Saturday, October 31, 2009

Tracing the tracks : Opening the gates

Hello everyone,

In the class of Tuesday, October 27 we visited the Galyon Depot. This is the train station of Greensboro and it is a place for bus departure.

The train is very important to the city of Greensboro. Mister Morehead was the one who introduced the train to Greensboro and built a railway station. He wanted to make Greensboro known to people from out of town and he wanted to compete with other cities. Greensboro is a (central) connection point in North Carolina, but also in the whole east coast. Greensboro is called the Gate City. The place where trains stop is the "gate" in the city. The train was most important in the past, because it was actually the only transportation method if you wanted to travel long distances. Cars didn't exist back in those times (around 1900's/1910's). The Depot consists of two parts: an old and a new part. In the older part there are nice, big rooms for passengers and everything looks classic. I heard that there was still segregation in the Depot a couple of decades ago. There were separate waiting rooms for black and white people. The newer part of the Depot, which is linked to the older part, is currently a bus departure station. That is the back entrance. In the future, the train can become very important again, when the gas prices will probably be extremely high. The train will be a lot cheaper then and it is also better for the environment ("greener"), which will be a big issue in the future.

The following link is the website with the flight schedule to Piedmont Triad International Airport:

A lot of immigrants come to North Carolina each year to live and work. The airport and railway stations in Guilford County are important gateways for immigrants. The following websites are places in Greensboro with a non-Western European culture embedded in them.

Greensboro Cultural Center:

UNC Greensboro:

La Hacienda Restaurante Mexicano:

African American Atelier:

P.F Chang's China Bistro:

The Interstate system is also a main gateway to the Triad. If I look at the map of Guilford County, I see three Interstates that come through Guilford County: 85, 40, and 73. It helps Greensboro to become a big city with a lot of businesses. It is easy to travel to Greensboro by car.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Downtown Institutions

Hello everyone,

In the class of Thursday, October 22 we visited downtown Greensboro for the second time, this time to look at downtown institutions. In this post I will discuss five institutions: the Center City Park, the Cultural Center, the Central Library, the Greensboro Historical Museum, and the former public library.

The Center City Park
There used to be buildings at the place where the Center City Park is located now. It is a peaceful place in the center of downtown. It looks like a place to relax, especially for busy business men. The park is two years old now and it is actually privately owned, but it is donated to the city. In my opinion, water is the theme of the park, because there are a lot of fountains. The open space for the park is problably saved to have a green place downtown and to have a quiet space to rest.

The Cultural Center
In the Cultural Center of Greensboro you can enjoy performances and look at the different art styles that are exposed in the several galleries. It seems like a nice place; you can visit it whenever you want.

The Central Library
The Central Library is a new library. The central library used to be the building in which the Elon Law School is located now. I will talk about that later. I think they moved it, because there was a lack of space or they wanted to organize the library differently. I think the dome on the second floor (see picture) is very important for the library. I had the feeling that it represents something, as if learning and being educated leads to a path of light. The circle shape of it reminded me of the Elliot University Center, in which circles also play a significant role. I guess these cricles has something to do with education.

The Greensboro Historical Museum
I heard that the Greensboro Historical Museum used to be a civic auditorium and a library in between. I guess this had been an important place in the center of Greensboro and that they therefore made a museum of it. Also, in my opinion it is important for the people who live in Greensboro to know the history of the city. Then they can determine where to make the necessary changes and they learn what places are or were of great value to the city of Greensboro. The museum is impressive when you are walking inside. It is very quiet and everything looks old. It is nice to see a classroom from a century ago and the old telephone system (see pictures). I really had the feeling: "Is this really what Greensboro looked like before? That is so different." Actually it is hard to imagine.

The former public library

As I mentioned earlier in this post, the Law School of Elon University used to be the public library. This building is located more in the center of downtown Greensboro and it looks like a bank or insurance building (like many other downtown) rather than a library or what it is used for now: an educational institution. I make this statement not only because its external appearance, but also because there are fewer decorations inside than in the current library. Another difference between the former and the current Central Library is the space. The former library looks a lot smaller. Probably that is one of the reasons why it is replaced.

Back to the Center

Hello everyone,

In the class of Tuesday, October 20 we visited downtown Greensboro for the first time; a thing to be excited about! We discussed the values of some buildings, how they contribute to the city and how they can be compared to the UNCG campus. In this post I will discuss three different locations.

First Citizens Bank
If you consider what the most important employers of Greensboro are, you will emphasize that these are the colleges, the denim industry and especially the banking and insurance companies. The First Citizens Bank has a very important function. It is right in the middle of downtown Greensboro (on the corner of Elm Street and Market Street), so I think it is definitely a "beat", also because usually there are a lot of people coming in and out of the building. The design of the building is very prominent; as you can see in the picture the entrance consists of golden doors and two capitals in front of it. That refers to a classical style, that is also used for a couple of buildings on the UNCG campus, such as the Jackson Library and the Brown Building. The First Citizens Bank building is made of brick and glass. There is a lot of glass used. I think it was done this way to make the building light(er) from the inside.

