Young Black architects get elevated in a design competition for retail pavilions for Charlotte’s Camp North End

New Models

Young Black architects get elevated in a design competition for retail pavilions for Charlotte’s Camp North End

One of four winning design concept for a retail pavilion at the forthcoming Keswick Platform at Camp North End in Charlotte. (Marcus R. Thomas/Courtesy ATCO Properties & Management)

n a former Charlotte, North Carolina, industrial site once used to manufacture everything from Cold War-era missiles to Ford Model Ts, has announced the winners of a recent design competition aiming to elevate emerging Black architects from the Charlotte area.

Entrants in the competition were tasked with designing pavilions that will eventually be realized at Keswick Platform, a forthcoming Camp North End retail corridor at 701 Keswick Avenue. The mixed-use office building is part of the second phase of the ambitious, adaptive reuse-focused redevelopment project that’s set to include residential, retail, office, and event spaces when fully completed. Among the existing historic buildings at the site that have been revamped as part of the project is a 1924 Albert Kahn-designed Ford assembly plant.

The winning architects, announced by Camp North End developer ATCO Properties & Management are Hasheem Halim, general manager of design development workshop Saturn Atelier, LLC; Aleah Pullen, a recent UNC Charlotte graduate and architectural designer at Apogee Consulting Group; Melanie Reddrick, AIA, NCIDQ, a project architect with Little Diversified Architectural Consulting, and Marcus R. Thomas, AIA, NCARB, managing principal at community-based design firm KEi Architects. The four winning concepts were selected from a total of 24 submissions, which were then narrowed down to a shortlist of ten finalists by the competition jury. All ten finalists received $1,000 each while the winners received an additional $2,000 for their work. Keswick Platform will be home to a total of seven pavilions that will “serve as future home of local small businesses and food & beverage concepts” according to a press release shared by ATCO.

In addition to ATCO, which is headquartered in New York City but maintains a Charlotte office, the competition jury was composed of team members from S9 Architecture and BB+M Architecture. Both firms, based in New York and Charlotte, respectively, are involved with the Camp North End project.

“We are thrilled with the response we received for this competition,” said Damon Hemmerdinger, co-president of ATCO Properties & Management, in a statement. “By recognizing these talented professionals and shining a light on their innovative designs, we hope to elevate the important work of Black architects in Charlotte and create more equity in the design process as well.”

Here’s a look at the four winning design proposals with brief descriptions provided by ATCO:

rendering of a retail pavilion concept in camp north end
(Hasheem Halim/Courtesy ATCO Properties & Management)

Connecting the past to the present, Hasheem Halim’s proposal honors Camp North End’s historic features in his pavilion design. As visitors approach the pavilion, the site’s former railroad tracks direct the eye to the entrance. The ties also serve as a frame for the new mural and window display. Additionally, Halim takes cues from the site’s brick buildings and vibrant masonry. In paying tribute to the original brickwork, recycled plastic tile is upcycled and renewed into a beautiful purpose, much like the broader development and North End neighborhood. The pavilion’s color scheme uses light grays and browns, which will allow a future retailer or restauranteur to own the design of the space with colorful signs, murals, and lighting.”

rendering of a retail pavilion concept under camp north end
(Aleah Pullen/Courtesy ATCO Properties & Management)

Aleah Pullen “draws inspiration from Camp North End’s existing buildings while allowing room for the tenant’s individual creativity to shine through. In her design, the exterior façade is made up of smooth, metal-clad panels, which can be customized by painting to the tenant’s desired color. As another unique element of the design, the pavilion’s left wall is shared, which uses a standard gypsum material wallboard. This feature allows the tenant mural space to paint, hang items for display, or install shelving of their own.”

rendering of a retail pavilion concept
(Melanie Reddrick/Courtesy ATCO Properties & Management)

Melanie Reddrick’s “pavilion design pays homage to Charlotte’s Sanborn maps, which have recorded 100 years of growth and change in Charlotte’s North End. Utilizing materials like wide metal channels and pressure-treated plywood street signs, this design looks forward, while remembering the shadows of streets that have faded away.”

rendering of a retail pavilion concept
(Marcus R. Thomas/Courtesy ATCO Properties & Management)

“Using the Charlotte skyline as a frame, Marcus R. Thomas’ design juxtaposes the new high-rises of Uptown Charlotte with the city’s past, where vibrant African-American communities once stood. Etched within the reclaimed metal panel featured on the façade of the pavilion is a map of Uptown Charlotte as it exists today. LED lights will backlight the areas of the panel where historic structures, important to Charlotte’s African-American community, once stood or still reside. The rest of the design takes cues from traditional African huts, using natural elements like reclaimed wood and plants, as well as fiber optic string lights to mimic the starry night’s sky.”