Filed under: Civic Center

New public art installation and renovation at U.S. Cellular Center

***UPDATE*** Click below for a video showing how this great piece was installed!

A new chapter in the 4-year renovation and updating of the U.S. Cellular Center begins this week with the installation of a new terrazzo floor in the lobby of the Thomas Wolfe Theater.

The public artwork, designed by artist Joan Weissman, will be a vibrant addition to the U.S. Cellular Center, enhancing the experience for visitors while preserving the architectural feel of the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium and Asheville’s Art Deco style.

“The goal was to respect and refer to the site’s structural and decorative details, while adding a fresh and dramatic new focal point,” Weissman says.

Weissman was selected from a pool of 50 artists who responded to the City of Asheville’s call for artists in April. The call for artists was open to artists both local and national and who had experience in terrazzo floor design. Three finalists were selected, and a panel consisting of local artists and representatives from the City of Asheville and the Public Art and Culture Commission brought its recommendation before the full Commission for approval.

Noted for her rug designs, Weissman also creates designs for terrazzo floors, tapestries and fabrics. Her work has been featured in Interior Design, Hali, Western Interiors, Paris Home and Veranda. Her floor designs can be found at the University of New Mexico Center for the Arts and in the New Mexico Governor’s Mansion.

Like Weissman’s design, the floor installation itself incorporates a new vision with a historical component: Asheville Tile, the company performing the installation, represents three generations of work in the city. Owner Ronnie Smith’s father Albert laid the original lobby floor when the Civic Center was constructed in 1974, and Smith’s grandfather installed the mosaic on the front of Asheville City Hall.

“It’s really a neat thing to see this kind of family tradition being carried out in person,” says U.S. Cellular Center General Manager, Chris Corl. The installation, Corl says, is being recorded in the form of a time-lapse video that will be posted online when the project is complete in mid-September.

The City of Asheville remains dedicated to providing public art that enhances and confirms the city’s artistic culture and creative economy.

“This public art project perfectly illustrates how art creates economic opportunity that ripples through the community, providing opportunities for local companies and craftspeople,” said Debbie Ivester, assistant director of the City of Asheville’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department.

The installation of the U.S. Cellular Center’s terrazzo floor is part of an ongoing $12 million renovation of the facility. Needed roof repairs, restroom updates, box office redesign and other enhancements have already been completed. Funding for the renovations comes from the City of Asheville, Buncombe County, the Tourism Development Authority and U.S. Cellular. Ongoing projects include the expansion of convention and box seating spaces and the exterior lobby entrance. The enhancements are a large part of attracting new business and events like the SoCon Basketball Championships to Asheville.

More from the coablog:

U.S. Cellular Center prepares for audience of conferences and trade shows

Leave a Comment October 1, 2013

Film Festival brings local fare to movie lovers

ASHEVILLE – This year’s Asheville Film Festival: “A Day at the Movies” celebrated productions that were filmed in and around the Asheville area.

The one-day, free event showcased “Patch Adams,” “28 Days” and “In Dreams.”

Sam Powers, director of Economic Development and of the Asheville Civic Center, described the festival as “a way to fulfill the Civic Center’s mission to [serve] the community at-large.”

“Patch Adams,” starring Robin Williams, was the first movie of the day. The 1998 comedy-drama is based of the life story of Dr. Hunter “Patch” Adams and his untraditional approach to practicing medicine. Adams founded The Gesundheit! Institute, which its website describes as “a project in holistic medical care based on the belief that one cannot separate the health of the individual from the health of the family, the community, the world, and the health care system itself.”

Professional movie location scout Michael Bigham talks about his work on "Patch Adams," as industry colleague Pam Lewis looks on.

Michael Bigham, an Asheville-based film location scout, greeted moviegoers at the first film. He worked on “Patch Adams,” as well as “The Last of the Mohicans,” “Forrest Gump” and “Hannibal,” among others.

“Patch Adams” filmed on the grounds of the Biltmore Estate, and several scenes of the Appalachian Mountains were shot off the Blue Ridge Parkway on Elk Mountain Highway in Asheville.

