Carrboro architect designs freedom monument

By Kafi Robinson
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

In the heart of Raleigh, residents anticipate the completion of one of the state’s most historical and highly revered monuments. Carrboro residents can proudly say that much of the project’s planning and preparation takes place in the center of their own town in a small mill house on East Carr Street.

robinson_freedommonument_afinal.jpg David Swanson, 52, is the owner of Swanson and Associates, an architect firm located on 100 East Carr St. Swanson is on the design team working on the Freedom Project in Raleigh, a monument honoring African Americans in North Carolina. Once this project is complete, Swanson says he wants everyone to “think about what freedom really means to them in this day and age.”
Staff photo by Kafi Robinson

David Swanson, a 52-year-old registered landscape architect from Chapel Hill, is the founder of Swanson and Associates, P.A. Even with more than 28 years of experience in this field, Swanson feels especially honored to be a part of the planning and designing of Raleigh’s Freedom Monument.

“This is a very unique project,” Swanson said, “and the collaboration between the artist and landscape architect makes this special and especially rewarding.”

The Freedom Monument will be a public art display honoring the African-American experience in North Carolina. Across from the Legislative Building, the Freedom Monument will be a contemporary interpretation of a freedom grove, a place where slaves would come to learn and converse with each other.

“This particular project is both specifically sited and suited for the location in Raleigh,” Swanson said.

The monument will be an open park-like space, displaying pieces of art, sculptures, statues and other commemorative works of art.

The goal of the Freedom Monument is to unite people of all backgrounds and help them appreciate freedom, something that many of their ancestors never had. Once this project is complete, Swanson wants everyone to “think about what freedom really means to them in this day and age.”

Even though Swanson works from an office in Carrboro, he finds his location very convenient, stating that most professional offices can work and relocate anywhere. “[I] just prefer the small scale of Carrboro,” says Swanson.

Originally from Beirut, Lebanon, Swanson has been a resident of Chapel Hill since 1965. In 1983, Swanson graduated from North Carolina State University’s department of landscape architecture in the College of Design and later taught in the same department. He has worked in North Carolina since 1984 as a registered landscape architect, establishing his firm in 1988.

Swanson previously worked as a town planner in several small North Carolina communities and actively participates in local planning efforts. His work emphasizes both historical and environmental preservation. Some of his projects include the stormwater pond and green for the North Carolina Museum of Art and the Visitor’s Education Center for the N.C. Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill.

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