Updated: April 2019
Integrating Urban Design and Architecture
The building TransAmerica Square, which covers an entire city block along North Tryon Street, is considered a pioneering example in Charlotte, where urban design and architecture merged, creating a building with a sense of community by incorporating space for sidewalk cafés and art galleries as well as a large courtyard.
Constructed in 1992 based on designs from architect Harvey Gantt, who was Charlotte’s mayor from 1983 to 1987, the building also features a stunning fresco with the title Continuum painted by world-renowned fresco artist Ben Long.
Fresco “Continuum” by Ben Long
Accessing the building from 401 North Tryon Street and walking through the open-air public archway leading to the courtyard, the fresco is located in the dome of a rotunda and covers a surface area of 1,047 square feet (97 m²). The dome is 15 feet (4.5 meters) high and measures 30 feet (9 meters) in diameter with a circumference of 88 feet (27 meters).
According to Ben Long, the fresco “represents the cycle of life’s continuous disintegration and rebirth, thus reinforcing the notion that the more things change, the more they remain the same.”
The painter at the easel is a self-portrait of Ben Long. A group of four boys and a woman represents his wife and sons.
The fresco was painted in March 1998 using ancient 15th-century techniques, which Ben Long acquired during his 9-year apprenticeship with Maestro Pietro Annegoni in Florence, Italy. His apprenticeship culminated in 1976 when he received the prestigious Leonardo da Vinci International Art Award.
Other Works from Ben Long
Other frescos by Ben Long in Uptown Charlotte can be viewed in the lobby of the → Bank of America Corporate Center, in the → Historic First Presbyterian Church and the Law Enforcement Center at 601 East Trade Street.
Did You Know?
Fresco comes from the Italian word for fresh, referring to the process of painting on plaster, a technique and a medium Michelangelo (1475-1564) used to paint the ceiling of the famous Sistine Chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope, in Vatican City, Rome, Italy.
The plaster is a mix of lime and sand. The artist applies the mix onto the wall and then paints the area while it is still wet, which requires perfect timing and great skill as the pigments of the paint bond rapidly with the wet plaster.
401 North Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC 28202
Discovery Place Science Parking Deck.
The TransAmerica Square is accessible by wheelchair.