Under the Dome

December 11, 2013

McCrory says state buildings 'ugly as the dickens'

During a Q&A at a meeting of the Midtown Raleigh Alliance, the governor bemoaned the windowless buildings, missing sidewalks and lack of first-floor retail in state government buildings.

Gov. Pat McCrory offered a critique of state government architecture on Wednesday morning, complaining that many of the state buildings and parking decks in downtown Raleigh are “frankly as ugly as the dickens.”

The remarks came during a question-and-answer session at a meeting of the Midtown Raleigh Alliance, a chamber of commerce-type group representing the North Hills area. McCrory said he’s dismayed to look out from the governor’s mansion and see windowless buildings constructed in the 1960s and ’70s.

“It’s almost as though we built our government buildings as if they were bunkers in World War II,” he told the gathering of about 100 business leaders. “They look like they were built at Dunkirk, or on D-Day in Normandy.”

McCrory didn’t name specific buildings but noted the lack of any first-floor retail space, blank walls and missing sidewalks as a major concern. The State Records Center sits across Blount Street from the governor’s mansion and is known for its boxy design with no windows. The governor joked that he hoped none of the architects were listening.

“To me, that’s not appealing,” he said. “We have a responsibility to brighten up that place.”

The governor didn’t offer any details on how he proposes to update the out-of-fashion architecture. In the same speech, he lamented North Carolina’s low teacher pay, which he said he’s been unable to address so far because of Medicaid cost overruns.

But if the office buildings ever get an overhaul, McCrory might look to North Hills developer John Kane for advice. “You did a great job of retrofitting an old ’60s mall into an urban village,” he said of Kane’s revitalization efforts along Six Forks Road.

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