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Civitas Park Plan for North Carolina Museum of Art Breaks Ground

The North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) in Raleigh broke ground this week on a Museum Park expansion project designed by Denver urban design and landscape architecture firm Civitas. The NCMA’s 164-acre Museum Park is one of the largest art parks in the country, and the groundbreaking marks the start of a long-term phased expansion plan that will strengthen the relationship between interior and exterior spaces while fostering environmental sustainability. “Our design for the park expansion is intended to engage people in art beyond the galleries, promoting active connections with art and nature,” says Civitas Founding Principal Mark Johnson.

The Civitas design for the under-construction Museum Park expansion for the North Carolina Museum of Art includes an elliptical central lawn for special programming (image courtesy of Civitas).
The Civitas design for the under-construction Museum Park expansion for the North Carolina Museum of Art includes an elliptical central lawn for special programming (image courtesy of Civitas).
“As North Carolina’s state art museum, the NCMA has always been a community gathering place, but we now have the opportunity to be a catalyst for change for Raleigh and the state,” says NCMA Director Lawrence J. Wheeler.

Woodland and meadow habitat restoration is part of the planned expansion, which will create a new campus entrance and streetscape for the museum, as well as additional bike and walking paths, new paved parking lots and a central elliptical lawn that will be used for events and community programming. The project is expected to be completed in summer 2016. “It’s exciting to see major earthworks underway,” says Johnson, who attended the Nov. 18 official groundbreaking ceremony. “I can already see it’s going to be a stunner when it opens this summer.”

Community building through shared experience of the natural world is a Civitas hallmark, demonstrated in such recently completed projects as San Diego’s North Embarcadero waterfront park and Calgary, Alberta’s new St. Patrick’s Island park. “Cohesive open space systems establish the shared meaning and communal experiences that people enjoy and remember,” says Johnson. “In today’s connected world, people are prepared to experience art in new ways – and combine it with social sharing,” he adds. “Our plan for the NCMA helps to extrovert the museum – and stimulate activities, events and places beyond the museum walls.”

About the North Carolina Museum of Art:
The North Carolina Museum of Art’s permanent collection spans more than 5,000 years, from ancient Egypt to the present, making the institution one of the premier art museums in the South. The Museum’s collection provides educational, aesthetic, intellectual, and cultural experiences for the citizens of North Carolina and beyond. The 164-acre Museum Park showcases the connection between art and nature through site-specific works of environmental art. The Museum offers changing national touring exhibitions, classes, lectures, family activities, films, and concerts.

The Museum opened West Building, home to the permanent collection, in 2010. The North Carolina Museum of Art, Lawrence J. Wheeler, director, is located at 2110 Blue Ridge Road in Raleigh. It is the art museum of the State of North Carolina, Pat McCrory, governor, and an agency of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, Susan Kluttz, secretary.

About Civitas:
Founded in 1984 with the core purpose of “creating healthier cities,” Denver-based Civitas, Inc., is an idea-based practice of urban designers, architects and landscape architects engaged in strategic planning for urban change and project design for built works. A consultancy and a design studio, Civitas advises on a wide range of strategies for re-imagining urban life and places, working in U.S. cities coast to coast and around the world. For additional information visit