This is a modern building with great personality and soul; it has a monumental scale, yet is beautifully detailed. It has a grand colonnade two stories tall on both Holland Street and Chapel Hill Street with an elliptical stair tower on the corner. Behind the colonnade there is a small plaza with a fountain (unused for years) on Chapel Hill Street and a raised garden bed on Holland Street. The two-story glass curtain wall behind the colonnade frames the banking hall inside, one of the best rooms in downtown. And there is a stunning private office that bubbles out into the planting bed on the Holland Street side.
Holland Street is a great little one-block street that’s almost a secret in downtown. It deserves to have more life on it; new buildings can be built along it, and existing buildings like Bargain Furniture could have new windows or balconies overlooking it.
David grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Cincinnati, and a Graduate Design Diploma from the Architectural Association in London. He has studied in Copenhagen, and traveled to 14 countries in Western Europe, as well as Greece, Turkey and Egypt. He’s the only member of the studio to have stood north of the Arctic Circle. And he single-handedly repaid Toast Restaurant their design fee with lunch purchases.
Main Street in the Warehouse District of downtown Durham has always been special to me. There is an amazing culture among the bars, coffee shops and restaurants. I can walk down the street at any time and see friends and colleagues. I love a place where you can have a cup of coffee, or a glass of wine at the James Joyce, and hold conversations with southern lawyers, waiters from Argentina, grad students from Bolivia and computer programmers from Jersey. It’s a huge world and all roads lead to Main Street.
Dawn grew up in a little town in Texas smashed between Dallas and Ft. Worth. She says the town is so small she can’t remember it’s name. She attended the University of North Texas in Denton where she studied biochemistry and journalism. Prior to working at Center Studio, she was the manager of Alivia’s Durham Bistro and the barista manager at Fowler’s Gourmet. She’s obsessed with great cheese, chocolate, tattoos and coffee. She named her son, Cash, after Johnny Cash and loves humanity more than the average bear.
I have a favorite table at Blue Coffee Café in downtown Durham. This corner is clearly one of the most amazing retail spots in the City. From this vantage I have a 270-degree panaorma to watch all of downtown Durham unfold. Gwen Mathews, one of my dear buddies, is the owner of Blue Coffee Café. Her tuna salad is old school and delicious. I recommend it on toasted wheat, with tomatoes and mayo, and classic Lays.
Gwen has hugged the President, and served him pound cake when he stopped by her café on a campaign stop through Durham back in 2008. At Blue Coffee Café, I know I’m at the heart of the matter in downtown Durham.
Scott was born in Atlanta, GA and grew up in Houston, TX. His first love was music and he thought he’d be a composer until an epiphany in his junior year of High School when he read the works of his favorite megalomaniac, Frank Lloyd Wright. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Rice University, and interned with Robert A.M. Stern in New York. Prior to founding Center Studio with David Arneson, Scott was in solo practice for four years and before that was a senior project manager at Community Planning and Architectural Associates in Chapel Hill. Scott has a big personality, but plays well with others. He doesn’t mind surrounding himself with people smarter than he is, as long as he gets most of the attention.
I love Durham’s ability to balance very unlike ideas. It’s both a fairly small, local town and home to world-class institutions and amenities. It is the kind of place where you can easily know your neighbors but also meet people from all over the world. I love the balance of history and heritage with new opportunities for growth and change. The unique combination of people and forces give Durham a wonderful quirkiness.
Five Points in downtown represents the epicenter of Durham’s great balancing act. This intersection is a historic meeting point in the center of the city. Today it is underdeveloped and yet remains a subtle center of Durham quirk: bars, restaurants, a park, an octogenarian tailor, tech startups, and private lofts designed by baby boomers who moved into downtown long before it was ‘hip’.
Five Points is where all the quirky parts of Durham’s past and future come together.
Tom grew up in the suburban landscape of Northern Virginia. (We argue that it’s better referred to as “capital sprawl” than “landscape”). He holds a BA degree in Historic Preservation from Mary Washington University, and a Masters of Architecture degree from University of Maryland. He is an adjunct faculty member at NC State University School of Architecture. He has travelled to Italy, Greece, Turkey, Ireland, France, UK, Costa Rica, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, Singapore and China. He taught architecture in Thailand for two years. Prior to Center Studio, Tom interned at Roughton, Nickelson, Deluca Architects in Durham, and Cooper, Robertson & Partners in New York. He very much enjoys kumquots.
I was taking a walk with my wife and dog one day shortly after moving to Durham and saw a strange site beside the trail. “Honey, is that a dinosaur in the woods?” It was.
The bronto is a Durham monument. It peeks out along a greenway trail in a seemingly random location, an object of awe and wonder for adults and kids alike. When someone decapitated the dinosaur as a practical joke, residents raised money with t-shirts and parties to have it fixed, despite the fact that this dinosaur has not been cared for in many years.
Even though the brontosaurus is not actually a real species of dinosaur, residents found its presence worthy of maintaining because it has become part of Durham and its story. A decrepit dinosaur statue has brought people together to enjoy each other’s company and celebrate a place. This sounds like a place where I want to live and work.
Will grew up in the burbs of Richmond, Virginia. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Virginia Tech and spent a semester living in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland. Prior to Center Studio he interned at Dixon Weinstein Architects in Chapel Hill. He loves sailing, soccer, and can recite most of Monty Python’s “Holy Grail” from memory. Will is a man of few words, but many talents.