Charlotte Coliseum and Ovens Auditorium

A. G. Odell Jr. and Associates, architects; A. G. Odell, architect


Charlotte, Mecklenburg County
Street Address:

2700 E. Independence Blvd.





Images Published In:

Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina (2003).


The auditorium and, especially the coliseum, built in 1953-1956, were exemplars of modernism and symbols of a forward-looking community when they were built, and they maintain their position as Charlotte landmarks. The Charlotte Coliseum, built of steel and concrete and roofed in aluminum was cited at its completion as the world’s largest unsupported domed structure (332 feet in diameter). It gained wide acclaim in national publications and won numerous prizes.

The complex was conceived promptly after World War II, and a committee led by department store executive David Ovens chose Odell as architect in 1950. In part due to Korean War materials restrictions, its construction was delayed until 1953-1956. (Work on Raleigh’s innovative modernist landmark, the Dorton Arena (1950-1952), began in the nick of time before the wartime delay (see Matthew Nowicki. Some accounts report that the governor became aware of the forthcoming restriction and moved quickly to get the arena under construction before it took effect.)