Charlotte, North Carolina
Completion Date: October 2009
Afro-American Cultural Center
Wachovia Corporation Corporate Real Estate
City of Charlotte
Program: A four-level, 46,500-square-foot cultural center in downtown Charlotte. Situated on a narrow 50-by-400-foot tract, the project includes galleries, classrooms, offices, and event space.
Design Concept and Solution: Freelon took inspiration from the former Myers School, a touchstone of Charlotte's African-American community in the mid-20th century; its prominent fire escape (and provisional balcony overlooking the city) once symbolized community pride and lifted spirits. Working around an underground parking entrance at street level, the architects put the lobby atrium on the second floor and enclosed it in glass to give visitors that same sense of being lifted above the fray. They used a structural steel frame and clad the front of the building with a perforated metal rain screen backed by galvanized steel sheeting. (The rear facade, which faces a plot slated for development, is stucco accented with strip lighting.) Inspired by the pattern of a quilt, the metal panels of the main facade are stitched together with diagonal aluminum extrusions. In the lobby the architects translated the quilt motif into a sculptural drywall ceiling made from a series of angled planes. The galleries themselves are more subdued, with dark carpets and ceilings to keep the spotlight on the art.
Total construction cost: $16 million
The Freelon Group Architects
5310 South Alston Ave.
Durham, Nc 27713
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Associate architect(s): Neighboring Concepts
Interior designer: The Freelon Group Architects
Structural Engineer: Trc International, Ltd
Civil Engineer: Geoscience Group, Inc.
Lighting: Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design, Inc
Audio/Visual: The Sextant Group
Signage and Wayfinding: Brinkley Design
Waterproofing Consultant: Williamson And Associates
Programming Consultant: Kimberly Camp
Elevator Consultant: Elevator Advisors, Inc.
Security Consultant: James J. Davis & Associates, Inc.
Specifications Consultant: Hall Building Information Group
CAD system, project management, or other software used: