Creative Corridors project bridges transportation and the arts in Winston-Salem

by Keith Barber

Community collaboration was the overarching theme of a public input session regarding the Creative Corridors project for downtown Winston-Salem held at the Hanesbrands Theater on Feb. 23.

Glenn Walters of Design Workshop, a national urban design company, led the session where input from the public was gathered via a slide show presentation. Walters explained that the Creative Corridors Coalition, or CCC, a local group formed with the help of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, contracted Design Workshop to create a master plan and a set of design guidelines that will influence the design and engineering and construction of the project. Once the master plan is approved, Design Workshop will present it to the NC Department of Transportation.

“I personally have never seen anything like it in my experience,” Walters said. “To think that a group of people decided to take action like this and to build the coalitions that are necessary to get this going. The level of effort is truly amazing.”

Carol Strohecker, director of the Center for Design Innovation, said the city’s public art committee had been aware for some time that the department of transportation had pledged $250 million for the planned renovation of Business 40 and the corresponding renovations of the bridges along the downtown stretch of highway. The committee had been considering the bridge renovations as opportunities for public art.

The Winston-Salem bridges and gateways cited for inclusion in the project include Business 40, US Highway 52, Martin Luther King Boulevard, Broad Street and the Salem Connector.

Strohecker said she passed on the grant information to Milton Rhodes, president and CEO of the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. Rhodes turned to Carol Croop to write a grant proposal for the National Endowment for the Arts and the city was successful in securing the $200,000 grant. The grant funding allowed the Creative Corridors Coalition to col laborate with Design Workshop.

During last week’s session, Walters presented the audience with some basic principles his firm had already gleaned from its initial meetings with Winston-Salem citizens.

Boldly responding to Winston-Salem’s artful, resourceful, and innovative way of building and creating an economy while managing resources; acknowledging the past while promoting the future; creating a catalyst to repair disconnections while building new connections; achieving sustainability and bringing the “wow” factor to downtown Winston-Salem will serve as the unifying principles of the Creative Corridors project, said Walters said.