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Pine Hall Brick pavers part of downtown revival

June 29, 2016

in front of resturant 3
If you look hard enough at Center Street in downtown Goldsboro, NC, you can see the past and the future at the same time.

The past was the railroad, which is the reason the town is there.

The Wilmington and Weldon Railroad was completed in the 1840s. The intersection of the rail line and New Bern Road sparked construction of a hotel, which in turn led to the growth of a community around it. It was first called Goldsborough’s Junction and was named after Matthew Goldsborough, an assistant chief engineer with the railroad line. Railroad connectors to Charlotte and Beaufort helped grow the town even more. During the Civil War, the railroad was seen as vital to Confederate interests and not surprisingly, was often the target of Union attacks intended to cut supply lines.

That railroad is why the right of way on Center Street in downtown Goldsboro is 140 feet wide. The width was to accommodate railroad tracks that ran down the center of the street until they were removed in the 1920s. Even though Center Street is seen as the historic heart of both the downtown district and the city itself, the design – including four rows of angled parking, a narrow concrete median and 12’ sidewalks – meant that almost all of the 140 foot right of way was under pavement of one kind or another. And that meant, also, that downtown began to struggle as businesses and shoppers alike fled the cluttered center city for strip shopping centers and office buildings on the outskirts of town.

What was needed was to find a way to get people back downtown.

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The solution

Enter Allison Platt.

Platt, a landscape architect and urban designer, prepared the master plan which recommended streetscape improvements as a high priority for downtown revitalization.

PHB - Goldsboro Night

Platt’s design called for widening and redesigning the brick sidewalks from 12′ to 17′ and providing a wider landscaped median on each block. Roundabouts were added at each intersection to allow removal of traffic lights and arms and improve both pedestrian and vehicle safety. Other elements that added to the appeal of the street included wifi service and speakers mounted on new streetlights that allow music to be piped to the street. Bike lanes and bike racks were added throughout the project.

Two different cross-sections of the street were designed. Sections with the highest concentration of existing retail businesses have two rows of angled parking. Sections with less retail have four rows of parallel parking and a wider median. This design allows more parking where it is needed and at the same time, wider medians on other blocks to provide space for festivals, farmer’s markets and other community activities.

Sidewalk w bench
The method

To pick up on existing colors and textures of the surrounding red clay brick buildings, sidewalks and median parks use three colors of Pine Hall Brick clay pavers, with a banded pattern on the sidewalks and varied patterns utilizing the same three colors in the median parks to add visual interest. The pavers are purposefully set on a sand base, which means that when underground utilities need repair, the pavers can be taken out and set to one side, the work can be done and the pavers can be replaced, without damaging the sidewalk or changing its appearance.

In addition to benches and tables throughout the project, brick seat walls enclose the median parks and accommodate additional seating during public events such as parades and festivals.

Green building principles were used throughout the project. The clay pavers themselves are green, in that they are made out of readily available shale and water, do not change color over time and are durable enough to last forever.

In addition to the hardscape installation, new trees were introduced, including Bosque Elms on the sidewalk to maximize views to storefronts, and Willow Oaks in the median to eventually provide a high shady canopy in the warm summer months.

Other examples of green construction include the elimination of pavement, therefore improving storm drainage and increasing water entering the ground, the inclusion of continuous structural soil under the sidewalks to help the trees grow, additional pedestrian space and new bike lanes.

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The results

The installation hasn’t been in place that long (Phase One in November 2012, Phase Two in November, 2015), but it has already won awards from the North Carolina chapter of the American Planning Association and the North Carolina Main Street program. And its early success has helped jumpstart the project: based in part on Phase One, the City of Goldsboro won a $10 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant that helped fund Phase Two.

More importantly, people are indeed coming back. The December, 2015 Lights Up! dedication brought an estimated (and record-breaking) 5,000 people downtown. In all, 49 new businesses have opened on or near Center Street and 23 commercial buildings are in the process of rehabilitation since Phase One began, including new opportunities for second-floor residential development.

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Congratulations, Class of 2016!

May 26, 2016

Photo: Elon University

Across America, this is the season for college commencements. Each is different and yet, each is the same. Parents and siblings come in. Hundreds are in matching caps and gowns, forming lines that are not too far removed from the single-file, no-pushing lines they used to form in second grade as they walked obediently outside for a fire drill or to the cafeteria for lunch.


