Located approximately twelve miles west of downtown Raleigh, this university was founded in 1887 pursuant to the Morrill Act of 1862, which made federal land available for the purposes of establishing higher education facilities for the teaching of agriculture, mechanical arts, and military science. Originally serving fewer than 100 students in a single building, the institution has since grown to 2,100 acres encompassing the Central, North, South, and Centennial Campuses.
In 1919 architect Hobart Upjohn and landscape architect Warren Manning developed the first comprehensive master plan for the campus (now North Campus). Construction for Memorial Belltower at the campus’ Hillsborough Street entrance began in the 1920s, with stonework completed in 1937 through Works Progress Administration funding. In 1958 an updated plan called for expansion to a second, south campus, and designated a central pedestrian area, University Plaza, for connectivity between the two spaces. In 1963 Richard Bell’s newly formed firm, Richard C. Bell Associates, completed the master plan for the contiguous campuses. The firm implemented a new system for vehicular traffic and designed University Plaza as a paved open space bordered by lawn and trees, earning the nickname “The Brickyard” for its red and white brick paving (a nod to the university’s official colors). The unique mosaic paving pattern was born of necessity—Bell’s associate Hal McNealy created a design that used only whole bricks, eliminating the need (and associated costs) with brick cutting. Another significant phase of university expansion occurred in 1984 with the creation of Centennial Campus, which extended the original campus boundaries to the south and west and more than doubled its size.