Preview: Public Buildings and Spaces

Recently, we took a look at the new, privately developed buildings that are being constructed downtown and will change the skyline of Durham. Today, we focus on public buildings. These construction projects shape the spaces that all Durham citizens can use and benefit from. At the same time, their design also changes the landscape of the city.

Durham Police Headquarters

Downtown/Near Edgemont and the Golden Belt

4 floors, 126,000 sq ft (on 4.5 acres)

Approximate Development Cost:
$71.5 million

Expected Completion Date:
August 2018

A new, beautiful police headquarters will be good for Durham. The old police hq is located on Chapel Hill St and in my opinion, isn't very attractive*. The new location of the facility is interesting. On one hand, it's a great statement that the headquarters is in a more central location of downtown. On that level, it sends the message that this is a police force for all of Durham. On the other hand, being right across from the Liberty Street Public Housing could also be seen as a bit confrontational. However, I believe that Durham had the best intentions when choosing a location.

*There has been some support to preserve the architecture of the old police headquarters. I think we should focus on preserving locations that are culturally significant, historic, and beautiful. I may not have the whole story, but from what I have heard, the argument for preserving the building centers around the fact that it is old and it was built by a Triangle architect. Perhaps some people also believe that it is beautiful, so to each his/her own.

Durham Main Library


4 floors, 85,000 sq ft

Approximate Development Cost:
$44.3 million

Expected Completion Date:
Early 2020

The renovation of the main branch of the Durham County Library is really exciting. Not only do renderings of the project look fantastic, with lots of glass and therefore natural light and connection to the community, there are also plans for great new spaces within the building. According to the Durham Library's website, some of the highlights include:
  • A new MakerLab, where the community can build tech and engineering projects
  • New meeting and conference rooms
  • 300 seat auditorium
  • Larger teen space
  • Media (music/video) production capabilities
  • Cafe
  • Outdoor Art Garden
  • Rooftop Terrace
That's a ton of exciting changes. Maybe someday they will even start a Library of Things, just like Sacramento, CA!'

Durham Belt Line

Duke Park/Old North Durham/Trinity Park/Downtown

2 miles

Approximate Development Cost:
$11.6 million

Expected Completion Date:

The Durham Belt Line is often described as a project similar to New York City's High Line Park. The idea would be to create a linear park, complete with path(s) for walking and biking, public art, and gathering spaces. It would not only serve as a great public green space, but a way to connect cyclists and walkers to various parts of the city. In 2017, Durham held a public event for members of the community to give feedback on the features and functionality that they wanted to see in the park (if you are interested, a report on that feedback can be found here). Meanwhile, I am excited to see this project become a reality. With the city still figuring out the details and time frame, I will just have to be patient!

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