The massive 1973 Charlotte Civic
Center occupies an entire city block bordered by East Trade, South
College, and East Fourth streets, and is bordered by the
Southern Railroad to the east. From street level the
building appears as a series of large tall and blank sections of
white masonry wall, veneered with oversized ceramic brick,
interrupted by a series of narrow recesses. The
largely blank walls are topped by a deep terrace, which is in turn
sheltered by a flat slab roof. From above, the relative
symmetry and horizontal nature of the building are apparent, as are
the Civic Center's most notable architectural feature, a group of
nine glass and metal pyramids.
The Civic Center defies typical
building form in several ways. The building consists of two tall
stories and has two main entrances, each located in one of the
building's corners. These entrances are deeply recessed,
sheltering an angled bank of six tall glazed doors set in a metal frame.
Each door is topped with a tall fixed glazed panel. The site
slopes down from south to north with the southern entrance slightly
below grade and the north entrance accessed by a low set of steps.
The terrace sections above the recessed entrances is supported by
a massive concrete posts.
The ceilings over the entrances has been
removed exposing many of the structural details of the building.
Reinforced concrete beams radiate from the column, supporting the
reinforced slab of the second floor. Concrete beams integrated
into this slab along the exterior walls support a steel frame upon which
the masonry skirt-wall sections above the entrances are suspended.
Also exposed is the concrete block construction of the building's
exterior curtain walls.
Entrance Ceiling Detail
4th Street Entrance
The College Street elevation is symmetrical
and composed of five wide bays separated by narrow recesses, with the
entrances occupying the outer bays. Despite the prominent and
public nature of this elevation, the center bay contains four
loading dock entrances, recessed below the second story slab floor. Each entrance is filled by
a large metal rolling door. An enclosed elevated walkway is
centered on the elevation, connecting to the open terrace of the second
story. Massive posts extend trough the terrace. The
posts end in integrated angled brackets , which support the roof deck.
The posts are painted a dark grey, and the exterior brick walls along
the terrace are painted black, to contrast with the bright white masonry
of the lower walls, and to give depth to the terrace. Banks of
windows alternate with blank brick walls along the terrace. The
roof deck is surrounded by a deep metal panel freeze, also white.
The paneled freeze features subtle decorative recessed panel sections
where the posts meets the roof deck.
The Fourth and Trade Street elevations are
similar. On each elevation eight bays are separated by seven
narrow recesses. With the exception of the entrances on college
street, the bays are largely blank expanses of white brick.
Because of the dramatic slope of the site, the walls become more massive
near the rear elevation, with heights of about 50'. Each elevation
is pierced by two wide parking deck entrances that access the basement
levels of the building. Most of the recesses along Fourth and
Trade streets contain paired metal exit doors that allow for evacuation
of the building. Each of the recesses is lit by modernist
sconces. Four widely spaced bracketed posts support the roof.
The rear elevation extends one bay past the roofline.