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

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From Architects + Artisans: “A Life In Landscape Architecture” October 26, 2010

October 26, 2010

By Mike Welton & Cheryl Wilder

New Yorkers may claim Frederick Law Olmsted as their own, and Virginians might cling to the gardens that Charles Gillette once molded and shaped, but North Carolinians today can embrace their own living icon of the landscape architecture profession.

When Manteo native Richard “Dick” Bell launched his practice in 1955, he was just a few years out of N.C. State’s School of Design.  A leader, an educator and a winner of the Rome Prize, he’d spent time in South Florida, working with Morris Lapidus on the landscape for Miami’s Fountainbleu Hotel.  Back in Raleigh though, he was determined to promote landscape architecture as a reputable profession for North Carolina.




In Loving Memory of Dennis Glazener, ASLA September 29, 2010

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We have lost a wonderful man and son-in-law. Dennis and Sharon and I also worked together for 25 years. He will be missed more than I can express…

Dennis M. Glazener, 1955-2010

Dennis Michael Glazener, 55, passed away unexpectedly in Rex Hospital early Sunday morning, September 26.

Dennis was born in Hendersonville, NC, on February 6, 1955, the only child of the late Katherine “Kittie” and Walter Warren “Doc” Glazener (a local veterinarian). He graduated with honors from Hendersonville High School in 1973 then attended the NC State University School of Design in Raleigh, where he graduated at the top of his class in product design in 1979. During his time at the School of Design, he won the Industrial Design Society of America’s Student Award and the Product Design Book Award presented by Professor Vincent Foote. Yet Dennis always wanted to practice landscape architecture. That time was coming.

Dennis met Sharon Bell, the daughter of master landscape architect Richard C. “Dick” Bell, while at NC State. Sharon was studying landscape architecture. In the summer of 1978, between his junior and senior year, Dennis worked as an apprentice for Sharon’s father in the Water Garden office complex on Glenwood Avenue/Highway 70 West, Raleigh. After Dennis and Sharon graduated, Bell invited both of them to come to work with him full-time at Bell Design Group, and Dennis began to fulfill his desire to practice landscape architecture. Dennis and Sharon were married in Raleigh in January of 1981.

In 1979 and 1980, Dennis worked with Bell on the Southern Living Home Show in Charlotte and on the documentation for the Falls Lake master plan to prove that there was recreational value on the lands associated with the lake. In 1981 and 1982, he helped the Raleigh Home Builders Association produce their Home and Garden shows in the Raleigh Convention Center. From 1982 to 1986, he worked with Bell on the master plan, site development, and landscaping of Bermuda Village and Country Club in Winston-Salem. As a team, they also designed the Raychem Corporation master plan and landscaping from 1981-83, then again on phase two in 1990. That project received a national award from the American Association of Nurserymen. In 1986, he worked with Bell on the Moore Square Transit Block in downtown Raleigh, transforming what could have been just a bus stop into a welcoming public space with benches and fountains. The project received a design award from the NC Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects. In 1987 Dennis and Bell began work on the Gilford College Master Plan, which would lead to the design of a 22-mile freeway around Greensboro known as Painter Boulevard.

In 1990, Dennis became a full partner with Bell and the name of the firm was changed to Bell/Glazener Design Group. Soon afterwards, Dennis designed the Cabarrus Memorial Hospital complex in Concord, NC, his first large solo project. He worked with Bell on the Peace College master plan in Raleigh from 1990-95 and on the St. Mary’s College master plan, including soccer field, from 1989-1999.

Dennis was instrumental in the design of many of the firm’s major landscape architecture projects including Bicentennial Plaza (with the NC Museum of Natural Sciences) and the Wilmington-Blount parking deck in Raleigh; East Carolina University’s Clark-LeClair baseball stadium, the School of Nursing, Joyner Library, the main dormitory areas and campus street design; and UNC-Greensboro’s central plaza area.

Dennis was a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects, but he was never interested in winning awards, so he rarely entered his own projects in awards programs. A perfectionist, he never felt his projects were completely finished since landscape architecture depends largely on how well planting materials mature and thrive over many years.

Dennis was very interested in the arts and was an artist himself, completing numerous paintings of his own. With his wife, he amassed an impressive art collection. He also loved to visit Key West, and he and Sharon spent many weeks there.

Dennis was also an environmentalist. Among other conservation projects, he worked with Sharon and Dick Bell on the use of solar energy and green house design for the NC community college system.

He also spent a great deal of time and energy on the mid-century modernist house he and Sharon shared in Country Club Hills in Raleigh.

Dennis loved to go backpacking and trout fishing. And throughout his life, he loved animals, especially the many cats he and Sharon have taken in and loved for many years. He was also a salt-water aquarium enthusiast and always maintained one of his own.

Dennis is survived by his wife, Sharon, his mother-in-law and father-in-law Mary Jo and Dick Bell, his brother-in-laws Richard C. Bell Jr. and Ed Stewart, his sister-in-law Cassandra Bell Steward, and his nieces and nephews Raney, Chloe, Duncan, and Max, as well as a great-niece Evelyn. Besides his family, his closest friends were John Cantrell of Kingsport, TN, Francesco Ianneti of Raleigh, Robert Motley of Knightdale, and Algean Garner of Chicago, IL.

Dennis will be cremated and a private memorial will be held in for him in the near future. In lieu of flowers, the family would prefer that donations be made in his honor to the SPCA of Wake County.


N&O: Delapidated Gem Will Yield To Housing August 30, 2010

Filed under: Media coverage — Blueplate PR @ 6:35 pm

Monday, August 30, 2010


This N&O photo was taken inside (looking out) of what used to be my office...

RALEIGH — In its time, the Water Garden stood as a shrine to modern design: a complex of low-slung, hill-hugging offices surrounded by tall, ivy-covered pine trees and ponds topped with lily pads.

You’d never guess from the car dealerships and furniture warehouses that such a gem stood hidden off Glenwood Avenue. And for the last three years, the complex has slowly rotted and gathered squatters’ trash.

But now the site of the 11-acre Water Garden campus, home and life’s work of master landscape architect Dick Bell, is being put to use. Starting next spring, its lush and rolling hills will be converted to low-income housing in a northwest Raleigh neighborhood where it is sorely needed.


From Triangle Modernist… July 15, 2010

Filed under: Media coverage — Blueplate PR @ 9:10 pm
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Many thanks to George Smart, founder and director of Triangle Modernist Houses, for this tribute:

A few projects featured…

Meredith Amphitheatre and grounds

Pullen Park

"The Brickyard," NCSU

Water Garden


Goodnight, Raleigh: “A Forgotten Treasure – The Raleigh Water Garden” July 7, 2010

Filed under: Media coverage — Blueplate PR @ 9:26 pm
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By Danielle Carr, July 6, 2010

I started out with only a Facebook status update and the vague directions “across from the Carmax on Glenwood” to go on. An hour and a half later, I found the Water Garden.


(Many thanks to all who posted comments on Goodnight, Raleigh —  including the current owner whose intentions for the future of Water Garden are well-meaning indeed.)


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.