Bigham said he very much enjoyed his experience on the “Patch Adams” set.

“Out of all the movies that I have done, Patch Adams was the most fun,” he said. “The people that work, like the director and the assistant director, and especially Robin, can make something fun or arduous. Because of the amount of hours you put in to make a movie, it’s a lot better when it’s pleasant than when it’s not.”

The second movie featured was 2000’s “28 Days,” starring Sandra Bullock as an alcoholic forced to choose between jail or rehab. It was filmed largely at a Black Mountain conference center that stands in as the rehabilitation facility in the movie.

Commentary was done by Lee Nesbitt-Madison who has been in the film industry for more than 30 years and who has worked on movies such as “Smokey and the Bandit” and “The Hunt for Red October.”

The final film was “In Dreams,” a 1999 psychological thriller starring Robert Downey Jr.  and Annette Bening, filmed in part at Fontana Dam. Commentary was provided by Pam Lewis, current director of entrepreneurship at the Asheville Area Chamber of commerce and former director of the WNC Film Office. She has assisted with recruitment and fulfillment on projects such as “My Fellow Americans,” “28 Days” and “Digging to China.”

Leave a Comment October 5, 2011

City launches interactive recycling kiosk

ASHEVILLE – About two dozen people came out to Tuesday’s official launch of the city’s new interactive recycling kiosk at the Asheville Civic Center.

The kiosk – which urges people to “be social, do good” – was funded by a grant from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and was created through a partnership between the city’s Office of Sustainability and Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College’s Sustainable Technologies Program.

The kiosk also features a quiz to test users’ “green” knowledge and a video on recycling.

Users can take advantage of single-stream recycling at the kiosk, and can also take a picture in its photo booth and share it via email, Facebook and other social media.

To learn more about the Office of Sustainability, its goals, green initiatives and projects, visit:

Attendees take the quiz and upload photos to social media on the city's new interactive recycling kiosk, which was officially launched Tuesday at the Asheville Civic Center.

Rachel Rogers, city sustainability outreach specialist; Bradley Barrett, an A-B Tech student who worked on the kiosk's creation; and Maggie Ullman, energy coordinator for the City of Asheville, gathered for the kiosk's official launch.

Rachel Rogers, who leads outreach for the city's Office of Sustainability, speaks about the interactive features of the new recycling kiosk at the Asheville Civic Center.

Leave a Comment September 7, 2011

City of Asheville’s technology roll out increases efficiency across departments

In an organization of more than 1,000 people, speedy and accurate information flow means not only increased efficiency but also real dollars. That’s an underlying theme that emerges when City of Asheville employees talk about the recently launched technology upgrade that provides not only swifter access to data but also easier communication between city departments and city customers.

The Munis system purchased by the City of Asheville from Tyler Technologies grew out of a 2009 commitment by Asheville City Council to fund a Business Technology Improvement Project to replace the organization’s aging mainframe-based system with a state-of-the-art streamlined tech upgrade.

The new system is targeted to business transactions within the city’s financial, human resources, contract management, purchasing and inventory, and utility billing functions. Dramatically eliminating paper forms in favor of digital ones reduces the time spent on each step of a transaction such as a business license application, as well as the time it takes to navigate the approval process. In a summary he wrote for the City of Asheville’s E-News in 2009, Information Technology Services Director Jonathan Feldman noted that experts estimate the switch can save more than $3 in staff time and material costs per form.

“It reduces the staffing needed for these processes, and it reduces redundancy.” Feldman says, adding that more accurate and accessible data means that city departments can close revenue gaps that may have been difficult or impossible to find with a paper-based system.

The system has been deployed in all city departments, with department heads and employees meeting with the IT department and experts from Tyler Technologies to determine how best to apply the software in their departments. In January, the city’s payroll division will join the offices using the system, followed by utility billing in July.

And like the city’s MapAsheville GIS mapping system developed in 2006, the city’s use of the Munis system will continue to evolve as more and more applications for the technology emerge.

