, palm trees and sunshine, we see Florida as the ideal new location to offer our nearly 40 years of experience in designing great places, both nationally and internationally.
Florida is currently adding approximately 900 new residents a day, and recently surpassed New York to become the third most populated state in the U.S. With this growth comes a desire for communities to develop in a smart way, and create or improve infrastructure that will support this continued growth and new development. Our nearly four decades of experience has been built upon bringing visionary design to the development of desired communities, including dense urban cities to new master planned developments. We have created plans for transit, light rail and infrastructure systems that support urbanization and growth, and ensure that open space has been set aside for recreation and enjoyment.
Florida also holds opportunity for LandDesign to bring its experience in large-scale master planning to the state’s large landholders. We believe that the first key to a successful, long-term master plan is a vision. We passionately and responsibly embark upon this approach in our work. Land, and large swaths of land, are not something that we can create any more of – these projects must be planned with the future in mind. We believe that no project should be approached as a commodity. This is especially true in large land projects. A great vision and plan is necessary to ensure that short-term decisions do not handicap long-term opportunity. Our clients know that we understand how to design what people want, create a plan that can be built, bring together the right mix of uses, and work with them to produce the right policies to ensure lasting success of the community.
We have a proven track record of being creative difference makers. Because of our interdisciplinary practice, we can tackle complicated logistic, infrastructure, transportation and technical aspects of a project that are necessary to implement a vision. Especially in the unique, environmental landscapes of Florida, we understand how to bring all of this together in a distinctive and logical way without compromising the story of a place. This approach, unique in the industry, sets us apart from our peers and makes us an excellent fit to create great places that matter.
Our international portfolio includes waterfront destination planning and design, cruise ports and mixed use resort communities allowing Central Florida to be the perfect hub for collaboration with many of the world’s leading design consultants. We believe being located in Orlando provides a great opportunity for us to be that much more accessible to our clients and consultants who are working in places beyond our borders.
We couldn’t be more excited to be here and see LandDesign’s contribution to the landscape of the Sunshine State and beyond!
NorthEnd: Charlotte’s Next Great Neighborhood
By: Richard Petersheim, Adam Martin and Amanda Zullo By 2020, Charlotte Center City will be the central hub of an “Applied Innovation Corridor,” beginning in SouthEnd, extending through Uptown and “NorthEnd”—a 5.6-square-mile[charlotteobserver.com] hip, artsy new sector north of Uptown along the North Tryon Corridor—and linking onward to the UNC Charlotte campus. While banking and hospitality institutions […]
By 2020, Charlotte Center City will be the central hub of an “Applied Innovation Corridor,” beginning in SouthEnd, extending through Uptown and “NorthEnd”—a 5.6-square-mile[charlotteobserver.com] hip, artsy new sector north of Uptown along the North Tryon Corridor—and linking onward to the UNC Charlotte campus. While banking and hospitality institutions continue to serve as the economic backbone of Charlotte, new technologies, industrial sectors and emerging markets bring greater prosperity and investment to Center City. These sectors are looking to NorthEnd for development growth and opportunity. Currently under way in NorthEnd, the CAMP NorthEnd Redevelopment Area, along with new initiatives like the Brightwalk community and the Fire Department Headquarters have built upon the area’s unique residential character and industrial history. The Hercules Industrial Park used to be a Ford Assembly Plant and later became a missile plant during World War II. The result of this revitalization effort: a distinctly walkable, mixed-use urban industrial park with distinctive neighborhoods, like Brightwalk and Tryon Hills. This area fosters an atmosphere of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship; provides unparalleled connectivity for moving goods and people; and creates an exciting urban living and working experience linking the NorthEnd to NoDa (North Davidson), Belmont and the larger “Applied Innovation Corridor.”
The NorthEnd Vision came about as visionaries thought of this transit thread as an “Applied Innovation Corridor;” positioned to be the significant catalyst to bridge the divide between the North Uptown area and NoDa along this corridor. CAMP NorthEnd, a 100-acre parcel prime for prosperity, is the nexus of this meeting ground. CAMP NorthEnd is set to be the master planned multi-modal urban neighborhood that will redefine innovative, sustainable development for Charlotte and the region. Once complete, CAMP NorthEnd will house over 3 million square feet of office, retail and residential space, as well as 18 acres of integrated public parks and plazas. CAMP NorthEnd will strive to be net energy positive in every aspect of its community. This redevelopment represents the rebirth of one of the most prolific and historic sites in Charlotte.
The “Applied Innovation Corridor” currently has significant momentum from both private and public sector investment. These investments have catalyzed the area and have begun to transform the identity of NorthEnd into a dynamic residential and business address. Major infrastructure projects of roadway improvements, transit, and stream restorations continue to be funded on all sides of the “Applied Innovation Corridor,” which will provide for a powerful investment platform. Current planned NorthEnd investment projects include the following:
- LYNX Blue Line Extension (Northeast Corridor), $1B
- Red Line Commuter Rail, $450M
- Brightwalk Redevelopment, $100M
- 911 Call Center Campus, $65M
- NC Music Factory, $35M
- 2014 Community Investment Plan for the Applied Innovation Corridor, $30M
- Fire Department Headquarters, $16M
- Tryon Street Improvements, $9.5M
- Current NorthEnd Infrastructure Improvements Underway, $4M
- Statesville Avenue Improvements, $1.5M
- Irwin Creek Stream Restoration, $0.5M
Transit and Economic Development
Transit and economic development go hand in hand; one in turn will inevitably influence the other. “A healthy public transit system is vital to a thriving regional economy. Investing in public transit fuels local economic activity by creating new jobs, attracting commerce and investment, and enhancing business profits and productivity.”[partnersfortransit.com] Charlotte, with lessons learned from other fast growing, car-reliant, southern cities like Atlanta, set the intention to evolve as a community that cares and carefully considers its development growth pattern. As noted in the Center City 2020 Vision Plan, a comprehensive strategic plan that provides a “big picture” framework and unifying vision for Center City’s growth and development,[charlottecentercity.com] Charlotte decided on design decisions that integrated multi-modal transit opportunities in conjunction with trending development areas.
