Statesville, NC

Downtown Statesville Streetscape Improvements

Respecting History, but Not Imitating It

status

Completed 2012

client

City of Statesville

expertise

Public Realm + Open Space

services

Landscape Architecture, Civil Engineering, Urban Design, Land Planning

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Optimizing a Dated Downtown

More than a simple refresh, improving pedestrian and vehicular mobility transformed Downtown Statesville’s urban experience while staying true to its authentic history.

Sprucing up quiet downtowns to give a semblance of old times is an increasingly common phenomenon, but the City of Statesville was interested in more than a quick facelift. Statesville’s downtown core already had healthy, robust bones to work with, which allowed more time and energy to spend upgrading outdated utility infrastructures and overhauling the streetscape. LandDesign provided urban design, landscape architecture, civil engineering, and land planning services to bring this ambitious project to fruition. Downtown Statesville more than doubled its sidewalk widths in some places, curated a unique material palette with various applications, and created a series of outdoor rooms with landscaping elements that promoted an engaging urban experience. Thinking of the sidewalks as linear parks, the extra space allowed room for mature trees, planting areas, outdoor dining, and spillover retail opportunities.

Our Vision

One Foot in the Past, One Foot in the Future

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LandDesign wanted to create an immersive pedestrian experience while paying homage to the local history. That kind of design walks a fine line between lapsing into historical reproductions and whitewashing the local identity, neither of which is desirable. LandDesign avoided either of these tropes by adopting an authentic local material palette, integrating pedestrian and vehicular mobility to economically recharge downtown businesses and retail, and inviting people to slow down and linger to enjoy their immediate surroundings.

The Challenge

Managing Stakeholder Concerns Regarding Construction Impacts

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The foremost problem the team faced was pushback from skeptical stakeholders concerned with how construction would impact their businesses–if people couldn’t park in front of their stores, how would their businesses manage? LandDesign helped educate the stakeholders and put their concerns to rest with help from Statesville?s city council, but still faced unique stipulations to work around such as prohibiting the closure of any businesses due to construction, limiting the hours during which construction could occur, and even halting construction from the week before Thanksgiving until the end of the year to allow for an unimpeded holiday shopping season.

 

Another significant logistical problem that had to be figured out was how to drain water way from the building faces and towards the street. After widening the sidewalks to 20 feet, water had a much greater distance to travel, but the traditional slope typically used was untenable. As a result, more complex drainage calculations had to be made to accommodate functionality while retaining a comfortable walking experience.

Our Approach

Handle With Care: Enhancing Without Compromising History

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Physical

Narrow the existing street to open more passive and active pedestrian space.

Functional

Use the infrastructure overhaul to bury utilities and maintain the historic main street charm.

Social

Provide safer, more accessible ways to enjoy the downtown as a holistic experience rather than a one-stop destination.

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Physical

Narrow the existing street to open more passive and active pedestrian space.

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Functional

Use the infrastructure overhaul to bury utilities and maintain the historic main street charm.

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Social

Provide safer, more accessible ways to enjoy the downtown as a holistic experience rather than a one-stop destination.

Leaning Into History Through Materials and Planting

Referencing Statesville’s agricultural history, precast concrete panel motifs of different herbs reflect this part of its past, as does a planting selection that includes a variety of herbs such as rosemary, lavender, and oregano. LandDesign also curated a material palette reflective of the local setting, using precast concrete, brick, and stone. Different streets used the same palette, but in different patterns to achieve a range of different designs.

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