Architecture Professor’s Plaza Design Wins Award

picture of Bleachery Heritage Plaza
Tuesday, October 10, 2023
Rachel Dickey’s “Bleachery Heritage Plaza” is in Rock Hill, S.C.

The “Bleachery Heritage Plaza,” designed by Associate Professor of Architecture Rachel Dickey and completed in 2022, has received the 2023 BLT Built Design Award for Cultural Heritage Landscape in the Landscape Architecture category. The annual international competition recognizes “the most pioneering and ground-breaking designs” in four broad categories: Architecture, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture, and Construction Product.

“From visionary architecture firms and interior design experts to groundbreaking construction products and landscape architecture projects, this awards program encompasses the entire spectrum of design and construction, shaping the world’s urban environments,” the organization stated in its press release.

The jury, a panel of 30 judges that included design professionals, media representatives, entrepreneurs, and academics, chose winning projects from more than 700 entries from 45 countries. The Bleachery Heritage Plaza was named a “Jury Top Pick,” which means that it was rated over 80/100 points by the jury members.

In 2020 Dickey won the commission from the Town of Rock Hill, South Carolina, to design a plaza in what is now called University Center, because of its proximity to Winthrop University. The Bleachery Heritage Plaza pays tribute to the Rock Hill Printing and Finishing Company, which opened in 1929 and was one of the largest cloth printing and finishing companies in the United States. Called The Bleachery, because bleaching cloth is the first stage in the printing process, the company employed almost 5,000 people at its height in the mid 1960s. It closed in the 1990s. Read more about the manufacturing history of Rock Hill and how that history is represented in Dickey’s design in this feature story.

full view of Bleachery Heritage Plaza

Throughout the design and fabrication process, Dickey hired architecture students as research assistants through her art and design practice, Studio Dickey. Over the course of two and half years, seven students – undergraduate and graduate – worked on the project.

Most recently, Dickey has been commissioned by Mecklenburg County, through the Arts & Science Council, to create artwork for the Irwin Creek Greenway in Charlotte. The public artwork is expected to be completed in 2024. Learn more here.