N.C. State bookstore is toast despite an effort to save it

Staff WriterJune 30, 2011 

— A landmark on the N.C. State University campus is vanishing.

Demolition has started on the 50-year-old student bookstore, to the disappointment of some preservationists. A photo of the building's distinctive "folded-plane" walkway canopies appeared this spring in Preservation Magazine, published by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The building is being torn down to make way for a major addition and renovation to the Talley Student Center.

The university plans to spend $120 million to remake the student center, expanding it by two-thirds, to 283,000 square feet. The plan for the first of the project's two phases includes replacing the bookstore with green space and a small part of the addition, as well an underground loading dock.

All the work on the student center is expected to be completed by fall 2014, said Lisa Johnson, the university architect.

The demolition will be finished in about three weeks, she said.

The blog Goodnight Raleigh!, which covers local architecture, history and art, started a campaign this past winter to persuade the university to save the bookstore.

Blogger John Morris said some of its design elements, such as the canopies, floor-to-ceiling glass and unusual brickwork, were unique on campus. Also, he noted, it provided a link to a lofty period in the history of the university's College of Design. The architect, G. Milton Small, taught there briefly and was one of a group that helped lift the school into national prominence.

Small led a Raleigh firm that designed a host of other modernist buildings and homes in the area.

Even supporters, though, admitted that the bookstore's charms were subtle.

The current dean of the design college, Marvin Malecha, has said that while the bookstore and canopies have aesthetic value, they weren't distinctive enough to merit a campaign to preserve them. That's particularly true, he said, given that the student center renovation is expected to be an attractive design, and that its architect, Turan Duda, is a noted NCSU alumnus.

jay.price@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4526

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