Photo: Elon University

But this is different. For most, it’s the beginning of adulthood – careers, home purchases, families. Perhaps decades from now, these new graduates will be seated in those same chairs on that same sun-washed lawn, watching their own children walk up, take their diploma, shake hands with the college president , turn and smile.

We’re betting that a lot of what these graduates see when they are firmly in middle age—and watching a graduation line march, as opposed to marching themselves—will look a lot like it does today. We know, because we at Pine Hall Brick Company have been a big part of scores of college campuses for decades, playing a role that’s almost subliminal.


Photo: High Point University

Those who design buildings will tell you that the design of a particular place will depend on its use. A warehouse will look different from a church. An office building will look different from a fast-food restaurant. And a college will look, well, like a college.


Photo: High Point University

Conventional, residential, four-year colleges have a look and feel all their own.  The residence halls, classroom buildings, dining halls and recreation centers tend toward similarities at every campus: classic architecture, usually of red brick. Fountains (usually hit at 3 a.m. at least once a semester by detergent-wielding students.)  A bell tower that either congratulates you for getting there on time or chides you several times a  day for running late. And everywhere, from the University of North Carolina to the University of Southern California, there are pathways of Pine Hall Brick clay pavers, close in next to buildings or across a quad of oaks.

Wake Forest University hosts the 2016 Commencement Ceremony on Hearn Plazas on Monday, May 16, 2016.  Winston-Salem Councilwoman Vivian Burke is hooded with her honorary Doctor of Laws degree by assistant provost Barbee Oakes.

Photo: Wake Forest University

Sometimes, they allow students to walk two abreast;  others have bicycle lanes of clay pavers running alongside.  In some places, clay pavers have been enlarged into a plaza, where they have been engraved with the names of those long graduated, who contributed money to their alma mater.

We’ve written often about our partnerships with institutions of higher education. We’re  at East Carolina UniversityHigh Point UniversityFurman UniversityAuburn University, the University of South Carolina, the University of PennsylvaniaWake Forest UniversityConverse College, the University of North Caroina at CharlotteChamplain CollegeNorth Carolina State University and Flagler College.

And there are scores of others; too many to list.

Photo: Wake Forest University

Photo: Wake Forest University

We had occasion not too long ago to chat with a facilities manager at a leading university. He told us that they decided on a clay paver walkway up to campus buildings because it sent a message that students were entering a place that needed to be taken seriously, a place where it was their privilege to be, a place where they needed to pay attention and learn how to build a life for themselves and their communities. Out of all the places that they would visit, this was a place where they needed to be fully engaged and authentic.

Congratulations , then, to the Class of 2016. Your achievements are real; your potential has been demonstrated; and now, the real challenges begin.

You’ll be back here, on a future spring afternoon, waiting for your children to graduate. And so will we.


Photo: High Point University

Founder’s Walk merges bikes and pedestrians on colorful pavers

April 28, 2016

At East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, the modern-day slogan is Tomorrow Starts Here.

Looking toward the future is nothing new in this place, which began as a teacher’s college in 1907 and which since then has grown into the third largest university in North Carolina, with renowned programs in the arts, sciences,  business and medicine.

Accordingly, an investment in tomorrow in the form of clay paver walkways and bicycle paths – Founder’s Walk – has brought a unifying design element to the historic campus mall,  to what was once a disjointed collection of vehicle alleyways and parking lots.


Raleigh, NC-based landscape architecture firm ColeJenest & Stone said that the challenge was to provide a pedestrian – and bicycle-friendly  – environment to the main part of campus. The goal was to convert the aging asphalt surface parking into a multi-use path.

The pattern creates pedestrian and bicycle zones in the 18-foot-wide path. Pine Hall Brick Company pavers in a basketweave pattern were used to define the 10-foot pedestrian zone, with a herringbone pattern for the bicycle lanes. Dark accent chevrons that point the way to the correct direction of travel were used in the bicycle lanes.


Color really makes his project work! Pine Hall Brick colors used in the project, include:
Edges are English Edge Dark Accent.
Walkway is English Edge Full Range and Pathway Full Range.
Chevrons in bicycle path are English Edge Autumn.
Bike path itself is English Edge Georgian Buff.

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The rich tones of the clay pavers complement the historic architecture surrounding the mall and contributes to the collegiate atmosphere as it weaves past old-growth trees. The craftsmanship expressed in the project has led to a campus icon that reinforces the school’s brand.

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The usefulness of the pavers extended well beyond aesthetics. The pavers proved themselves durable enough to withstand both 80,000 pound emergency vehicles and event traffic. And the system is at once both authentic and green in the following ways:

·       It’s a locally sourced material, which reduces fuel consumption for product delivery.

