Quick Hits: NC Mutual Life Building

Quick hits are posts about development news as I hear about them! If you have feedback on the format, please share in the comments below!

NC Mutual Life Building (Tower at Mutual Plaza)


12 story

Estimated Renovation Cost:
$11 million

Expected Completion Date:
September 2018

Renovations include new mezzanine, new concourse, co-working space, updated facade, new skylights, outdoor space, key card access, and new HVAC system.


Architects and Engineering Teams:
Avison Young, Built Form, Gilbane Building Company, Progressive Design Collaborative, McNamara-Salvia and Stewart Inc.

The NC Mutual Building is one of the most iconic in Durham, so I am very glad that it is in the hands of FORTY/AM and Carl Webb. The building absolutely needs updating. I am not a huge fan of its brutalist style. However, upon hearing about potential renovations a while ago, I was hopeful that they would retain the NC Mutual Life marquis at the top. That branding can be seen like a beacon throughout the city. It's not simply another company either. NC Mutual has been an important piece of Durham's history and was at one point, the largest African American owned business in the world. The story of NC Mutual is one that Durham can be proud of.

Fortunately, Webb announced that two of the four sides will retain the NC Mutual Life branding. I am happy with that compromise, considering it would have been easy to eliminate it altogether. FORTY/AM is also renaming the building the Tower at Mutual Plaza (formerly Legacy Tower), which is a great move as well.

As far as the renovations, I am excited to see another modern workspace come online. After this phase is completed, there may be additional phases, including a nearby parking structure and additional vertical office space on top of that.

If I owned a company, I would be falling over myself to have my branding on the remaining two sides of the top of the building (anyone want to pay for the Building Bull City logo to go up there?)


  1. Interesting--I hadn't heard about this! Also, I just wanted to let you know that though I don't always comment I have been checking the blog regularly and read all of your posts. I'm really enjoying the content so far--keep it up!

  2. Thanks Mitch! Appreciate it. Hoping to continue and do even more going forward, so I appreciate the early support!

  3. Interesting story about new performance venues being built around Durham, including one in this building and a bigger potential project at Northgate Mall. https://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/with-manbites-dog-gone-the-future-of-durham-theater-might-reside-at-wait-really-northgate-mall/Content?oid=17860656

    1. Thanks Steven - this is really interesting. Northgate is becoming a truly interesting place. With all of the empty storefronts as a canvas there seem to be some creative uses coming and/or already established. Duke bringing a clinic to the former Macy's, this theater, Durham Arts Council has a presence there including a pottery studio. It will be interesting to watch Northgate as it grows and changes!


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