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Pack Square Park, Asheville, N.C.

By LaQuatra Bonci Associates, Asheville, N.C. and Pittsburgh

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The pergola behind the Lunsford Stage at the edge of the Roger McGuire Green in Pack Square Park, Asheville, N.C. has flush-with-grade LED uplights (Hess). The pedestrian pole lighting (Holophane) here is via metal halide lamps with teardrop luminaries. Metal halides are high-intensity discharge lamps, more compact than fluorescent or incandescent lamps and a powerful, efficient light source.
Photo: J. Nelson

The Pack Square Conservancy commissioned a team of design professionals to revitalize historic Pack Square and return it to the vibrant pedestrian-friendly gathering space it once was, as well as provide new park space in the central core of downtown.

The towering granite obelisk (A) honoring Zebulon Baird Vance, governor of North Carolina during the Civil War, and the "raindrop" fountain (B) are the prominent features of Pack Square (left).The square includes I. M. Pei's concrete and glass office block design (1978-1980). The square is named for George Willis Pack (1831-1906), the man who donated the land for the square and specified it be a public park in perpetuity. Reuter Terrace (C) has a new fountain, a linear cascade in the middle of the park. The water flows and drops several levels before being recirculated at the lower pool. The Terrace provides handicap access between Roger McGuire Green and Pack Square. There's also plenty of seating here. Roger McGuire Green (D) offers a large lawn in its central and northern portions. The family gathering spot is Splasheville, a large interactive splashpad fountain in front of the stage. Creating a park in Asheville's central square really dates back more than 100 years, but the current Pack Square Park project began in 1999, with a grand opening on May 28, 2010.
Rendering: LaQuatra Bonci Associates

The final plan involved three park components: the restoration of historic Pack Square, the creation of a great lawn and green as an anchor, and the development of a central Visitors' Plaza. To achieve this, removal and reconfiguration of the fragmented landscape of streets and parking lots was required, which allowed for the historic street grid to be reestablished. The result was the creation of a new park that spans three city blocks and totals 6.5 acres. Of importance was the idea to incorporate sound park-planning principles, including those of Frederick Law Olmsted. These include the idea that a park should be democratic. It should be for everyone. It should be diverse. It should have wide-open fields and intimate, small spaces. It should be sunlit and shaded. It should have a certain quality of design, a quality that engenders pride. It should connect man with nature and nature with man.

Fiber optics illuminate the custom stainless steel hand railing (Advanced Iron Works) and are embedded in the amphitheater hardscape. The handrail is illuminated ("Lightrail" by Cole Lighting).
Photo: LaQuatra Bonci Associates

Program Design Intention
The program had two primary goals: to attract the everyday user and local residents to a comfortable setting, while also fulfilling the city's heritage as a festival city with various performance venues to celebrate the city's many public gatherings. In addition, the square creates a unique address for infill of new residential and commercial development uses.

From underneath the pergola we see the entire park expanse, whose west end is marked by the granite obelisk.
Photo: J. Nelson

Principal Features of the Park
The flexible town green offers a range of spaces for multiple events and leisure use. It incorporates such amenities as cafes, restrooms and visitor information. Local artwork is integrated into the landscape. Water features attract attention at multiple locations. There are also formal and informal stages to help grow Asheville's performing arts heritage and festivals.

The walkway winds its way toward the mid-block (Reuter Terrace) and is illuminated by 10-ft. pedestrian sidewalk light poles (BEGA) with indirect metal halide luminaries.
Photo: LaQuatra Bonci Associates

Public Planning
The redesign of this central public space attracted the attention of thousands of citizens during the course of design and construction. From the beginning, the consultants and clients encouraged broad participation in the conception of the space and the choices that were required to arrive at the final design. Clear design principles evolved in public discussions that guided the creation of new design frameworks for streets, public spaces and activity areas.

The decorative poles (Spring City Electrical Manufacturing) at the Terrace Overlook have cast iron bases and quad-head metal halide luminaries.
Photo: LaQuatra Bonci Associates

Community consensus enabled the client to obtain major commitments from local, state and national government, stakeholders and major donors. This public input continued through implementation of the project.

