Campus entrance improvement project includes dry stack stone walls, native plants

This artist rendering, courtesy of Sanders Pace Architecture, provides a general idea of how the redesigned entrance will look.

The redesigned main entrance to Western Carolina University is on track for completion in March 2020, the project leader says.

The improvements underway for the intersection of Centennial Drive and N.C. Highway 107 will enhance appearance with new signage and landscaping, increase pedestrian and vehicular safety with better routing and visibility, and provide campus with an aesthetic landmark.

“Construction of this type project is weather-dependent, but everything is currently on track, even with the recent rain storms,” said Daniel Fiskeaux, project manager for WCU’s Department of Facilities Management. “Considering all that is going into the project, we expect to achieve a clearly defined main entrance for WCU.”

Construction is resulting in temporary lane closures.

The project was first announced in June 2018 when the WCU Board of Trustees unanimously endorsed a design for front entrance signage. Until this project is completed, there is no permanent signage at the front entrance to campus, other than Department of Transportation directional signs and historical markers.

Plans call for the installation of two dry stack stone walls, about 5 feet in height, and one emblazoned with “Western Carolina University” in bronze letters. Medians and road edges will be planted with native flowers, grasses and perennials, including purple love grass, to help show off WCU colors.

A legacy maple near the entrance will be protected with decorative rock wall containment.

“Both sides along Highway 107 will have additional soil installed and compacted to allow for the stacked rock wall installation,” Fiskeaux said. “On both sides of the entrance and exit lanes there will be installation of drainage that lead to river rock dissipaters to assist with water runoff. The scope of this project includes various native trees, shrubs and grasses to be planted alongside the entrance into campus, as well as in the traffic divider.”

Temporary lane closures for construction will occur through the end of the year, though closures are being scheduled not to interfere with campus activities and anticipated times of high-traffic volume.

The contractor for the construction is B.H. Graning Landscapes of Sylva. The architectural firm for design is Sanders Pace Architecture of Knoxville, Tennessee.