·       It encourages pedestrian and bicycle transportation, which reduces dependence on automobiles on campus.

·       It supports a sustainable stormwater management system that directs runoff to landscape areas planted with native and adapted species.

And tomorrow? More is on the way, as the Founders Walk project is the first step in a planned network that will link all campus neighborhoods.


Clay pavers create walkways to success at High Point University

March 25, 2016

Spring is blooming in central North Carolina, on city street, country road and college campus alike.

HPU EHigh Point University isn’t far from the Pine Hall Brick Company corporate headquarters in Winston-Salem. As this semester winds down and as graduation plans blossom, this place is awash in purple blooms everywhere you look.

HPU FHere, students walk to class amidst red brick buildings that were designed with Georgian architecture influences. There are wide paths and plazas made of clay pavers in colors and textures that complement the buildings. There are 24 separate gardens and an arboretum. The campus is home to 2,500 different kinds of plants and 350 separate kinds of trees.

Others have taken notice: High Point University was recently named as a Tree Campus USA for the seventh consecutive year, one of eight four-year colleges and universities in North Carolina to earn this honor.

Now consider this. Much of this is new. More is on the way. And all of it is intentional.

“Visitors to HPU often remark that campus feels entrepreneurial or innovative,” says Dr. Nido Qubein, president of High Point University. “There’s no doubt that the campus spirit is energetic, engaging and poised to ignite purposeful action. The inspiring environment at HPU is designed, at its core, to encourage students to connect, create and collaborate.”

High Point University’s campus – its gardens, its landscapes, its classroom buildings and its operations—reflects a philosophy and a design that is intentional and proactive at the same time.

The idea? Success has a lot to do with your surroundings and High Point University takes an active role in the success of its students.

“People rise to the level of the environment in which they live,” says Qubein. “Whether students are in class, in their residence hall, on the Kester International Promenade that’s lined with inspirational quotes and sculptures of historical figures, or in one of the library learning common spaces throughout campus, students are consistently surrounded by excellence. They are engaged in every aspect of campus life.”

Much of the environment where students at High Point University live, work and play is made up of new plazas, walkways and buildings, all made of native North Carolina clay, as solid and as durable as the values inherent in the educational process that takes place there.

Recent growth

The college began in the 1920s. By 2005, the university was centered on a 92-acre landlocked campus with a total undergraduate enrollment of 1,450, an operating budget of $38 million and 108 faculty members. Things have changed. Since then:

  • Campus size has increased 346 percent, from 92 acres to 410 acres, with building space increasing by 441 percent, from 740,000 to 4 million square feet.
  • Traditional student enrollment is up by 203 percent, from 1,450 to 4,400, while fulltime faculty has increased by 156 percent, from 108 to 277.
  • The budget has increased by 663 percent, from $38 million to $290 million.

Intentional and proactive

Steve Potter, who is vice president for facilities and auxiliary operations, says that two projects – the Promenade and the Student Success Building – are both examples of efforts to directly address the idea of encouraging success through landscaping and hardscaping design.

The Promenade was originally a High Point city street, Montlieu Avenue. In its original incarnation, four sidewalks ran the length of it, an airport runway of sorts to academic buildings.

“We redesigned the whole space so that it wasn’t so linear and it created a park atmosphere,” says Potter. “We kept two linear elements going down it. We really wanted to beautify the space using clay pavers instead of concrete.”

The clay pavers specified were English Edge Full Range and the buildings were built of HPU Blend, a custom color. Both were made by Pine Hall Brick Company.

“It’s more of a cleaner look than you have with concrete,” says Potter. “It is richer, a more sophisticated look. It’s a traditional color but we have been using different fields for different seating areas which is something we haven’t done in the past.”

Upcoming will be new facilities for health sciences, which will house new graduate programs for physician assistants and pharmacists. Like the rest of the campus, the buildings are planned with Georgian architecture in mind and will be built of HPU Blend red brick, with clay paver pathways of the same material.

“We are looking to create an inspiring environment for our students,” says Potter. “It’s not just about the brick and the landscaping and the arboretum, it is about pulling all of that together. We want them to strive for the best and so that’s why we put in the best. We want to use authentic products, to be the best in everything we do and we feel like these are the best products for the results we want.”


