The Architecture of High Point

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April 10, 2011

I'm hard pressed to think of another city in the United States that's as oriented toward the furniture industry as High Point, North Carolina. From manufacturing to selling, furniture is the heart and soul of the city and region as a whole. And with 10 million square feet of showroom space, it's no wonder why. The High Point Market, which occurs twice yearly in the spring and fall, attracts and estimated 80,000 attendees. What was very interesting to me (a first-time visitor to the area) was High Point's architecture and urban fabric. The downtown area was nearly all showrooms, each with their own unique character. In my previous slideshow, I looked at the furniture on display during the Spring 2011 Market. Here, have a look at the buildings the furniture was displayed in and some of the other structural points of note.

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  Looks like your average downtown street, right? Nearly all of the buildings in the photograph are furniture showrooms, with the exception of the parking plaza. While the downtown is a bustling area during Market, it's all but deserted the rest of the year.  Photo by: Diana Budds
    Looks like your average downtown street, right? Nearly all of the buildings in the photograph are furniture showrooms, with the exception of the parking plaza. While the downtown is a bustling area during Market, it's all but deserted the rest of the year.

    Photo by: Diana Budds

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  The International Home Furnishings Center (IFHC) houses 3.5 million square feet of display area. Its twelve floors were a nearly unsolvable labyrinth of showrooms. The imposing windowless facade gives the building a totalitarian sensibility.  Photo by: Diana Budds
    The International Home Furnishings Center (IFHC) houses 3.5 million square feet of display area. Its twelve floors were a nearly unsolvable labyrinth of showrooms. The imposing windowless facade gives the building a totalitarian sensibility.

    Photo by: Diana Budds

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  Directly opposite IFHC is the curvilinear glass-faced Showplace Center, whose atrium is flooded with daylight. A reaction to the former? I think so.  Photo by: Diana Budds
    Directly opposite IFHC is the curvilinear glass-faced Showplace Center, whose atrium is flooded with daylight. A reaction to the former? I think so.

    Photo by: Diana Budds

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  In 2005 a transit terminal was constructed in front of IFHC and has is the hub of a remarkably efficient and well-coordinated shuttle service. The structure is reminiscent of Buckminster Fuller's Octet Truss.  Photo by: Diana Budds
    In 2005 a transit terminal was constructed in front of IFHC and has is the hub of a remarkably efficient and well-coordinated shuttle service. The structure is reminiscent of Buckminster Fuller's Octet Truss.

    Photo by: Diana Budds

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  The Natuzzi showroom was designed by Italian architect Mario Bellini in 19XX. The founder of Natuzzi is an avid sailor and Bellini translated that love for the nautical into this veritable ocean liner.  Photo by: Diana Budds
    The Natuzzi showroom was designed by Italian architect Mario Bellini in 19XX. The founder of Natuzzi is an avid sailor and Bellini translated that love for the nautical into this veritable ocean liner.

    Photo by: Diana Budds

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  The street-facing-facade is entirely glass and the opposite is essentially a gently-curved hull. Upon approach, you tread over gang-plank-like walkway that spans a moat. Yes. A moat.  Photo by: Diana Budds
    The street-facing-facade is entirely glass and the opposite is essentially a gently-curved hull. Upon approach, you tread over gang-plank-like walkway that spans a moat. Yes. A moat.

    Photo by: Diana Budds

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  Many of the contemporary showrooms were housed in the C&D Building, which boasts a silvery skin, and neighboring 220 Elm.  Photo by: Diana Budds
    Many of the contemporary showrooms were housed in the C&D Building, which boasts a silvery skin, and neighboring 220 Elm.

    Photo by: Diana Budds

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  One of the most interesting things architecturally is how old manufacturing infrastructure is repurposed for today's needs. The Market Square building was formerly a furniture mill dating from the 1920s. In 1984, it was converted into showrooms. Note the addition to the facade: it's contemporary, but not out of place.  Photo by: Diana Budds
    One of the most interesting things architecturally is how old manufacturing infrastructure is repurposed for today's needs. The Market Square building was formerly a furniture mill dating from the 1920s. In 1984, it was converted into showrooms. Note the addition to the facade: it's contemporary, but not out of place.

    Photo by: Diana Budds

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  The interior glistened of varnished and lacquered woods, tin ceilings, and brick walls. I loved that many of the floors creaked as I walked over them.  Photo by: Diana Budds
    The interior glistened of varnished and lacquered woods, tin ceilings, and brick walls. I loved that many of the floors creaked as I walked over them.

    Photo by: Diana Budds

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  Some of the old heavy duty machinery is still viewable from the glass corridors connecting various parts of the building. I really liked that you can get an impression of what it was like to be in a working factory, with remnants of the days when the structure churned out tables, chairs, and highboys.  Photo by: Diana Budds
    Some of the old heavy duty machinery is still viewable from the glass corridors connecting various parts of the building. I really liked that you can get an impression of what it was like to be in a working factory, with remnants of the days when the structure churned out tables, chairs, and highboys.

    Photo by: Diana Budds

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  The Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams showroom was once a toy factory and is another example of the adaptive reuse found throughout High Point.  Photo by: Diana Budds
    The Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams showroom was once a toy factory and is another example of the adaptive reuse found throughout High Point.

    Photo by: Diana Budds

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  The Halo showroom was once a firehouse.  Photo by: Diana Budds
    The Halo showroom was once a firehouse.

    Photo by: Diana Budds

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  Though this stretch looks like a normal main street, all of the storefronts are furniture showrooms. Not a restaurant, pub, or dry cleaner down the line. The building capped by a transmission tower is the aptly named "Radio Building." Nearly everyone I saw downtown was a furniture buyer. On my returning flight, my seatmate (a local of neighboring Greensboro) said that the area is essentially limited to the trade.  Photo by: Diana Budds
    Though this stretch looks like a normal main street, all of the storefronts are furniture showrooms. Not a restaurant, pub, or dry cleaner down the line. The building capped by a transmission tower is the aptly named "Radio Building." Nearly everyone I saw downtown was a furniture buyer. On my returning flight, my seatmate (a local of neighboring Greensboro) said that the area is essentially limited to the trade.

    Photo by: Diana Budds

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  The downtown post office is inside this lovely Deco building. There were so many different styles of architecture throughout the city, and every time I turned a corner something always stood out.  Photo by: Diana Budds
    The downtown post office is inside this lovely Deco building. There were so many different styles of architecture throughout the city, and every time I turned a corner something always stood out.

    Photo by: Diana Budds

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  And here's a church dating from the 1800s.  Photo by: Diana Budds
    And here's a church dating from the 1800s.

    Photo by: Diana Budds

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  Originally built in 1907, the train station was renovated in 2003. High Point received its name because it was the highest point of elevation along the railway line between Charlotte and Goldsboro.  Photo by: Diana Budds
    Originally built in 1907, the train station was renovated in 2003. High Point received its name because it was the highest point of elevation along the railway line between Charlotte and Goldsboro.

    Photo by: Diana Budds

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  The eaves are painted in mustard yellow.  Photo by: Diana Budds
    The eaves are painted in mustard yellow.

    Photo by: Diana Budds

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  And the famous "World's Largest Chest of Drawers" wraps up my tour of the downtown area.Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our  FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!   Photo by: Diana Budds
    And the famous "World's Largest Chest of Drawers" wraps up my tour of the downtown area.

    Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!

    Photo by: Diana Budds

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