Wake Forest Renaissance Plan - September 2017


2017 R ena i s s anc e P l an U pdat e | T own of W ak e F or e s t



Twelve Raleigh Architects Rethink a Community’s Downtown

by j . michael welton O n a cool, rainy Saturday afternoon in early October, three intrepid women — two architects and a landscape architect — ventured out, on foot, from Town Hall in Wake Forest. They were determined to locate a holy grail in the surrounding landscape — a natural water feature to enhance a new urban plan for the nearly 200-year-old town. The three were part of a team of 12 Raleigh architects who’d been invited by Wake Forest Downtown, a nonprofit charged with fostering the health and vitality of downtown, to re-imagine it. The architects were working en charrette — a 19th-century French term from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. It’s shorthand for an intense, day-long design workshop. Erin Sterling Lewis, Tina Govan, and Julieta Sherk had already taken one walking tour that morning, during which Lewis had heard about foot paths along a natural stream partially covered by concrete and asphalt. Uncovering it might be an interesting idea, the three designers reasoned. Now, umbrellas in hand, the group slipped down to Miller

Park, ran across Roosevelt Street, trudged up a residential footpath on the eastern fringe, then rambled down to the town cemetery. Along the way, they monitored their stream as it surfaced at grade level, disappeared underground, then popped back up again. Returning to Town Hall, they huddled with three other architects earnestly engaged in sketching out their own design strategies. Michael Stevenson was hatching a plan for two urban “bookends” — a transportation hub at the town’s south end and a cultural hub at its north, with 1,600 linear feet of shops, homes, and offices on South White Street in between. Louis Cherry was drawing up a culinary incubator where multiple chefs could lease kitchen spaces, with a bar dropped strategically into its center. And Frank Harmon quietly sketched out a train station, a bus terminal, and residential units for the transportation hub. Across the room, Matt Hale was working through drawings for a boutique hotel to stand next to a restaurant he’d already designed and built. Anthony Garcia was dreaming up ways to insert a wall of

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