The Lynx Blue Line, Charlotte’s light rail system operating on a 9.6-mile transit spine from South Charlotte to Uptown, provides the platform for transit-oriented development to spur and catalyze change in a morphing urban landscape. The LYNX Blue Line Extension (northeast corridor), set to open in 2017, is an addition of a 9.3 mile alignment,[charmeck.org] from Ninth Street in Center City through NoDa, heading north and terminating on UNC Charlotte’s campus. Once the Blue Line is complete, riders will be able to travel to destinations along the twenty mile transit line through Charlotte.
The Red Line Commuter Rail is a proposed 30-mile project that will operate along the existing Norfolk Southern rail line (the “O” line) from Center City Charlotte to Mooresville, in southern Iredell County. The alignment runs parallel to Graham Street through NorthEnd.[charmeck.org]
Brightwalk, on the site of Double Oaks, a 576-home community built in 1950, is a redevelopment of a brownfield community one mile north of Center City. Brightwalk is one of eight neighborhoods that make up the key communities in the “Applied Innovation Corridor.” “Brightwalk is one neighborhood in a mosaic of neighborhoods and it’s the mosaic that creates the fabric of an urban community,” says N.C. State Representative Kelly Alexander Jr., a Charlotte native.[clclt.com] Brightwalk’s master plan fuses 98 acres of parks, greenway trails and roads with commercial and mixed-income residential uses, as well as environmental art development by the McColl Center. Brightwalk is complemented by improvements made to Statesville Avenue, in addition to work being done to instigate change in the adjacent Druid Hills neighborhood and NorthEnd area.
Additionally, the Tryon Hills area builds on the unique residential character and industrial history of NorthEnd. It is poised to become a vibrant community hub, providing diversity of its housing stock, places to gather, green space, commercial and incubator space for individuals, families, and businesses looking for a walkable urban lifestyle. This area is prime for development opportunities for both new infill development as well as forward-thinking adaptive reuse.
Prior to the 911 Communication Center, emergency services were scattered around the Charlotte metro area in separate facilities. By consolidating services, this 74,000 SF facility presented a unique opportunity to improve all functions in a coordinated, well-planned system thereby improving the lifesaving response time and reducing the critical response time. The facility is planned to have an operational staff of approximately 460 people based on a 2030 planning horizon. The facility will staff: Police and Fire 911/Dispatch, Emergency Operations Center, 311 Call Center, Charlotte DOT Traffic Camera Division, Mecklenburg County Sherriff’s Communications Division, and the City Data Center. The center is located at 1315 North Graham Street, just north of the new Charlotte Fire Department Headquarters Building.[charmeck.org]
The N.C. Music Factory, a 50-acre development, is home to restaurants, bars and concert venues as well as smaller businesses and office space. Two apartment complexes are under development with hope to build a hotel in the future. In fall 2015, Avid change, a fast-growing software company, announced the building of their new headquarters at the N.C. Music Factory. This location will add at least 600 jobs, stirring hopes for technology sector growth and redevelopment as part of the vision of the “Applied Innovation Corridor.” Once Avid change moves in, the N.C. Music Factory site will be able to accommodate at least 3 million more square feet of office space, potentially catering to another corporate headquarters.[charlotteobserver.com]
Charlotte’s Community Investment Plan (CIP), is a long-range investment program to help address the needs of the community. Approximately $816.4 million in proposed community improvements will be planned, designed and implemented, focusing on efforts relating to housing diversity/neighborhood improvements, increased connectivity/infrastructure improvements, economic development/job creation and growth.[charmeck.org]
The Fire Department Headquarters, a 36,000 SF facility, opened in April 2015. The site formerly housed a Sealtest office and an ice cream factory. The department, in coordination with the City of Charlotte, wanted the building to match the character and style of the surrounding area to keep in line with the North Graham Street and Statesville Avenue corridor revitalization project. The Fire Department Headquarters is located at 500 Dalton Avenue.[charlotteobserver.com]
NorthEnd’s infrastructure improvements involve both streetscape and stream restoration projects. The proposed green infrastructure overlay system will tie the community together, supporting a well-connected, walkable street network, linking to the city’s greenway system, and providing quality open space opportunities. This green infrastructure network can help support economic growth and stability by providing accessible and efficient connections between residences, schools, parks, public transportation, offices and retail destinations. Investment opportunities have catalyzed improvements to Statesville Avenue and Tryon Street, as well as to the Irwin Creek stream restoration project.
Additionally, the Cross Charlotte Trail, a 26-mile trail and greenway facility, is planned to meander from the City of Pineville, through Center City and NorthEnd, connect to UNC Charlotte’s campus and terminate at the Cabarrus County line. NorthEnd is staged for a plethora of opportunities to become a vibrant, engaging, economic node on both the LYNX Blue Line and the Cross Charlotte Trail.
NorthEnd is positioned to be the significant catalyst for change to connect the North Uptown Area and NoDa, providing a strong interconnection of streets, transit and greenways with complementary housing, office and retail offerings. With these many facets forming and influencing one another, NorthEnd is set to thrive and grow, living up to its vision of an innovative, creative, dynamic, vibrant city within the city of Charlotte, North Carolina.