In the business-oriented district of Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina, LandDesign landscape architects and Seattle-based artist, Norie Sato, have collaborated on the design of a new 5.4-acre park inspired by the life and work of native artist, Romare Bearden. The Charlotte Observer reported that the public space located in Third Ward will serve as a venue for concerts and cultural events in effort to revitalize the area’s currently dull after-work scene. Scheduled for a grand three-day opening this upcoming Labor Day weekend, Romare Bearden Park includes open greens, gardens, courtyards, a play area, and water features within its conceptual inspiration.
Bounded by MLK Jr. Boulevard, Mint, Church, and Fourth streets, the park stands in an area once home exclusively to industrial offices and gravel lots. However, since the Charlotte City Center Partners began the 2020 Vision Plan for growth and development of the city, it has now taken on a more mixed-use identity. Nearby are the Bank of America Stadium, the Federal Courthouse, and the BB&T Ballpark.
Romare Bearden, an internationally-renowned twentieth-century visual artist, lived in the immediate area during his childhood in Charlotte. Although the new park’s design is not meant as a memorial, Sato and LandDesign have incorporated elements within it that evoke his artistic work and life. In a conceptual theme of “Burden and Memory,” the designers hope Romare Bearden Park induces visitors to entertain thoughts inspired by Bearden: from the Paris Memory courtyard, prompted by his influential time spent in Paris, to the Memory Walk along Church Street constructed of colorful pavement reminiscent of his artworks.
The park was originally set to open mid-June; but the completion was postponed due to weather delays. The three-day roster of events includes concerts, children’s activities, and artistic occasions. Mecklenberg Parks and Recreation Director Jim Garges told the Charlotte Observer that last week, about 90 percent of the landscaping and the paved work had been completed and that construction is on schedule. He was confident in the park’s ability to bolster interest in the area, “People aren’t laughing anymore about uptown. It’s become the place to be.”