2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
For several years in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the assumption was that a new and larger facility for the North Carolina Museum of Art would be located in downtown Raleigh near other museums and cultural attractions. Numerous architects were considered, including, according to reporter Ernie Wood, the prestigious modernist Marcel Breuer (News and Observer, Oct. 7, 1973).
In 1973, a committee headed by legislator Thomas White (D-Lenoir) selected architects Edward Durell Stone and Holloway and Reeves (who had planned the North Carolina Legislative Building) and—according to the News and Observer (June 19, 1973) without much public input—decided on a site west of Raleigh on state-owned property that was part of a youth prison facility. Illustrating Ernie Wood’s story, “Museum Plan Approved,” the initial drawings showed a very large multi-part facility that took advantage of the rolling topography (News and Observer, Sept. 22, 1973). Controversies over the site and the design ensued (News and Observer, July 5, 1974), and not until 1976 were the plans sufficiently complete to seek construction bids. The groundbreaking took place in 1977. Architect Stone died in 1978 while the building was under construction, and the building opened in 1983.
Changes to the design in size and materials developed, many of them driven mainly by economy. According to Wikipedia, one economy was to change the exterior material from marble to brick, which occurred after Stone’s death in 1978; this statement requires further confirmation. As built, the museum was much smaller than the original scheme, with a design based on manipulation of geometric square forms accommodating the sloping site. The simply detailed brick building is now part of a larger museum park that has numerous features, including the large West Building (opened 2010). A thorough history of the East Building’s design evolution is to be desired.