Belk Plaza has undergone a reimagining to add a monumental water element and a more expansive lawn, but as officials noted in a ceremony Friday, Nov. 16, to rededicate the space, it remains a central gathering location in the historic core of campus.
“Belk Plaza is a place where traditions can be born, athletics celebrated and graduation photos captured,” said Kevin Bailey, vice chancellor for student affairs. “As a meeting place and rallying point, it will be an important part of the memories students make during their time as 49ers.”
Transforming Belk Plaza resulted from significant input from members of the campus community, in consultation with the Belk family, following the removal of the Belk Tower in December 2015-January 2016. The tower, a generous gift from the Belk family and company, was dedicated in 1970 in honor of William Henry Belk, founder of what has become one of the leading retail enterprises in the Southeastern United States.
Public forums were held in February 2016 to solicit feedback on the future of the plaza. Charlotte-based LandDesign, an urban design and landscape firm, was selected by the Belk Plaza Design Committee appointed by the chancellor, to facilitate the forums. Attendees’ suggestions influenced the conceptual design that changed Belk Plaza from its original quadrangle outline to one dominated by an oval-shaped lawn. A raised-rock fountain, located near the Kennedy Building, provides a quiet water element that respects the technological and academic efforts occurring in nearby buildings.
Additional work will add trees to the plaza and a covered arbor in front of the Kennedy Building. Also, a coffee shop and outdoor seating near the corner of the Colvard Building are slated for the future. A time capsule installed at the plaza’s location will be opened in 2046, UNC Charlotte’s centennial year.
Ultimately, the reimagined Belk Plaza provides the University with a flexible design to accommodate multiple uses for students, faculty, staff and visitors.