The North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) in Raleigh broke ground this week on a Museum Park expansion project designed by Denver urban design and landscape architecture firm Civitas. The NCMA’s 164-acre Museum Park is one of the largest art parks in the country, and the groundbreaking marks the start of a long-term phased expansion plan that will strengthen the relationship between interior and exterior spaces while fostering environmental sustainability. “Our design for the park expansion is intended to engage people in art beyond the galleries, promoting active connections with art and nature,” says Civitas Founding Principal Mark Johnson.
“As North Carolina’s state art museum, the NCMA has always been a community gathering place, but we now have the opportunity to be a catalyst for change for Raleigh and the state,” says NCMA Director Lawrence J. Wheeler.
Woodland and meadow habitat restoration is part of the planned expansion, which will create a new campus entrance and streetscape for the museum, as well as additional bike and walking paths, new paved parking lots and a central elliptical lawn that will be used for events and community programming. The project is expected to be completed in summer 2016. “It’s exciting to see major earthworks underway,” says Johnson, who attended the Nov. 18 official groundbreaking ceremony. “I can already see it’s going to be a stunner when it opens this summer.”
Community building through shared experience of the natural world is a Civitas hallmark, demonstrated in such recently completed projects as San Diego’s North Embarcadero waterfront park and Calgary, Alberta’s new St. Patrick’s Island park. “Cohesive open space systems establish the shared meaning and communal experiences that people enjoy and remember,” says Johnson. “In today’s connected world, people are prepared to experience art in new ways – and combine it with social sharing,” he adds. “Our plan for the NCMA helps to extrovert the museum – and stimulate activities, events and places beyond the museum walls.”