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

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DESIGNLIFE: What’s happening at the College of Design September 14, 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Department of Landscape Architecture at the North Carolina State University College of Design has announced the First Annual Richard C. Bell Lecture Series.

“The Department of Landscape Architecture wishes to honor Dick Bell for his professional achievements, leadership, and many landscape legacies through this annual lecture in his name,” said Gene Bressler, FASLA, NCNLA, head of the department and Professor of Landscape Architecture, who refers to Bell as a “North Carolina landscape architecture icon.”

Dick Bell, FASLA, will kick off the new series himself on September 19 at 6 p.m. in the College of Design’s Burns Auditorium located in Kamphhoefner Hall with a lecture entitled “Bridge Building.”

“The essence of my practice has been making friends and building relationships with colleagues in order to get landscape architecture projects done,” said Bell, who has completed over 2000 projects throughout his long career.  READ MORE…


As Seen on Triangle Modernist July 2, 2010

Have you heard of Triangle Modernist Houses? If not, you need to. Founded and directed by George Smart Jr. (the son of the late architect George Smart Sr.), this invaluable archive and website is dedicated to honoring, archiving, preserving and promoting modernist residential design from the early ’50s through today. I was delighted to see that several of my residential projects are archived on — projects that integrated modernist architecture and modernist landscape architecture to create a total design worthy of being archived (if I say so myself!). Below are a few. Many thanks to George for posting these images on the TMH website. Text by George Smart.

Designed by Dan MacMillan, 1958 - The Charles E. Kistler-Dell Hollstein House, 323 Birnam Drive, Fayetteville NC. The Kistler-Hollstein house was considered one of the best examples of modern architecture in Fayetteville. Landscape design by Dick Bell. Dell Hollstein lived on the 2.1 acre property for more than 50 years. She had it on the market for a number of years and lowered the price several times. There were calls to move it but that was impossible because of the concrete slab. Preservation North Carolina officials visited the site but interest came too late. Developer Buzz Loyd became interested in the land only after Hollstein removed the condition that the house remain. It was destroyed in 2005. The five new houses sold in the mid to upper six figures.

Designed by Milton Small, 1962: The Frank and Jean Anderson Jr. House, 2505 York Road, Raleigh. Anderson owned Sir Walter Chevrolet. Bought in 2002 by current owners William (Harry) and Marsha Whyte. 3600 square feet. .85 acres. Landscape design by Dick Bell.

Designed by Mason Hicks, 1964: The Joan and Richard Robert (Bob) Allen House, 1414 Pine Valley Loop, Fayetteville. Landscape design by Dick Bell. Built by Richard Allen. Still owned by the Allens.

Designed by John Oxenfeld and Haywood Newkirk, ca. 1970: The Doug Fleet House, next door to the Dan Cameron House, Figure Eight Island, Wilmington NC. Won a 1971 AIANC Merit Award. At the time, this and the Cameron house above were the only adjacent AIANC award winners in North Carolina. Since then, a building has gone up between them. Photo by Gordon Schenck. Built by Fred Murray. Landscaping by Dick Bell. Appeared in the News and Observer.


A Well Managed Piece of Land June 10, 2010

From the blog ARCHITECTS + ARTISANS  June 4, 2010…

A Well-Managed Piece of Land
By Mike Welton

In the late 1880s, as George Vanderbilt was amassing nearly 228 square miles of land in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, he turned to Frederick Law Olmsted for counsel on what should be done with it. 

It was not in the best condition. He’d purchased about six hundred lots that varied in size from a half-acre to hundreds more. For at least a century, Scotch/Irish immigrants had felled the best trees for meager mountainside farms, burned down the forest for pasture, and allowed hogs to root the land up freely.

“When Olmsted had looked at all of that, he built two towers on the house site – one at the level of where the first floor library is now, and one back behind that,” said Bill Alexander, landscape and forest historian at Biltmore Estate. “He wanted to get Vanderbilt and Richard Morris Hunt up in the air so they could see what the views would look like.”

When asked what he wanted to do with the land, Vanderbilt replied that he thought he’d like to make a park of it, in a bucolic, European style.



Lawrence Halprin, FASLA, Dies at 93 October 27, 2009

Filed under: On Landscape Architecture — Blueplate PR @ 11:00 pm

From the ASLA’s “TheDirt” blog: sad news… Lawrence Halprin, FASLA

Lawrence Halprin, FASLA, one of the world’s leading landscape architects, passed away at the age of 93. His six-decade career encompassed such prominent works as the FDR Memorial in Washington, D.C.; Freeway Park in Seattle, Ghirardelli Square, Levi’s Plaza and the United Nation’s Plaza in San Francisco; among many others. In comments to The San Francisco Chronicle, Charles Birmbaum, FASLA, president of the Cultural Landscape Foundation, said: “He was the single most influential landscape architect of the postwar years. He redefined the profession’s role in cities.”


To read the entire tribute, click HERE


Thoughts… September 22, 2009

Filed under: On Landscape Architecture — Blueplate PR @ 4:22 pm

…We must tread lightly upon the land, enhancing its natural characteristics, protecting its natural vegetation, utilizing its existing trees, and treating all areas left over after construction as open space…   WG4

…Wherever possible, natural systems should be utilized as educational devices in which children can play and come to understand that they are as important to human survival as they are to biological diversity and runoff mitigation…

…Understanding nature creates an appreciation of beauty, which in turn creates an appreciation of art. Think of the Holy Trinity not only as God, Son, and Holy Spirit but also as Nature, Beauty, and Art.

(This photo is from my Water Garden development…several years ago.)


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

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 or call 919-787-3515.


Landscape Architects Play Central Role in Green Design August 28, 2009

Filed under: On Landscape Architecture,Sustainable Design — Blueplate PR @ 5:46 pm

The following article, by this title, first appeared in Engineering News-Record but was reprinted in Architectural Record on August. 6, 2009. I share the link here because I feel it’s important…