With 2020 behind us (finally, right??), we are looking ahead to all that 2021 will hold for the City of High Point! Number one on our list of exciting happenings? The official opening of Congdon Yards! If you missed our last article about the new “third place” in High Point (or have somehow missed all the buzz around the construction downtown), you can get all caught up here. What you most need to know is that Congdon Yards is the collaboration between a few very integral folks here in High Point, including The Congdon Family, Business High Point, and the mastermind behind it all, David Congdon. With a lot of generosity from the Congdon family, hard work, and teamwork, this group that composes the Congdon Yards team is creating a new kind of home base for the City of High Point.
Congdon Yards also holds an extra special place in our heart – considering it’s our new home for our High Point Discovered office! But Congdon Yards isn’t just a place that a few select people will get to use. It’s a space mindfully and intentionally designed for the whole city to enjoy. We want you to fall in love with our new favorite spot in High Point just as much as we have. That’s why we sat down with the lead interior designer on the Congdon Yards project, Hillary Powers of Barbour Spangle Design, to hear all about the thought process that went into creating this cutting-edge space.
To start with, we talked to Hillary about the overall vision for the interior design behind Congdon Yards, specifically the open-to-the-public space, The Commons. The building is steeped in rich High Point history as the previous home of the Adams-Millis Hosiery Mill. But the vision for Congdon Yards is to bring innovation and cutting-edge technology to High Point. And not only does the space need to be innovative; it needs to be inviting.
“When the team behind Congdon Yards first engaged with us for the design for The Commons, they referred to it as High Point’s ‘living room,’” Hillary explains. “That spoke volumes to our team at Barbour Spangle about what they wanted it to feel like and how they wanted the community and visitors to use it.”
So how do you take an old building made of concrete and 16-foot high ceilings and make it feel modern yet cozy? Historical yet homey? Professional yet personal?
You write a new story for an old space. Meet the Design Narrative, a document crafted in partnership by Think Creative, Congdon Yard’s marketing extraordinaires and Barbour Spangle. The narrative casts the high-level vision for a design and tells the story of how the space will be developed and used.
“Bold vision to reclaim our past and reinvent our future.”
“A patchwork of High Point’s history.”
“Rooted in a proud past, reaching for a bold future.”
These are just a few of the phrases that guided Hillary and the team at Barbour Spangle. Words like “Bold,” “Revival,” “Woven,” “Collected,” and “Belonging” set the tone for them as they crafted solutions and designs to capture the many moving parts of how Congdon Yards would feel and be used.
And those solutions started right here in this very city.
“It was important to the team at Congdon Yards and to Barbour Spangle to highlight the craftsman here locally,” Hillary says. Every piece of furniture in The Commons comes from a local manufacturer. A wealth of local furnishing partners here in High Point, like Davis, Thayer Coggin, Darran, Phillips Collection, Culp Fabrics, Level4, OFS, JFA and Goldman made this vision possible.
Giving a particular nod to the textile mills that used to run in Congdon Yards, Hillary and her team leaned heavily on the inspiration of woven textiles in the fabrics and finishes chosen for the space. You can spot cable knit and herringbone textiles incorporated subtly throughout the space, paying homage to the woven history and innovative future of High Point’s design and textile industries.
But what about those massive ceilings and the concrete floors? How do you make those cozy?
“We wanted to celebrate the industrial bones,” Hillary says, “but that doesn’t mean it has to be all concrete floors and exposed ceilings.” Collaborating with Stabb Designs and Splashworks, two local High Point businesses, the Barbour Spangle team incorporated custom ceiling cogs to fill the space, absorbs sound, and remind visitors of the space’s factory roots.
Bringing in the softness to this space was not only a challenge because of its industrial bones, but also because of its public purpose.
Hillary explains the way we use “public” spaces varies widely. Too often, public spaces can feel distant, cold, or uncomfortable. These words were the farthest thing from what the Barbour Spangle and Congdon Yards teams wanted for this community space. Instead they wanted to create a space that brought elements of comfort, collaboration, fellowship, and a sense of belonging.
These elements were brought in through color palette, rugs, soft seating, and more. Other local furnishing partners like Zaki Rugs and Artistic Quilting used their wares to bring in elements of much needed comfort and warmth.
And all of these elements work together in harmony to create a space that the Congdon Yards team hopes is a place “for the public to gather, work, eat, and learn as a community.”
“We want to create synergy,” Hillary adds, “with all of the different industries plugging into the center hub of downtown.”
The Commons is designed for a variety of work modes – from cubbies for heads-down work to long tables for group collaboration, to lounge seating for side conversations.
“We want different people to all be able to use the space in ways that best suit them,” Hillary says. “When you pinpoint the function of the space, it informs the aesthetic.”
And while The Commons is just one function of Congdon Yards, the Barbour Spangle team in collaboration with architect Louis Cherry, made sure that the overall vision for Congdon Yards carries through the building – from the upstairs office suites to the outdoor courtyard (more on those spaces coming soon!)
“We wanted all areas of Congdon Yards to have the same language and flavor,” Hillary says, pointing back to the guiding Design Narrative.
We are counting down the days until you can join us in Congdon Yards to experience the beauty and innovation of this space. Because the collective brain and creative power behind Congdon Yards has cast a truly special and exciting vision for The Commons: “The Commons at Congdon Yards will be the destination for all.”
Discover our High Points,
The HPD Team
Photography by Maria West Photography