Orange County

Should Chapel Hill relocate metal ‘Exhale’ sculpture from 140 W. Franklin Street plaza?

The Town of Chapel Hill is deciding whether the “Exhale” sculpture on the 140 West Plaza should remain on Franklin Street.
The Town of Chapel Hill is deciding whether the “Exhale” sculpture on the 140 West Plaza should remain on Franklin Street. Courtesy the Town of Chapel Hill

The Town of Chapel Hill will hold a community focus group Tuesday night to help decide on the possible relocation of the metal sculpture “Exhale” from the plaza at 140 West in downtown.

The public input event will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. in Room A of the Chapel Hill Public Library (100 Library Drive, Chapel Hill, NC).

Town leaders last year asked staff to explore ideas for making the 140 West Plaza more of a community gathering and events spot and to collect input about the idea of relocating the Exhale sculpture. This focus group is one of several stakeholder input sessions.

At a meeting last December landscape architest Ned Crankshaw noted the 140 West plaza, with its hard stone benches, and sidewalk also could be better.

“Life doesn’t come from people just moving back and forth. You have to have places for people to ‘park,’ so sidewalk cafes, or creating buildings that aren’t completely flat facades, that have some indentations so that you have more opportunity for sitting spaces for people,” he said.

The town, Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership and a UNC graduate student added temporary chairs, benches and tables, umbrellas, plants, banners and signs to the plaza, surveying people about how they used the space. While more people lingered there, they found most still were passing through.

The most engaging feature was the “Exhale” sculpture by Mikyoung Kim, they found, although some people thought it should be removed.

Tuesday’s session is expected to last one hour. The session is divided into four short guided activities. After stakeholder meetings in September and October, town staff members are expected to report back to the Town Council in November.

For more information, contact Town Ombuds Beth Vazquez at 919-265-0806 or bvazquez@townofchapelhill.org

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