NC Landscape Architect Dick Bell Publishes First Book

The Bridge Builders explores the evolution of a master designer.

January 3, 2011 (ATLANTIC BEACH, NC) – From growing up on North Carolina’s Outer Banks during the Great Depression and World War II, to watching as his immigrant father designed and built the first “Lost Colony” amphitheater, to a series of adventures that began when he won the coveted Prix de Rome in 1951, landscape architect Richard C. “Dick” Bell explores his evolution as a designer in his first book, The Bridge Builders.

Dick Bell is the Southern landscape architect who created such seminal landmarks as the North Carolina State University “Brickyard,” the City of Raleigh’s beloved Pullen Park, and the Meredith College Amphitheater in Raleigh, among 2000 other projects he has completed in his long career – projects that left a profound imprint on his profession and his state. Through The Bridge Builders, he explores the people, places, and educational experiences that made him the man and the designer he came to be.

Published by Vantage Press, The Bridge Builders begins with his paternal grandparents’ immigration from England to Canada in the early years of the 20th century, before his father hastened their relocation to North Carolina. As a young boy in the sea and sand of Manteo, NC, and as a son and grandson of avid gardeners, Bell developed an intense love of nature and conservation that would define his illustrious career. As the youngest recipient of the Prix de Rome, his travel abroad would forever influence how he designed outdoor spaces for human enjoyment.

The book concludes just as Bell is starting what would become one of his master works and a living laboratory for landscape architecture, the former Water Garden in Raleigh – the “Taliesin” of North Carolina.

Midwest Book Review says: “The Bridge Builders is a memoir from Richard Bell as he reflects on being an American who came to love art and architecture in Europe and did well in helping establish important work that earned him a place as town hero in Raleigh. The Bridge Builders is intriguing and thoughtful for those looking for a read that bridges art and architecture.”

The book includes a collection of photos from Bell’s life and travels along with original sketches and watercolors he made during his years at the American Academy in Rome.
Bell is planning to publish another book or white paper in the future that will include case studies of his major projects.

Click HERE to learn more about The Bridge Builders.

The order a copy of the book ($16.95), call by phone 24-hours a day: 877-736-5403, option 5; or fax an order to 212-736-2273.

Dick Bell in Pullen Park © f8 Photo Studios

About the author:

A multi-award-winning landscape architect, Richard C. Bell was educated at the North Carolina State University School of Design (now College of Design), graduating in 1950 as part of Dean Henry Kamphoefner’s first class. He apprenticed under Simonds & Simonds of Pittsburgh, PA, and Frederick B. Stresau of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He received the Prix de Rome at age 21, which allowed him to travel and study in Europe for two years. He founded his first firm in Raleigh, NC, in 1955, introducing the practice of landscape architecture as a registered profession to the state. (He was the first person elected to the registration board.) He has been a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects since 1954 and was elected to Fellowship in 1980. He is also a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome. He was the first recipient of the ASLA NC’s Award for Distinguished Professional Achievement and inducted into the Raleigh Hall of Fame in 2008. He now lives in Atlantic Beach, NC, where he continues to work on select projects.

NC Landscape Architect’s Work Featured In National Press

Dick Bell photographed in Pullen Park, one of the many landmark projects he created in Raleigh. (photo by f8 Photo Studios)

Dick Bell, FASLA, is back in the news


November 8, 20101 (ATLANTIC BEACH, NC) – Master landscape architect Richard C. “Dick” Bell, FASLA, was honored recently to have one of his favorite projects included in Landscape Architect magazine’s Centennial Issue and to have his career praised in Architects + Artisans, an online magazine dedicated to “thoughtful design for a sustainable world.”


A resident of Atlantic Beach, NC, now, Bell was in Raleigh visiting his daughter recently when he picked up a copy of Landscape Architect’s October edition and discovered his drawing for the NC State University Student Plaza, also known as “The Brickyard,” in the section on Design. Landscape Architecture is the official publication of the American Society of Landscape Architects.


“I had no idea,” he said. “I was truly surprised and honored.”


The Design section spotlights landscape architecture projects that embraced modernist design, rather than European-inspired formalism or classicism. Three blocks long and one block wide, The Brickyard’s flowing, curvilinear design exemplifies the modern aesthetic in landscape architecture and has become an iconic gathering place for NC State students, faculty and visitors since it was competed in 1970.


Concurrent with the appearance of his design in Landscape Architecture, Architects + posted an article entitled “A Life In Landscape Architecture” on October 26.

"The Brickyard" at NC State University


“New Yorkers may claim Frederick Law Olmsted as their own, and Virginians might cling to the gardens that Charles Gillette once molded and shaped, but North Carolinians today can embrace their own living icon of the landscape architecture profession,” wrote A+A editor Mike Welton with staff writer Cheryl Wilder about Bell and his career, which began in the 1950s and continues today.


In the A+A article, Bell names The Brickyard as one of his favorite projects among over 2000 projects he has completed. A+A also notes:


“When [Bell] was inducted into the 2008 Raleigh Hall of Fame, the non-profit group noted that he’s driven by a single professional mission: ‘To leave a little beauty behind wherever I go.’ Over a long and successful career, that’s the very least he’s achieved.”


