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Government Center

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1970–1972, with additions. Bounded by 8th, 9th, King, and Walnut sts.

A goal of urban renewal planners and the Greater Wilmington Development Council was to disperse civic activities away from congested Rodney Square (WL29). The present Government Center, consisting of several buildings planned in concert, owes its origins to a plan by architect W. Ellis Preston, published in October 1961, that showed a similar complex to the one eventually built, except that the entire block between King and Market and 7th and 8th streets was to have been razed for a public information building (to be a copy of Delaware's expected pavilion at the New York World's Fair of 1964). Not long after, the local AIA sponsored “Concepts for the Decades Ahead,” a collaborative project in which Samuel Homsey and the firm of Whiteside and Carbonell were active. The report (November 1963) called for wholesale redevelopment of downtown into a series of four “centers,” including this Government Center. Two years later, the planning firm of Wallace, McHarg, Roberts and Todd put forward “a total design concept” closely following the earlier “Concepts” proposal. It emphasized the needs of pedestrians and, at the same time, “addresse[d] itself boldly to the major complaint of most Wilmingtonians—PARKING.” The first buildings of the complex, on King Street, were finished by 1972 and soon followed by others, including the Wilmington City-County Building (1975–1977, Whiteside, Moeckel and Carbonell, with Vincent G. Kling and Partners). Why is the center so bland and beige? This was a deliberate effort to humanize the architecture and escape “the travesty of glass block buildings.” The empty plaza was supposed to be enlivened with a shopping complex, but this never happened. Some works of public sculpture were scattered about, including one by Richard Stankiewicz (1980) and three by local son Charles C. Parks. Recent changes include the reconstruction of Carvel Plaza by Breckstone Group and the interior renovation of twelve-story Carvel State Office Building by Buck Simpers Architect + Associates.

Writing Credits

Author: 
W. Barksdale Maynard
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Citation

W. Barksdale Maynard, "Government Center", [Wilmington, Delaware], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/DE-01-WL25.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Delaware

Buildings of Delaware, W. Barksdale Maynard. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008, 101-102.

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