“It’s pretty massive,” Feldman says. “It’s not just IT doing this. It’s a huge collaboration. Each department has to take ownership of how it applies to their product.”

Development Services Director Robert Griffin praised the upgrade as a boon for his department, which is in charge of processes like construction permits and business licenses. Griffin says the Munis system cuts down on the time it takes for a business privilege license to be processed, and even sends him emails when there is a form that needs his attention.

“It allows us to be more efficient and more responsive to the outside customer,” he says.

4 Comments November 5, 2010

Asheville Civic Center awarded $2 million grant by Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority

From the Asheville Civic Center blog:

The Asheville Civic Center has been awarded a $2 million dollar grant, to be funded over a 4-year period, from the Tourism Product Development Fund of the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority, the City announced today. The grant will help fund a proposed $5.45 million dollar renovation of the Asheville Civic Center. The Tourism Product Development Fund, which is funded through the Buncombe County hotel occupancy tax, is dedicated to projects that will increase tourism and overnight lodging.

Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy noted: “This is an incredible opportunity. The Asheville Civic Center is an important economic engine for our city and our region. These funds will allow us to greatly improve the facility — and these improvements will benefit local residents and tourists alike.”

The proposed Civic Center improvements include new seating for the lower level of the arena, renovating the balcony seating and flooring, improving the locker rooms and dressing rooms, upgrading the lighting, messaging and sound systems in the arena, concourse renovations, and information technology improvements. The City of Asheville recently issued a Request for Qualifications for architectural and engineering services to begin the renovation process.

Sam Powers, Director of the city’s Office of Economic Development and Director of the Asheville Civic Center, commented: “This grant will play a major role in making our facilities better for fans, performers and promoters. We attract more than 200,000 patrons a year — and our research shows that over 70% of our ticket sales come from outside of Buncombe County. These visitors stay in local hotels, eat in local restaurants and support local businesses. The Civic Center generates a substantial economic impact. It is an asset worth investing in. We are thrilled that the Tourism Development Authority, Buncombe County and the City are coming together as partners in this project.”

The Asheville Civic Center first opened its doors 36-years ago and has hosted everything from concerts, plays, trade shows and sporting events to local high school graduations. Mike Burke, Chairman of the Asheville Civic Center Commission, noted that, “Even though the arena is in its fourth decade of use it has good bones. Our project will add new life to the building and allow us to be even more competitive as a regional entertainment venue.”

Recently the Southern Conference named Asheville as the host city for its men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments beginning in 2012. The games will be played at the Asheville Civic Center and at U.N.C. Asheville’s Kimmel Arena.

Click here to see the original post at the Asheville Civic Center blog.

1 Comment July 29, 2010

No-smoking ordinance prohibits smoking on city property starting July 1

Beginning July 1, a revision to City of Asheville’s no smoking ordinance prohibits smoking on all city owned and occupied property. The new language applies to all City of Asheville parks, greenways and the grounds of city municipal facilities.

The move is intended to provide a healthier environment for City of Asheville employees and the general public and reduce exposure to secondhand smoke. With cigarette butts constituting a large portion of litter in the City of Asheville, the non-smoking ordinance is expected to contribute to the overall cleanliness of the city as well.

The revised ordinance will not apply to city sidewalks and streets except where sidewalks are inside park boundaries. The sidewalk surrounding downtown’s Pritchard Park, for instance, is within the park’s borders and therefore will be subject to the non-smoking ordinance.

The law allows for designated smoking areas at city facilities, to be determined by the Asheville City Manager. A designated smoking area for the Asheville Civic Center will be determined in the near future.

Enforcement of the ordinance will rely on community policing and will be complaint-based. Violation of the ordinance could result in a fine up to $50. City crews will soon be installing signs clearly marking areas where smoking is prohibited.

The amended ordinance was passed by Asheville City Council in April, enabled by 2010 legislation by the North Carolina General Assembly.

2 Comments June 15, 2010

Welcome to the City of Asheville Blog!

The City of Asheville, NC is excited to share content though this new blog. We hope that you find the content useful and informative. Thanks for reading.

15 Comments May 12, 2010

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