Hickory, NC

Union Square Renovation + Streetscape Enhancements

Crafting a New Vision for Downtown Hickory

status

Completed 2020

client

City of Hickory

expertise

Public Realm + Open Space

services

Landscape Architecture

Homepage Header
Homepage Header

A New Chapter for Union Square Begins

The revitalization of Union Square anchors this space as the heart of downtown Hickory and sets the stage for future improvements into the public realm.

The City of Hickory is making significant investments into its public realm. After their once-thriving textile industry moved overseas, the city faced a detrimental loss of 45,000 jobs, resulting in rapid population decline. In 2012, the city recognized that a plan was needed to inform city-wide improvements that would catalyze economic development and position Hickory as a community-of-choice in the region. They turned to LandDesign to envision a framework to align short- and long-term improvements with their brand of a ‘Life Well Crafted.’ After months of planning and community engagement, the Inspiring Spaces Plan was conceived and adopted by the city.

The Inspiring Spaces Plan identifies key public infrastructure and open space improvements, one of which was renovating the heart of their downtown–historic Union Square. Once again, the city entrusted LandDesign with transforming Union Square into a must-visit destination that reflects the authentic character and charm of Hickory, supports local businesses, and catalyzes economic growth. Completed in 2020, Union Square has become a beloved community asset, with residents, visitors, and businesses returning to Hickory.

Our Vision

Envisioning an Evergreen Destination

Homepage Header

Building on Hickory’s brand of a ‘Life Well Crafted’ and ambitious goals for economic development, LandDesign wanted the enhancements to Union Square to be authentic to the unique community character, while incorporating new, relevant uses that position the downtown for long-term success. The first step to maintaining the site’s integrity was to preserve the iconic ‘sails,’ which are a beloved part of the square’s identity, and establish a new front door to the heart of downtown. We envisioned an activated, 18-hour destination that considers the needs of both residents and businesses. Every space within the square is flexible to accommodate the present moment, whether that be outdoor dining, pop-up retail, or a live performance.

Thoughtful and Flexible Programming

A series of vegetated rooms, central lawn, and performance stage provide flexible spaces to gather, socialize, and celebrate.

Homepage Header

The Challenge

Respecting the City’s Rich History

Homepage Header

Union Square is home to several historical features of great meaning to the Hickory community. Our team sought a way to weave the existing structures into the new design, which was challenging in consideration of the current political conversation surrounding historic monumentation in the public realm. To infuse the site with history without replicating it, we chose to preserve a World War I cannon that commemorates members of the community who served during the war. The cannon sits atop an elevated, multi-tiered structure, now known as ‘Cannon Hill,’ that is a signature feature of Union Square, creating opportunities for visitors to engage with a piece of Hickory’s history.

A Catalyst for Economic Development

As a result of the revitalization of Union Square, the city anticipates an immediate response with an estimated $500 million in private investment, 898 new jobs, and nearly 400 new residential units.

Our Approach

Position Union Square as the Heart of Downtown Hickory

Homepage Header Homepage Header Homepage Header

Physical

Restoring this valuable amenity space and surrounding streetscape to create a new community asset that attracts visitors, patrons, and passersby

Functional

Streetscape enhancements, including significant curb extension, improve the pedestrian experience, creating flexible spaces to socialize and gather at Union Square

Social

Preserving moments that matter to Hickory’s identity, including the WWI cannon and iconic sails

Homepage Header

Physical

Restoring this valuable amenity space and surrounding streetscape to create a new community asset that attracts visitors, patrons, and passersby

Homepage Header

Functional

Streetscape enhancements, including significant curb extension, improve the pedestrian experience, creating flexible spaces to socialize and gather at Union Square

Homepage Header

Social

Preserving moments that matter to Hickory’s identity, including the WWI cannon and iconic sails