An oval-shaped great lawn to provide opportunities for people to be around other people, along with a monumental water element and more “pocket” spaces for activities, amenities and gatherings were the major elements of the conceptual design revealed at the final Belk Plaza Forum, April 11.
“We created a palate that would accommodate just about anything. The functional flexibility of space reflects classic design and introduces contemporary expression,” stated Adam Martin, a LandDesign associate and UNC Charlotte alumnus.
Richard Petersheim, also with LandDesign, the Charlotte-based firm that worked with the Belk Plaza Design Committee to develop plans to transform Belk Plaza, added, “The form and function (of the design) is to accommodate multiple uses, but it will be up to the University and students on how to use it.”
A raised-rock fountain, part of the great lawn, is planned for the plaza near the Kennedy Building. According to the designers, this location for the water element is in keeping with the quiet, technological work associated with the nearby buildings.
The great lawn would slope downward from the crest of the fountain toward Rowe Arts Building/Robinson Hall. The slightly tilted lawn plane would provide a space to recline and watch quad activities or amphitheater-type seating for events. As it continues toward Rowe, it would then flatten out to provide a larger, flexible lawn space for un-programmed activities.
Also, the concept recommends constructing a raised terrace off Colvard Building with lighting along the atrium to extend this space for use at night; the wall could serve as a backdrop for artistic purposes. Pockets of space surrounding the plaza could accommodate food/beverage amenities, swings or other seating and temporary shade canopies until bosques or “gallery forests” mature.
LandDesign created its concept based upon feedback obtained through two public forums in February and input from the Belk Plaza Design Committee, appointed by Chancellor Philip L. Dubois. The 14-member committee included representatives from the campus community, alumni and the city.
“We want Belk Plaza to be more inviting to the campus community,” Peter Franz, chair of the Belk Plaza Design Committee, said at the April 11 forum. “All of what you see is the culmination of your input.”
The Belk Plaza concept design plans will be presented to the UNC Charlotte Board of Trustees for approval at its October meetings. If accepted, the University will solicit bids to build the project and develop a timeline for its completion.