Behind the trees, an architectural vision looms

Jul. 20, 2014 @ 05:46 AM

In the beginning, the building that is now the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center was a sleek, bright, white building surrounded by a plain of grass and asphalt. The edgy design evoked the future, and from certain angles the building could appear to be hovering a few feet above the ground.

It was a showplace -- a place not only to show off the latest furniture designs but to serve as a symbol of the big, forward-looking furniture company that built it in 1970 for its showrooms, Fairfield Chair Co.

The building, designed by architect John Ramsey of Salisbury, won awards for design, said Alvin Daughtridge, a vice president of Fairfield who has worked with the company since 1966.

That's why Brent Kincaid said in June, at his last meeting as a member of the Caldwell Community College & Technical College Board of Trustees, that the trees that have been planted around the building in the past few decades keep people from seeing the building's attributes.

The college bought the building in 1989 and reopened it as the civic center in 1993.

Since the June meeting, CCC&TI’s landscaping program trimmed trees in front of the building, removed some trees and cleared brush on the sides of the property, college president Ken Boham said.

“It looks good,” Boham said.

However, there seems to be little difference in the view of the building from U.S. 321.

The trees obscuring the building were not always there. Daughtridge said that while the landscaping is kept beautiful, the building's design can stand on its own.

“I think they do a good job of maintaining it, but I do think it is a showpiece,” Daughtridge said. “I think the majority of people in Caldwell County go there for significant events, so, yes, it should be maintained as a showpiece.”