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

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NC Landscape Architect Publishes First Book January 4, 2011

Following is our first press release on the publication of The Bridge Builders…

January 3, 2011 (ATLANTIC BEACH, NC) – From growing up on North Carolina’s Outer Banks during the Great Depression and World War II, to watching as his immigrant father designed and built the first “Lost Colony” amphitheater, to a series of adventures that began when he won the coveted Prix de Rome in 1951, landscape architect Richard C. “Dick” Bell explores his evolution as a designer in his first book, The Bridge Builders.


Dick Bell is the Southern landscape architect who created such seminal landmarks as the North Carolina State University “Brickyard,” the City of Raleigh’s beloved Pullen Park, and the Meredith College Amphitheater in Raleigh, among 2000 other projects he has completed in his long career – projects that left a profound imprint on his profession and his state. Through The Bridge Builders, he explores the people, places, and educational experiences that made him the man and the designer he came to be.


Published by Vantage Press, The Bridge Builders begins with his paternal grandparents’ immigration from England to Canada in the early years of the 20th century, before his father hastened their relocation to North Carolina. As a young boy in the sea and sand of Manteo, NC, and as a son and grandson of avid gardeners, Bell developed an intense love of nature and conservation that would define his illustrious career. As the youngest recipient of the Prix de Rome, his travel abroad would forever influence how he designed outdoor spaces for human enjoyment.


The book concludes just as Bell is starting what would become one of his master works and a living laboratory for landscape architecture, the former Water Garden in Raleigh – the “Taliesin” of North Carolina.


Midwest Book Review says: “The Bridge Builders is a memoir from Richard Bell as he reflects on being an American who came to love art and architecture in Europe and did well in helping establish important work that earned him a place as town hero in Raleigh. The Bridge Builders is intriguing and thoughtful for those looking for a read that bridges art and architecture.”


The book includes a collection of photos from Bell’s life along with original sketches and watercolors he made during his years at the American Academy in Rome.
Bell is planning to publish another book or white paper in the future that will include case studies of his major projects.


To learn more about The Bridge Builders, visit


The order a copy of the book from Vantage Press ($16.95), call by phone 24-hours a day: 877-736-5403, option 5; or fax an order to 212-736-2273.




The Game’s Afoot! July 23, 2009

As I was growing up in Manteo and Elizabeth City, North Carolina, during the Great Depression of the ‘30s, I fell I love with the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. I loved to lose myself in their world as they white-washed fences, ran errands for their parents, slipped away to raft and fish the Mississippi River,

My buddy Billy Hackett (left) and me at play on Roanoke Island.

My buddy Billy Hackett (left) and me at play on Roanoke Island.

studied the currents and dangers of the shoals, and came to know intimately the land forms they traversed. Every day was a learning experience for them. But despite the fun and adventures they had, the ultimate goal was survival.

Actually, life outside of that fascinating literary world was much the same for me at the time. Survival was the ultimate goal – with a little fun and adventure mixed in to keep it interesting! But every single day my parents had to struggle to provide the basic necessities of food, shelter and clothing for our little family. Those things most of us take for granted today were hard-won goals back then.

Mom and Dad in Manteo

Mom and Dad in Manteo

In his own right, my father was a pioneer. A self-taught man, he designed and built the first replica of Fort Raleigh in Manteo and, soon thereafter, “The Lost Colony” amphitheater. (Many other outdoor drama amphitheaters would follow.) A British immigrant, he first had to learn the nature of the new place he called home and how he could care for it and manipulate it to make a life for himself and his family. Meanwhile, my mother was blazing her own trail as she raised her children and created the first plant nursery on Roanoke Island. Creativity and determination propelled my parents as the dreamed, scheme and struggled against difficult circumstances and odds.