Hood Design Studio joins team reimagining Charlotte’s demolished Thomas Polk Park

A New History

Hood Design Studio joins team reimagining Charlotte’s demolished Thomas Polk Park

Thomas Pol PArk was demolished earlier this year, and will be replaced by McColl Park. (Lornagraphic/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0)

This week Charlotte Center City Partners and the McColl Park Committee announced they will work with Hood Design Studio, led by Charlotte, North Carolina native Walter Hood; landscape and engineering firm Bolton & Menk; and the community on McColl Park, a new public space that will replace the demolished Thomas Polk Park.

Situated within Independence Square, Charlotte’s Thomas Polk Park was located at a site with a storied history. Independence Square is named for the Mecklenburg Resolves, a set of resolutions drafted there in 1775 setting the groundwork for the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Polk resided on the site which also marks the intersection of an indigenous peoples’ crossroads and historic trade routes.

At 15,000 square feet, the park was known for its waterfalls and rock-like construction made from Piedmont red granite. In recent years the park’s features fell into disrepair, its water elements no longer operated, it had poor lighting, and a rodent problem. Earlier this year the park was razed following a vote by Charlotte’s City Council. The vote also authorized its replacement with a new park named after former Bank of America chairman and CEO Hugh McColl. (Bank of America’s headquarters are around the corner from Polk Park.)

“It is fitting that a premier team of designers would embrace a project honoring Hugh McColl, who not only transformed the banking industry but also our community,” said Cyndee Patterson, co-chair of the McColl Park Committee, a private group raising funds for the project. “The design team’s collective expertise and commitment to listen to the community will ensure that McColl Park meets the needs and aspirations of our vibrant city.”

Bolton & Menk will serve as landscape architect and civil engineers on the project. Alongside community and city leaders, the two landscape design firms will come up with ideas for the “features, function and design aesthetics” of the new McColl Park. The gathering of community input will start on September 21 at an open house event that invites the public to meet the design team, share their vision for the park, and learn more about the project.

“We look forward to joining the team for McColl Park,” Hood said in a statement. “Growing up in Charlotte, I remember Trade and Tryon as the crossroads to get to any place by bus in town. We’re interested in investigating the layers of memory and stories of this place. Understanding McColl Park’s role in this dynamic city will be crucial in creating a place of beauty that also is resonant of its history.”

Prior to its demolition, The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) added Polk Park to its Landslide List, a collection of threatened landscapes. The commission for the former park was given to Danadjieva & Koenig Associates, a firm run by Angela Danadjieva and her husband Thomas Koenig, in October 1986.

The new McColl Park is estimated to cost $7 million project, which will be raised privately. Construction will begin once the community engagement and design development concludes.