The City of Asheville and Buncombe County are partnering to document the community’s vision for the future of Pack Square Plaza, including the site where the Vance Monument was previously located.
This project is a continuation of work launched by the signing of a joint resolution of the County Commission and City Council to create the Vance Monument Task Force in the summer of 2020. The findings of that initiative led to the signing of a City Council resolution in March 2021 to remove the monument, and to the dedication of funds to a planning process for the future of the site.
The Friends of Buncombe County Special Collections and Asheville’s Public Art and Cultural Commission are helping to kick-start this effort by refreshing the existing Pack Square models displayed at the Pack Memorial Library, creating an online directory of resources that revisit the site’s history and narrative as well as launching a temporary public art program, Art in the Heart, that encourages diverse interpretations of the past, present and future of the site through inclusive programming. (see more information about the Art in the Heart program below or on the Public Art page.)
A Request for Proposals (RFP) was released on January 18, 2022 to seek a project manager to lead community engagement, and ultimately the development of a Vision Document that captures the community’s perspective on this area. The Vision Document is also anticipated to include detailed guidance on how the design, programming, and management of the space can become more equitable and inclusive for all residents and visitors, and include strategies that support implementation of the community’s vision.
Call for Artists Out Now! Art in the Heart
Art in the Heart will support the production of up to 10 temporary art projects and/or experiences in Pack Square Plaza, with artist stipends ranging from $500 to $1,500.
Art in the Heart is now accepting applications via this application LINK. Interested artists and creatives must submit their proposals by 5 p.m. on August 1, 2022.
Find more information on the City’s bid page: www.ashevillenc.gov/bids.
The impetus for this project comes from Asheville City Council direction following their decision on March 23, 2021 to remove the Vance Monument from Pack Square. The monument was built in 1897-98 to honor former North Carolina governor, confederate and enslaver Zebulon Vance, and was owned by the City and part of its Public Art and Memorials collection.
The elected officials’ direction came after a recommendation to remove the monument was made by the Vance Monument Task Force, which had been assembled in of 2020 as a response to community input, especially input during demonstrations following the murder of George Floyd, and input from Black Asheville Demands.
Removal of the monument began in spring 2021 and was substantially completed, but was put on on-hold June 2021 – April 2022 pending a North Carolina Appeals Court decision.
This project is also driven by an emerging sense in the community that it is time to create a new narrative around the past, present and future of Pack Square Plaza. This idea goes hand-in-hand with considering how the design and programming of the space can better reflect that narrative and our current values as a community. In addition to the removal of the Vance Monument as a motivation to reconsider the future of Pack Square, several other issues have been identified that suggest there is a strong opportunity to consider improvements to the design and programming of the space.
They include, but are not limited to:
- ADA access needs for the raised lawn on the northeast end of the square
- Insufficient sidewalk width on the west side of the museum
- Opportunity to improve connection and wayfinding to The Block, the historic African American district just south of the square
- Consideration to remove cars from North Pack Square to create more space for people
- Better reflecting the BIPOC experience in Asheville through public art, memorials, programming and design
- Resolving use conflicts and design issues with the west side of Biltmore Avenue
- Create a sense of community that extends beyond its attraction for tourism
- Lifts up its designation as a free speech zone and place for gathering
Timeline & Engagement
January 18, 2022 – RFP released for a Project Manager to lead community engagement and documentation of a Vision Plan – link to press release
January 28, 2022 – The City’s Public Art and Cultural Commission (PACC) held an Annual Retreat that focused on the Pack Square Plaza Visioning process and a temporary public art program to be launched. The meeting agenda is here and a recording of the meeting is here.
February 17, 2022 – PACC recapped discussions about the Pack Square Plaza Visioning process as well as planning for an upcoming inventory of existing public art and memorials in Pack Square. A link to the recording of the discussion is here.
PACC also received an update from staff on a temporary public art program being developed in coordination with the upcoming Visioning process. A recording of this update is available here.
March 17, 2022 – PACC completed an inventory and assessment of all public art, memorials and objects of memory in the Pack Square Area. See the Public Art & Cultural Commission page for more information.
March – April 2022 – Project Manager proposals being reviewed.
April 5, 2022 – North Carolina Court of Appeals issued a decision to dismiss claims against the City and allowing removal of the monument to proceed. More information is here. However, that decision has since been appealed.
May 26, 2022 – “Art in the Heart” temporary public art program launches. More information is here.
June 14, 2022 – Asheville City Council supports the execution of a contract with McAdams Company for community engagement, planning and urban design services. More information is here.
July 2022 – anticipated kick-off of a 6-9 month community engagement and planning process
- Map of the site
- RFP for Project Manager (January 18, 2022)
- Joint Resolution by Asheville City Council & Buncombe County Commission to appoint a Vance Monument Task Force (VMTF)
- Vance Monument Task Force webpage (including all engagement & meeting materials)
- Final Report and Recommendation of VMTF
- Staff Report to City Council regarding the removal of the Vance Monument (March 23, 2021)
- Background on the creation of Pack Square from the University of North Carolina at Asheville (UNCA)
- Background on Zebulon Vance/the Vance Monument namesake, from University of North Carolina’s Commemorative Landscapes Project
Urban Design & Place Strategies Manager
Planning & Urban Design Department