TransAmerica Square

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.


The  TransAmerica Square  features a stunning fresco, titled  Continuum  by Ben Long. It is located in the dome of a rotunda, which is part of an open-air public archway from Tryon Street to the back courtyard. The fresco depicts “the cycle of life’s continuous disintegration and rebirth.”  Ben Long uses his family, colleagues, and friends as models for some of the faces in his frescos. Here he captured his wife and four sons.

The TransAmerica Square features a stunning fresco, titled Continuum by Ben Long. It is located in the dome of a rotunda, which is part of an open-air public archway from Tryon Street to the back courtyard. The fresco depicts “the cycle of life’s continuous disintegration and rebirth.”

Ben Long uses his family, colleagues, and friends as models for some of the faces in his frescos. Here he captured his wife and four sons.

The painter at the easel is a self-portrait of Ben Long himself.

The painter at the easel is a self-portrait of Ben Long himself.

Ben Long in his fresco seems to describe life’s ups and downs, successes and failures, good luck and misfortune as a continuous cycle of disintegration and rebirth. The group on the right appears to reach out to a rope tied to a tree connecting them to rebirth.

Ben Long in his fresco seems to describe life’s ups and downs, successes and failures, good luck and misfortune as a continuous cycle of disintegration and rebirth. The group on the right appears to reach out to a rope tied to a tree connecting them to rebirth.

Rebirth is portrayed as a peaceful and happy beach scene painted in bright colors with the famous  Cape Hatteras Lighthouse  appearing to guide the way to the beginning of this endless cycle.

Rebirth is portrayed as a peaceful and happy beach scene painted in bright colors with the famous Cape Hatteras Lighthouse appearing to guide the way to the beginning of this endless cycle.

The fresco was painted in March 1998 using ancient 15th-century techniques, which Ben Long acquired during his 9-year apprenticeship in Florence, Italy. It covers a surface area of 1,047 square feet (97 m²) and measures 30 feet (9 meters) in diameter with a circumference of 88 feet (27 meters).

The fresco was painted in March 1998 using ancient 15th-century techniques, which Ben Long acquired during his 9-year apprenticeship in Florence, Italy. It covers a surface area of 1,047 square feet (97 m²) and measures 30 feet (9 meters) in diameter with a circumference of 88 feet (27 meters).


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.

Ben Long also painted a spectacular ceiling fresco in the atrium of the Municipal Auditorium in Morganton NC.


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

 
 
 

Fresco Visits:

All day.


All year.


No admission.


Discovery Place Science Parking Deck.


The TransAmerica Square is accessible by wheelchair.