BizWorthy: Instagrammability Is The New Building Design Trend In Charlotte
Architects in Charlotte are increasingly being asked to do something new: Design buildings with features that would look good in Instagram posts. The push seems to be coming from building owners and marketers who want the free publicity that can come with social media buzz. But the request is rubbing some architects the wrong way.
For more on this and other business news, Tony Mecia of the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter joins WFAE Morning Edition host Marshall Terry for our segment BizWorthy.
Marshall Terry: Tony, what exactly makes a building "Instagrammable?"
Tony Mecia: Well, you know, there are a lot of things posted on Instagram. You know, something just with a nice design, something that looks pretty, something that's appealing to others and maybe gets people to double-click and to like the post. And as far as it relates to building design, I mean, that can be a number of things. That can just be the physical design of a building. It can be how the interior is decorated. Maybe it's stringing up some lights, or a mural.
And we've really seen this trend talking to architects and talking to retail brokers in town, that that's kind of coming up more and more -- that people, as they construct these buildings and design them and figure out what they're going to look like, they really want these buildings in some places to kind of "pop" where people can can take a selfie and post it and sort of do some free marketing for them.
Terry: Now, it seems a simple enough request, but you spoke to one of the city's leading architects who is against this trend. What were his complaints?
Mecia: Well, I talked to David Furman, who is one of the best known architects in town. He's done a number of buildings close to uptown. He's been around for awhile, and he said, "You know, what's really important is just that we have good principles of design." That he doesn't design buildings based on whether people can put them on social media. But he just likes likes good design, doesn't think that we need, necessarily, to be documenting every millisecond of our lives. But just really kind of likes the idea of you have a good design because that's something that is good for the community. You create walkable, livable spaces. You create something that is positive, not to capture for social media, but just because it's the right thing to do.
Terry: In doing your reporting on this story, what did you find were the most Instagrammable buildings in Charlotte right now?
Mecia: Well, there are a bunch. There's this movement toward more murals. You're seeing a lot more murals around town. You see them in SouthEnd, NoDa. You know, like there's a very Instagrammable heart mural near Jeni's ice cream in SouthEnd, you see a lot of pictures there. Those are, I mean, they're great works of public art and they add character. But, you know, I think they're part of the motivation also is that if you do something that can be easily captured and shared on Instagram, that it can help promote your business.
Terry: There was talk of moving Discovery Place's Nature museum from Freedom Park to Park Road Park near South Park. That was a bit of a mouthful. But how it seems that the museum is going to stay at Freedom Park -- at least that's the indication from county leaders, who this week met with residents who live around the park and say they're not happy about the plans. Why not?
Mecia: Well, Discovery Place and the county have been planning this expansion of Discovery Place Nature, which is what they call the nature museum now. They've been planning it at Freedom Park for the last few years. You know, this is a building that's been there since 1951, before many of the houses were even built there. And Discovery Place says it needs to be modernized. And only in the last few months really have a lot of these neighbors kind of come together and said, "Hey, we have some concerns about how they're expanding this."
They want to double the size of it. They say it'll double the number of annual visitors. A lot of residents there that live in the Freedom Park area are concerned about the potential increase in traffic, parking, people parking on their streets, knocking down trees for this expansion -- which they say doesn't send a great message about the value of nature. And so they have a lot of concerns about it.
The county and Discovery Place have been trying to work with the neighbors, figure out some sort of a compromise or some way to make it a little more palatable to expand there. They say Freedom Park is the appropriate place for that park. There had been some talk maybe moving it somewhere else. But right now, the county and Discovery Place are focused on expanding it at Freedom Park.
Terry: Finally, it looks like the town of Indian Trail is planning a 10,000-seat sports stadium. What for?
Mecia: Well, the Union County Weekly reported last week that the town manager in the Union County town of Indian Trail wants to build a stadium out there, a $20-30 million stadium that seats about 10,000 people. They could use it for youth sports there, any number of of uses. They don't have the money for it right now, Marshall, but they say they would like to sell naming rights. So if anybody out there, wants to put your name on a potential stadium in Indian Trail, it sounds like they're open for business.
Terry: And in that article that you're referring to, they say that the Panthers looked at the design plans and were actually impressed by it.
Mecia: Yeah, not exactly clear, but it said that the Indian Trail officials met with Panthers representatives and that the Panthers were impressed by their plans. I don't think that means that the Panthers are moving out to Indian Trail, though. They would like a new stadium -- I just don't think they want it in Indian Trail.