In Greensboro, a Park by OJB, Harmon

Little Greensboro, N.C. is about to get a great big park designed by a powerhouse team of architects and landscape architects.

Ground was broken last week on the Carolyn & Maurice LeBauer Park downtown, its landscape designed by the Office of James Burnett (OJB), with pavilions from Frank Harmon Architect PA.

OJB is responsible for the innovative, award-winning, 5.2-acre Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, which spans the Woodall Rodgers Freeway downtown and features a stage and restaurant designed by architect Tom Phifer. Harmon designed the award-winning AIA N.C. Center for Architecture and Design in downtown Raleigh.

The new park in Greensboro will replace Festival Park in the city’s cultural arts district. “The focal point is a 17,000-square-foot event lawn with performance pavilion, and a sculpture by Janet Echelman,” says Nathan Elliott, principal at OJB’s San Diego office. “Another 10,000 square feet of plaza and open space will surround the kinetic, diaphanous sculpture.”

The project also includes the renovation of two streets and a seamless integration of the proposed Steven Tanger Center for Performing Arts. Already near the site are the Greensboro Public Library, designed by architect Richard Upjohn in 1900, the Greensboro Historical Museum, and an existing parking garage.

The new park will also offer an 18,000-square-foot children’s garden, a dog park, and a reading room where for book talks and book clubs. “There are an interactive water plaza, and a market square with food and beverages available, like a ‘Grab-and-Go,’” Elliott says.

Harmon’s Ipe-wood-and-zinc pavilions will defer to the landscape design. “I like to think of them as Fred Astaire, and the design scheme as Ginger Rogers,” Harmon says. “The real star of the show is the landscape.”

It’s a bit of a homecoming for him, since he grew up there and landed his first job in the office of Greensboro mid-century modernist Edward Lowenstein.

“A lot of my history is woven in there, so it’s gratifying,” he says.

The new park is scheduled for completion by May, 2016.

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