Across from the North Carolina Veterans Memorial is a stage area (right) illuminated with metal halide stage luminaries (WE-EF), "wash out" lights and a stage spotlight.

A Setting for New Development
This major investment in civic space and infrastructure encouraged developers and property owners to consider redevelopment around the square. The team prepared design guidelines for redevelopment parcels that govern the placement of future buildings, form and massing, facade compositions, material palettes and other features necessary for a successful integration of new buildings around the square.

Looking west at Mid-Block we get a good view of the site's lighted bollards (WE-EF). The Blue Ridge Savings Bank building looms over downtown Asheville.


Project Team

Pack Square Conservancy, Asheville, N.C.

Key Designers, Consultants
Lead Park Designers, Project Administration
LaQuatra Bonci Associates, Asheville, N.C. and Pittsburgh

Landscape Architects & Civil Engineers (local)
Cole Jenest & Stone, PA, Charlotte

Lighting Design
Hilbish McGee Lighting Design, Sewickley, Pa.

Electrical Engineers
SUD Associates, PA, Asheville

Structural Engineer
Kloesel Engineering, PA, Asheville

Fountain Designer
Independent Fountain Consultants, Snellville, Ga.

Stage Designer
Kyle Smith & Associates, Asheville

ValleyCrest Landscape Development, Calabasas, Calif.

The mid-block section of the park, Reuter Terrace, has a cascading water fountain with flush-with-grade underwater LED uplights. The bronze benches and signs are from Wiemann Iron Works. The youthful trees are 'Autumn Brilliance' serviceberries.

Photos: Jeff Miller, Mountain Lens


Benches & Signs, Bronze:
Wiemann Iron Works, Tulsa

Fountain Equipment:
Georgia Fountain, Snellville

Brick: PineHall Brick, Charlotte
Concrete, Precast: Baxter Precast, Fairfield, Ohio
Flagstone: Charles Luck Stone Center, Pineville, N.C.
Granite: North Carolina Granite, Mount Airy, N.C.

Railings:, stainless steel:
Advanced Iron Works, Redmond, Wash.

BEGA, U.S., Carpinteria, Calif.
C W Cole & Co., South El Monte, Calif., Inc.
Designplan Lighting, Inc., Frenchtown, N.J.
Georgia Fountain Co., Tucker, Ga.
Hess America, Gaffney, S.C.
Holophane North America, Conyers, Ga.
Illumivision, Inc., Edmonton, Alberta
IO Lighting, Buffalo Grove, Ill.
Nexxus Lighting, Charlotte
Spring City Electrical Manufacturing, Spring City, Pa.
WE-EF Lighting USA, Sewickley, Pa.

A large reflecting pool used to be next to the Vance Monument on Pack Square. Now in its place is a 22-ft. bronze-ring fountain with locally quarried stone crafted by local sculptor Hoss Haley. At night the park's ambient pedestrian pole lighting provides enough light to turn the fountain into a reflecting pool. The Buncombe County Courthouse is quite clearly reflected. There are recessed fountain uplights around the structure's base.

The Splashville on the Roger McGuire Green has 21 computer-controlled spouts embedded in its paved surface. The interactive fountain is illuminated by recessed fountain uplights (Georgia Fountain, Inc.).
Photos: J. Nelson


Around Pack Square

The western terminus of Pack Square is the Zebulon Baird Vance obelisk.

Thomas Wolfe Memorial: "Whereon the pillars of this earth are founded. Toward which the conscience of the world is tending--A wind is rising. And the rivers flow."

The sculptural railing on the observation point in Reuter Terrace was designed and built by Black Mountain artist Julia Burr.

Statuary includes a girl getting a refreshing drink of water.

The "Urban Trails" tells the city's history in artworks.

The Veterans' Monument depicts not just those who served and died, but those who waited homeside.

The stage in action.

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November 18, 2019, 10:31 am PDT

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