Whenever I am in a new place I try hard to orient myself with the things that give a place some soul. I am sitting in a mediocre hotel in what appears to be office park in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the ubiquity of a landscape like this makes me desperately search for something more meaningful.
And I found it. Not sure I am going to be able to find the place in person on this quick trip — but I thought I would share it with you anyway because I find stories like this fascinating–
The Raleigh Water Garden was the home base of of Richard Bell for over 50 years. Richard Bell is one of Raleigh’s iconic landscape architects having designed many of the most prominent public garden spaces in the city.
His Water Garden is described (on Dick Bell’s Website) as:
“An 11-acre, Taliesin-like landmark in Raleigh N.C. is about to be transformed into low-income housing.
Landscape architect Dick Bell’s Water Garden was conceived in the mid-‘50s as a Shangri-La for the creative community in central North Carolina.
It was decades ahead of its time.
The well-known landscape architect developed it as the city’s first mixed-use development for artists and designers in 1955, though he wouldn’t actually complete it for 14 years. It was to be his home, his business and his landscape laboratory. It also served as studio and gallery for those in need.”
The full story of the site and it’s current status is available on Goodnight Raleigh, where I read about this place today. It is an interesting, if not a bit sad – story of the creation of a modern masterpiece and then it’s ultimate very recent demise.
So now that I have a slightly better sense of this place and region — I am looking forward to spending the afternoon looking around and seeing what I see — wondering what part the many local luminaries of design – like Dick Bell – had in creating what is along my path.
images from goodnight raleigh