Pebbles In The Pond: News & Musings by Landscape Architect Dick Bell

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Bell/Glazener Restores Mid-Century Garden at UNC-G September 14, 2009

I thought I’d share some news just released concerning a project my son-in-law did at UNC-Greensboro…

The garden after restoration...

The garden after restoration...

September 14, 2009 (GREENSBORO, NC) – “Attention to the outside environment makes a vast difference in people’s experience of [a] campus,” notes the Society for College and University Planning in an introduction to a webcast the SCUP presented on the need for pleasant outdoor spaces in university settings.

Four years ago, Bell/Glazener Design Group, a Raleigh, NC-based landscape architecture firm, helped the University of North Carolina at Greensboro improve how students, faculty and visitors experience that historic campus by restoring and expanding a once vibrant, ca. 1952 outdoor gathering space back to its original intent.

Since then, the Taylor Garden has become a favorite outdoor space for individual study, outdoor dining, and informal student meetings. Occasionally, academic classes meet there as well.  Today2sm

Charles Bell, Superintendent of Grounds back when UNC-G was called the Women’s College, designed the original garden and pool next to Elliot University Center. It was named in  honor of the Woman’s College Dean of Students, Katherine Taylor, in 1973. A publication of the time described it as ” a large paved patio planted in flowers and evergreens, with a central fountain.”

According to John Pope, an architect with UNC-G’s Facilities Design and Construction office, the Taylor Garden was once used for student gatherings and afternoon teas. But over the years, the patio area deteriorated. The concrete and slate pavers became cracked and damaged, and the pool so often that the gold fish once living there had to be removed. The planting areas also needed redefinition and updating.

“While the University Grounds Department did the best job they could of maintaining the patio area, the obvious solution was to renovate the garden,” Pope said.

Dennis Glazener, ASLA, principal of Bell/Glazener Design Group, maintained the original character of the garden by restoring yet upgrading the original water element and distinctive patio. To bring the pool up to code without the need for a guardrail (the depths was an issue), he built a new shell inside the exiting structure. A contemporary mechanical and UV filtration system allowed aquatic life to return to the pool. For the Garden’s grass and slate patio grid, he added an efficient drip irrigation system for the fescue grass joints.

Where additional paving was needed, Glazener used scored concrete “to differentiate between old and new,” he noted. “This is something the North Carolina Cultural Resources Department’s division of Archives and History prefers so visitors can see where the original design stops and the additions begin.” He also made a point to reuse and restore as much existing slate as possible.

The plant material present when construction began on the garden was relocated to other areas of the campus. For the “new” Taylor Garden, Glazener specified redbud, magnolia, holly, maple and elm trees, and azalea, hawthorn, osmanthus and holly shrubbery. All plant material was obtained locally.

Glazener’s design includes additional pedestrian lighting and a blue light phone for security purposes. The University selected the patio furnishings.

The Taylor Garden restoration coincided with the renovation and expansion of Elliott University Center.

For more information on the project, visit www.bgjdesign.com.

The Taylor Garden in 1952 -- a favorite gathering place for student and faculty events.

The Taylor Garden in 1952 -- a favorite gathering place for student and faculty events.

About Bell/Glazener Design Group:

For over 50 years, Bell/Glazener Design Group has provided design services to commercial, residential, and institutional clients in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Projects range from residential landscape architecture to extensive regional planning, urban design, campus planning, land use-master planning and sports-recreational planning. For more information visit www.bgjdesign.com or call 919-787-3515.

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