Architects + Artisans is located at

The Meredith College Amphitheater


For more information on Dick Bell, visit and


About Dick Bell:


A native of Manteo, NC, award-winning landscape architect Richard C. Bell is a fellow of both the American Society of Landscape Architecture and the American Academy in Rome. He was educated at the North Carolina State University School of Design, graduating as a member of its School’s first graduating class in 1950. He apprenticed under Simonds & Simonds of Pittsburgh, PA, and Frederick B. Stresau of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. At the age of 21, he was the youngest designer to receive the Prix de Rome. He founded his first firm in Raleigh, NC, in 1955, introducing the practice of landscape architecture as a registered profession to the state and was the first person elected to the registration board. He has completed over 2000 landscape architecture projects ranging from major city and highway corridors to city parks, university plazas and amphitheatres, mixed-use beachfront developments, and individual residences. A recognized leader in environmentalism and sustainable design long before the words became part of the general lexicon, he was inducted in the Raleigh Hall of Fame in 2008 and continues his practice in Atlantic Beach, NC.

NC Landscape Architect To Address Pittsburgh Symposium

Dick Bell in Pullen Park, a city park he designed for Raleigh in the 1960s. © f8 Photo Studios

October 26, 2009 (ATLANTIC BEACH, NC) – Master landscape architect Richard C. “Dick” Bell of Atlantic Beach, NC, will address a special symposium on the work and influence of pioneering landscape architect John O. Simonds, to be held in the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, PA, on November 6.


Bell, a multi-award-winning practitioner whose own work includes landmark projects throughout North Carolina, apprenticed under John Simonds in the 1950s before Bell establishing his first firm in Raleigh, NC.


“Simonds & Simonds Landscape Architects was one of the premier design firms in the nation at that time,” Bell said. “And as the senior man in the office, I was fortunate to get to design some of the projects for John. They were mostly residential designs for architects who practiced the new – at that time — Modern style.”


The syposium, entitled “The Hunter and the Philosopher: John O. Simonds,” will focus on Simonds’ work as an author, environmentalist and landscape architect. It will also emphasize Simonds’ influence on the City of Pittsburgh, the field of landscape architecture, and his pioneering environmental planning efforts. Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, Garden Design magazine, and the American Society of Landscape Architects are sponsors.


“I learned so much from John that I carried with me throughout my entire career,” said Bell, whose own career spans 50-plus years. “He was tough and he was a perfectionist. I’m honored to be a part of an event that honors John and his work.”


Bell discusses his time at Simonds & Simonds in his upcoming book The Bridge Builders, which traces the genesis of Bell’s life’s work. The book is due out in the spring of 2010.


For more information on Richard C. Bell, go to


For more information on the Pittsburgh symposium, go to


About Dick Bell


Richard C. Bell, a Fellow of both the American Society of Landscape Architects and the American Academy in Rome, was the youngest person ever to receive the Prix de Rome at age 21. Driven by a single, professional mission “to leave a little beauty behind wherever I go,” he earned a national reputation for excellence, and provided Raleigh, NC, with some of its most beloved landmarks, including the N.C. State University “Brickyard,” the serpentine wall at St. Mary’s College, Pullen Park, and the Meredith College lake and amphitheater. He also designed his 11-acre Water Garden complex, one of Raleigh’s first mixed-use developments and an early example of buildings coexisting in harmony with natural resources. Born and raised in Manteo, NC, Bell attended NCSU, where he studied landscape architecture and assisted with the master plan for the university. He and his wife, Mary Jo, lived and worked in Raleigh for 50 years before moving to Atlantic Beach, NC, where he continues his practice today. He was inducted in the Raleigh Hall of Fame in 2008.


NCCU Art Museum Receives Major Gift

September 3, 2008 (DURHAM, NC) — Mary Jo and Dick Bell of Atlantic Beach, NC, recently donated 14 significant works of art by the late A.B. Jackson to the North Carolina Central University Art Museum in Durham, NC.

The Jackson collection, part of the Bells’ personal art collection, is valued at $194,000, according to a professional appraisal by Joseph Rowand of Somerhill Gallery in Durham.

“The Bells’ gift is the largest gift in the history of the museum, and we are absolutely delighted” said the art museum’s director, Kenneth Rodgers. “It fills a void in our collection from the region, so we are ecstatic. And we will make it available on a number of occasions to benefit our students and many beyond. We hope the Triangle community will come to see it and appreciate it as much as we do.”

The Bells’ donation includes watercolors, pastels, charcoal and acrylic works by the renowned artist whose pieces hang in many museums, universities and other institutions. Former President Lyndon B. Johnson also owned Jackson’s work.

The son of an Irish mother and black father, Jackson earned two art degrees from Yale in the mid-1950s. He taught art for 10 years at Norfolk State before joining Old Dominion as a full professor and the school’s first black faculty member. He died in 1981 at the age of 55.

The Bells decided to donate their collection to NCCU’s Art Museum because director Rodgers expressed interest in a show of Jackson’s work in the past.

The breadth of the Bells’ donation was intentional. “We wanted to give the University a representative collection so that students could look at the work and understand what it took to be so adept in so many media,” Dick Bell said.

Mary Jo and Dick Bell have been avid collectors of North Carolina art since Mary Jo opened the former Garden Gallery in the Water Garden complex on Highway 70 in Raleigh in the Sixties. Determined to support and advocate North Carolina artists, their personal collection represents most of the state’s finest artists.

The Bells lived and worked at Water Garden from 1955 until last year. A master landscape architect, Dick Bell created Water Garden as Raleigh’s first mixed-use development. It included their residence, his offices, Garden Gallery and other leased office spaces, and represented Bell’s naturalistic approach to landscape architecture.

The Bells sold Water Garden last year and moved to their condominium in Atlantic Beach. With the gallery closed and their living environment downsized, they’ve looked for ways to share their extensive art collection. The NCCU donation is part of that effort.

“We’ve been fortunate to be able to collect so much art,” Dick Bell said. “Now we’re happy to disseminate it — to share the work of such great artists as A.B. Jackson.”

For more information on the NCCU Art Museum, go to