Hillsborough Street continues its legacy with a collegiate brick makeover

Photo above courtesy: City of Raleigh

By now in downtown Raleigh, NC, the proud graduates, the relieved parents and the exasperated, eye-rolling siblings have all headed home from the latest graduation at N.C. State University and Meredith College, but for Kimley-Horn, an engineering company, and Fred Adams Paving Company, a paver installer, right about now’s when the work starts. A new streetscape of collegiate brick is about to be completed.

Photo courtesy Kimley-Horn.

With the hordes of bus-riding, car-driving, and running-to-get-to-class-on-time students gone,  the streets are freed up to make some progress on the renovation of Hillsborough Street, an iconic thoroughfare  where students socialize,  parade floats pass by during the holidays and basketball and football wins are celebrated.

It’s a landmark in Raleigh. One bar on Hillsborough Street once famously served as  the campaign headquarters for a gubernatorial candidate. Another bar was used during filming of Bull Durham. And in one of the more creative charity events, runners race from NC State’s Bell Tower down Hillsborough Street to a Krispy Kreme, eat a dozen glazed and then run back. If they can.

Right now, the old place is being made new again.

“This is when the construction really cranks up, because with this project, timing is everything,” said Brandon White, a landscape architect and associate with the engineering firm Kimley-Horn. “We had some utility work going on earlier and as soon as graduation was over, we got into the road and started working.”

White said that the Hillsborough Street project is being conducted in two phases, with the first having been completed five years ago. The second, which began about a year and a half ago and will double the renovation in size, is using Pine Hall Brick pavers to bring an overall unity to the two different phases.

Those used to the Hillsborough Street of the past will scarcely recognize what it looks like today. Traffic circles were put in during the first phase at Morgan Street, Pullen Street and Oberlin Road; the second phase will see new circles going in at Brooks Avenue, Friendly Drive and Dixie Trail.

Plans call for 5,900 linear feet of sidewalks in Pine Hall Brick pavers in the second phase. White said that the field will be in classic red, with darker contrasting pavers serving as a visual reminder next to the curb. The sidewalk will be laid in a running bond pattern for most of the way, with a herringbone pattern to draw attention at curb ramps.  Although there are some differences in design between the two phases in terms of benches, bus shelters, bike racks and lighting, the pavers will be the same – by design.

In addition to carrying a consistent theme from a design perspective, the clay pavers were specified for their durability and will stay the same color for decades into the future. Besides that, they provide good aesthetics for a neighborhood that’s now becoming more and more a place to live, work and play.

More than that, we’re talking NC State here.

The buildings on campus are made of red brick and so are the sidewalks. As long ago as 1958, the university’s master plan divided academic from student activities, into North and South campuses, respectively. In between, University Plaza, made of clay pavers and known locally as “The Brickyard,” became known as a central gathering spot on campus for students. (And during graduation weekend, some of the pavers in the Courtyard are liberated as souvenirs.)

It was only logical, then, for streets around the campus to be ringed by clay paver sidewalks.

“That was certainly part of the palate, because brick is certainly a big part of NC State,” said White. “They are the biggest stakeholder here.”

 

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