Cary News

Art for Cary downtown parking deck begins to take shape

The artists tasked with creating art that will be integrated into a downtown parking deck want to incorporate the area’s surrounding features – and its history – in its design.

For example, a mirrored metal panel on the north side of the deck would reflect the landscape of the adjacent Downtown Park, now under construction. It would make the four-level parking deck virtually disappear from that side.

Another idea has staggered openings in a brick facade to allow light to stream into the structure during the day and a glow to emanate from its windows at night.

These were just some of the ideas Tom Drugan of Haddad|Drugan presented Thursday, May 26, to gauge the reactions of Cary council members.

“This is just a kind of a work in progress, so we are not really at the concept level yet,” Drugan said. “We kind of wanted to keep everyone in the loop of where we are headed.”

Drugan and Laura Haddad make up Haddad|Drugan, a Seattle-based studio selected to design the integrated art for the deck near the corner of Walnut Street and Kildaire Farm Road. They are expected to present a minimum of three parking deck concepts to the Town Council at a July 20 work session.

Most council members were in agreement about what they would like to see on the deck, which will be next to a Wake County regional library. They supported a design with perforated brick to complement other structures in the area, including the Cary Arts Center.

“I like the brick a lot and the openings in the brick,” councilwoman Jennifer Robinson said. “I could see that being on part or all of the garage. I could see that as a really nice way of letting light into the garage without the garage looking like a garage.”

Drugan said they are considering brick textures that look like stacked books to go with the nearby library. He also suggested an idea using perforated metal that would create a firefly effect when light passes through the openings.

Council members weren’t as supportive of using perforated metal over the brick.

“I think on a lot of things, you’re kind of heading down the right path, just not too much of that big, perforated metal,” councilman Don Frantz said. “I don’t think it would respect the site and what’s around it.”

Besides playing with lighting, shadows and the surrounding landscape, Drugan said they also hope to integrate “small surprises” into the project. These would include small details, like a school bell that references the old Cary High School or light fixtures in the shape of gourds.

“Every time you come back, you see something new that you didn’t expect before,” councilwoman Lori Bush said in support of the surprise details.

Most of the surprise examples garnered support from the council, but not everyone wants to see gourds at the new parking deck.

Some council members like the gourds, believing they provide an educational opportunity to learn about something that once was important to Cary, which used to be known as the gourd capital of the world.

“But I don’t think we should overwhelm anything,” councilman Jack Smith said.

Wake County will oversee the design and construction of the 350-space parking deck. The design of the library and parking deck will take place this summer. Wake County plans to begin construction in the spring of 2017 and open the library during the fall of 2018.

Cary will pay an estimated $7.15 million for the parking deck plus an additional $1.2 million for a stormwater system that will serve the entire block, including the future Downtown Park. Wake County will contribute $1 million for parking.

The Cary Town Council has appropriated $180,000 to pay the artist and for other associated fees.

Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608, @KTrogdon