A Walk in the Art

Winston-Salem’s innovative new urban park

reimagines the term “green space”

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – From the towering red “smokestacks” that intermittently release clouds of water vapor (lighted at night) to the “artist performance shelter” that’s sculpted from silvery steel bands, downtown Winston-Salem’s latest attraction, dubbed ARTivity on the Green, is an eye-opening and smile-inducing new breed of public space.


The half-acre park, which sits between the city’s vibrant Arts District and Wake Forest University’s sprawling Innovation Quarter, was created through a private grant and spearheaded by Art for Art’s Sake (AFAS), a local nonprofit dedicated to making the arts accessible for everyone.


ARTivity on the Green officially opened on May 9, accompanied by a large crowd, live music, food vendors and a dignitary-studded ribbon-cutting.


“We wanted to create a space that speaks to Winston-Salem’s reputation as ‘The City of Arts and Innovation,’” said Harry Knabb, chairman and chief executive of AFAS, “while at the same time paying tribute to its industrial, tobacco-and-textiles past.”


Hence, the faux smokestacks and the liberal use of metal throughout the park – including rectilinear steel benches that resemble sawhorses.


Other unique features include sodded berms designed for lounging or picnicking; a large wall that will host murals by local artists; and eight-inch-wide red lines painted on the surrounding sidewalks to lead visitors into the park.


Another impressive fact:  the entire ARTivity Park project, which cost $2 million (and came in on budget), is a completely home-grown effort.  Architectural firm STITCH Design Group created the conceptual blueprints; Stimmel Associates handled the civil engineering and landscaping; and Frank L. Blum Construction Co. oversaw the actual construction.


Visitors to Winston-Salem can find the park easily; it’s situated on Liberty Street, between Sixth and Seventh streets, in the heart of downtown.  For more information, visit www.theafasgroup.com.

(photos by Doug Rice Photography).