Local News

Leaders Approve Raleigh Convention Center Design

Posted October 14, 2004 7:49 a.m. EDT

— It took two votes from the Raleigh City Council, but the look for the new convention center is set in stone.

During the first vote Thursday evening, only four of the five council members present approved the design. After a recess, council member Thomas Crowder changed his vote after council agreed to address some of his concerns.

Wake County commissioners unanimously approved the design.

Prior to the vote, the plan was still getting mixed reviews.

Crowder called the view from South Saunders Street "brutal." Others agreed

"I think it looks more like a gymnasium, a basketball coliseum," council member Philip Isley said. "It's not inspiring to me of something that will have a long-lasting impression on the city."

"I just don't like the blankness of it," Wake County commissioner Betty Lou Ward said.

There are plans to fill the blankness. The design team envisions a shimmering wall, similar to one at a Charlotte parking deck that would cost $650,000.

City and county leaders want companies to fund art around the building in exchange for naming rights.

"I'm very hopeful this community will rise to the occasion and see this as a beautiful building, not only for today, but for the future and will also want to invest it and create that magic," Ward said.

For $1 million, water could jump to music, similar to a fountain at Centennial Park in Atlanta.

"The amount of money is actually very small of the overall budget, about 1 percent, so I think it's reasonable," Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said.

The convention center is expected to cost $190 million and is scheduled to be completed in 2008.