There are a lot of alleys discernable in downtown Greensboro. Most of them are used as drainage-canals. Some of them are very artistic, as you can see in the picture. On this kind of water slide the rain is guided into a box. The box leads to a sewerage system. In my opinion this is a very nice way to create from an ugly view an artistic masterpiece. It really contributes to the external appearance of the downtown of Greensboro. It makes me think about what one can do with buildings or locations in other parts of Greenboro. I consider this change of an alley as an infill and the alley itself as a "sink". This sink is partly covered by an artistic piece.

The KRESS Building
When I saw the KRESS building for the first time, it attracted my attention immediately. It is a beautiful building and I think the owners did a good job in making it look like the way it is. It is a building for food and entertainment and that is also the message the building transfers in its appearance. A lot of people visit this building every day, so in that perspective you can describe it as a "beat", according to Clay's vocabulary. The KRESS building is also (part of a) "strip". This part of downtown (especially Elm Street) is a very developed area and this building is definitely an example of this. By the way, there are more theatres in this area of the city.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Hello everyone,

In the class on Thursday, October 8 we visited Blandwood, an impressive building that originally was a farmhouse. Officially it is located on Washington Street, but it also faces other streets. It is constructed in the 18th century and there are a lot of stories imbedded in this site. What I am going to discuss in this post is the construction of the building and the reasons why the house was renovated twice and was updated several times.

This building has a great value to the city of Greensboro, because it is the oldest italianate structured building in the country (1795). The property consists of 100 acres of land. It was impressive to look around in the buiding and to realize that people lived in here two centuries ago in almost the same setting. The building was once the Keeling Institute. The building looks very nice from inside; it has great decorations. You can divide the building into two different parts: the west parlor and the east parlor. The west parlor is known as the "King" parlor and the east parlor is known as the "Queen" parlor. The difference is that the King parlor is more formal in structure, lay out and furniture, the Queen parlor is less formal in structure, lay out and furniture. The chandeliers are very impressive and unique (see picture) and also the circle patterns around the cord where the chandeliers are hanging on are interesting. In both rooms are doors with mirrors in them. The reasoning in this is that the mirror will reflect sunlight, so that the rooms will be lighter. Obvious was that the ground floor had high ceilings. This is because the heat could rise in warmer periods of the year, so the it would be cool where the family actually lived.

There are a few explanations why the family would update or renovate the original house. It is possible that they wanted to keep up with the dominant style of houses during different times. More likely is that they wanted to expand the building to show their wealth and reputation in the city and further away. Probably the family knew that their building was some kind of a role model for the area, so I think they also wanted to use their power and reputation to set a standard.

There were 4 bedrooms in the building, one downstairs and three upstairs. Most bedrooms are very simple in design, there is a lack of decoration in them. The beds were traditional sleigh beds. The ceilings were low compared to the ceilings on the ground floor, that is the reason why these bedrooms look so small. Especially the front rooms and the east and west parlors show the wealth of the Morehead family. In the front rooms the primary color of paint is green, because it doens't fade that fast. It was a great experience to see the Blandwood building from the inside. It is definitely a very important building for the area. I think that, when Blandwood took its final form, people were curious about this building and maybe they were a little jealous on the family's wealth too. They must have admired it, and as I said before, this site must have been a role model for the rest of the town.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Re-purpose : Re-use

Hello everyone,

In the class on Tuesday, September 29 we looked around near the border of College Hill neighborhood. There is a lot of industrial activity in this area. The Wafco Mill company is located here and some older industrial buildings too. Also apartment buildings and a part of Greensboro College are located here.

The Wafco Mill complex used to be a factory building. You can notice this by looking at the description on the building, but also by looking at the material the building is made of (brick) and the multiple, large windows. In this way the company could reduce the costs of electricity. Since College Hill is so close to the the campus of both UNC Greensboro and Greensboro College, it is the perfect type of building to turn into an apartment complex for students of one or both colleges.
There is a railroad track next to the building. It is not in use anymore. I think its purpose was to deliver corn and grain to the factory. That must have been an easy way of transportation. Why is not possible to re-use this railroad track and make it a transportation opportunity for students and residents with several stops on the way.
There is also an old big brick building that used to work as a factory of a certain company. In my opinion the building is too old to re-use it, but the property is suitable for a parking lot. I think there are not enough parking lots in College Hill and this property is located very close to the apartment complex Fulton Place. I heard that there are is not enough parking space on and around Fulton Place, so in my opinion this is the opportunity to create a new parking lot.

There are already a few apartment buildings built on the sides of the big streets in College Hill (for example Mendenhall Street).

Another thing that attracted my attention but has not much to do with this assignment, is that sometimes houses in the same row all have very different colors. It looks very nice. It seems like the houses incorporate different pieces of the neighborhood.