South Ellerbe Restoration Project

S. Ellerbe Restortation Project_Public Art locations Picture

Project Background

In collaboration with the City of Durham’s Public Works Department, the City of Durham’s Cultural and Public Art Program is seeking an artist or artist team with experience in projects centered around environmental design and functional, sculptural and integrated artwork to design and fabricate a series of public art installations at the new South Ellerbe Restoration project located at 808 West Trinity Avenue in Durham.

Throughout the community engagement sessions, the public’s ideas emphasized installing water- themed public art and interpretive information along the trails and providing hands-on educational opportunities for adults and children. Topics for educational themes included the water cycle, stormwater, flooding, natural restoration processes, native plants, and wildlife habitat.

Selected artist(s) will continue to gather and synthesize community feedback and suggestions to design a sculptural, functional artwork installation or incorporate public art that is integrated into the site that speaks to the importance of environmental sustainability in Durham. The selected artist(s) should be comfortable with fabricating and installing public artworks during the construction design process.

About South Ellerbe Water Restoration Project 
The South Ellerbe Restoration site will be transformed into a constructed wetland and stream restoration that will filter polluted stormwater from nearby neighborhoods and part of downtown. This restoration project will benefit both the community and the environment by increasing green space, improving water quality, and improving aquatic life in South Ellerbe Creek and Falls Lake. A cleaner Falls Lake will help support its uses for drinking water supply, fish and wildlife habitat, and recreation.

Stormwater & GIS Services has been working on watershed planning and restoration efforts in several major watersheds in the City. This project is in the Ellerbe Creek Watershed which drains to Falls Lake. The restoration will help the City meet the Falls Lake Nutrient Management Strategy Rules. The rules require nutrient reduction from both new building projects and from older parts of the city. Durham's Stormwater Performance Standards for Development govern new building projects. Part of the city was built before those rules were in place. This restoration offers a unique chance to filter rain runoff in an urban area.

Community Engagement

To reflect the community’s voice in the public art component, the selected Candidate will plan and facilitate inclusive and accessible community engagement activities to encourage public input and participation. The selected Candidates will be expected to lead, host, facilitate, and participate in community and staff engagement activities before finalizing their designs to gather feedback from residents living in the respective City Council Wards, especially Ward 1 where the South Ellerbe Restoration Project will be located.

The City of Durham may use virtual platforms that include SMS capabilities, geo-tagging, and surveys to assist the Candidates throughout the engagement process. 

City of Durham Plans and Resources
The selected Candidates are encouraged to review existing City plans to develop and shape the community’s involvement in the design and development of the public art project. The City of Durham Strategic Plan serves as a roadmap to make Durham a diverse, welcoming and innovative community, which highlights goals to foster cohesive, engaged and diverse communities where residents have equitable access to community resources, and the opportunity for a high quality of life. More information can be found here:

Background on the past community engagement activities and the community engagement scope of work is available in the RFQ document below.

Proposed Timeline

September 3 – October 7, 2021: RFQ promotion/informing
Thursday, October 7, 2021 at 11:59 PM EST: RFQ Deadline
Friday, October 8: Confirmation of RFQ Receipt via email from the City of Durham to Candidates
Monday, October 11 by 3:00 PM EST: By this date if an Candidate(s) does not receive confirmation receipt from the City, it is the responsibility of the Candidate(s) to contact the City to confirm submission.
October 22, 2021: City to notify Candidates of decision
Fall 2021: City and Candidates to enter into contract
Fall 2021 – Spring 2022: Design Development and Stakeholders engagement
Fall 2021 – Spring 2022: Final Designs shared with the Stakeholders
2022: Candidates submit Final Designs to City for final approval
2022/2023: Fabrications & Installation


The artwork installations will take place at the new South Ellerbe Water Restoration site, located at 808 West Trinity Avenue in Durham, NC. 

The public art will be installed at the South Ellerbe Restoration project site, with specific locations determined by the selected artist and City staff collaboratively. The image below identifies the potential locations for the public artworks, including (1) handrails and/or (2) locations for public art amenities like shaded structures, benches, and/or site-specific integrated ground plane amenities and educational elements. 

S. Ellerbe Restortation Project_Public Art locations

Potential locations above were gathered from two public surveys released in summer 2017 and April 2018  to gather input from residents about project goals, site amenities, and design elements for the overall project.

Request for Qualifications & RFQ Submission Process

The RFQ process is closed.

If you are interested in being a part of this project and contributing to the restoration and improvement of South Ellerbe, please submit requested all information and any questions to with “Public Art RFQ: South Ellerbe Restoration Project” in the subject line.

RFQ Deadline: Thursday, October 7, 2021 at 11:59 PM EST

Confirmation of Receipt: Friday, October 8 
Confirmation of RFQ Receipt will be shared via email from the City of Durham to Candidates

Candidates to Confirm: Monday, October 11 by 3:00 PM EST

By this date if a Candidate(s) does not receive confirmation receipt from the City, it is the responsibility of the Candidate(s) to contact the City to confirm submission of the RFQ.

Candidates who have already registered with the City of Durham’s Pre-Qualified Artists Registry must submit all requested RFQ materials as outlined above to be considered for the South Ellerbe Restoration Public Art Project.

For full details on the RFQ requirements and submission process, please read the RFQ document located here: RFQ Public Art

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From the pool of RFQ applicants, a panel of community members, nonprofit organizations, artists, and City staff reviewed the artists' applications and select the artist or artist team. 


For information about the public art project, please contact the Cultural & Public Art Program staff here:

Alexandra Benson
Cultural & Public Arts Program Assistant
Phone: 919-560-4197, ext. 21238

Rebecca Brown
Cultural & Public Arts Program Manager
Phone: 919-560-4197, ext. 21245