Historic brick maker’s home is now a hotel

February 19, 2016

PHB - Bunn House Corner

For Ridgely Dubel, the red-brick Colonial Revival house that she and her husband spotted in their neighborhood in Asheville, NC  was love at first sight.

As long-time fans of all things made of North Carolina clay brick, we can certainly see what she means.

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The Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times reported recently that the couple bought the century-old house and decided to share it. It was turned it into a boutique hotel. Inside, exposed brick walls and polished wood floors are the backdrop to a relaxing stay. Outside,walkways and a large brick patio made of Pine Hall Brick Company pavers picks up the accent colors and textures from the house itself. Tables and chairs surround a large wood-burning fireplace made of stone – a gathering place fit for a chilly evening in western North Carolina.

PHB - Bunn House 1

As interesting as the Bunn House is these days, the way it began is interesting in and of itself. Albert Bunn, who with his wife and three children immigrated from England,  was a brick maker. Bunn not only built the house in 1905, he made the bricks from which the house was built.

PHB - Bunn House Fullview

And as brick makers ourselves, we are proud and honored to add our modern-day clay pavers to Mr. Bunn’s efforts from so long ago.

That’s because our bricks will still be there in 100 years, the same way his are.

Read more about the Bunn House here.

StormPave used in Cleveland riverfront renovation

January 22, 2016

PHB - Flats 4

Cleveland has been called the Comeback City for good reason.

These days, the town is becoming known more for such things as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Cleveland Clinic and a municipal vision that sees economic development of the inner city and improvement of local education as priorities. Even local legend LeBron James is now back with the Cavaliers.

Now take a look at the latest Cleveland comeback: the Flats East Bank development.

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The Flats, an expansive warehouse district on the Cuyahoga riverfront, is now the site of $750 million in development, including an 18-story office tower, a hotel, a fitness club and local restaurants. In fall 2015, Phase II opened with a 241-unit high-end apartment building, restaurants, entertainment venues and an extensive boardwalk along the river.

Jeremy Hinte, RLA, designer of the Cleveland-based landscape architecture firm Behnke Associates, says that StormPave® permeable clay pavers from Pine Hall Brick Company were chosen to address stormwater management requirements within the Phase II part of the Flats East Bank project.

Many cities–large and small–are requiring new commercial developments to treat their stormwater on site, rather than tying into overtaxed storm drains or, as in the case of Cleveland and Chicago, allowing stormwater to discharge pollutants into a nearby river.

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StormPave® pavers have nibs to create space in between the pavers. In a best-practices installation, rainwater enters the voids and is collected in layers of aggregate underneath. From there, it is absorbed into the ground, where it is naturally filtered.

StormPave® came with one additional benefit: It was a good fit for the neighborhood.

“As the proposed development is intending to emulate the historic character of this District, the design team and owner determined the best aesthetic solution to achieving this is through the use of clay pavers,” said Hinte.

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The improvement in that neighborhood effectively continues the work begun by commercial real estate developer and philanthropist Bert L. Wolstein, who with his wife and—Iris and Scott—worked for more than 25 years to transform the Flats East Bank area.

Although Wolstein, who died in May 2004, donated more than $40 million to local hospitals, colleges and other institutions along the way, his family says the Flats East Bank project was both a labor of love and a source of great joy.

“I know Bert is smiling on us now,” Iris Wolstein has been quoted as saying. “Maybe now, Cleveland will be known as The Legend on the Lake.”


Our hometown, like brick, stands the test of time

December 18, 2015

PHB - House with Red Mortar
Since 1922, Pine Hall Brick Company has made the products that have made possible the homes, workplaces, universities, hospitals—and plazas, patios and walkways —where generations have lived, worked and played.

PHB - StormPave Closeup BandStormPave® water permeable clay pavers.

We started out in Pine Hall, NC (thus the name) and moved operations to nearby Madison, NC. In recent years, we’ve expanded to Fairmount, GA, a suburb of Atlanta. But when our friends ask us: “Where are you from?” we don’t tell them Pine Hall, or Madison or Fairmount. We tell them that we’re from Winston-Salem, NC, which is where we have been headquartered all this time.

PHB - StormPave HouseDriveway

PHB-Durham 1Streetscape in Durham, NC.

Like our company and our products, our hometown has stood the test of time, from its founding as a Moravian settlement, through tobacco and textile manufacturing and to its present day focus on medical research, academics  and the arts. We’ve been proud to have been a part of the growth in Winston-Salem and beyond.
And we were happier, still, for our product to be the subject of a feature in our hometown newspaper, the Winston-Salem Journal.

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