Your favorite outdoor places to work and meet at Carolina
Faculty and staff recommend top spots to connect with colleagues, eat lunch or escape the office bustle.
Occasional changes of scenery while working can boost productivity and mood.
Carolina’s beautiful campus and the University’s satellite offices offer many options for employees looking for a quiet lunch spot, outdoor group meeting space or place to take a short break. Some are well-known. Others are hidden gems.
Here’s a list compiled by The Well of some of your open-air retreats.
Sloane Art Library courtyard
“I love the new tables and chairs in our courtyard behind the Sloane Art Library. This space used to be out-of-the-way and underused. The tables and chairs have completely transformed it. It’s a great quiet spot for an outdoor work meeting or doing work that isn’t tied to my desk. Plus, it’s nicely shaded most of the day.” — Alice Whiteside, Sloane Art Library head, University Libraries
Richardson Memorial Garden
“One of my favorite spots is the circle of benches near the Steele Building that is entirely hidden by shrubbery. I bet 95% of the people who walk by it on Polk Place every day don’t know that it’s there.” — Geneva Collins, director of communications, College of Arts and Sciences
“The Coker Arboretum is one of my favorite places on campus to escape. Taking meetings or doing professional reading and offline work on a shady bench feels like a hideaway from the bustle of busy semesters! I especially like walking through the arbor on my way to and from my shady bench.” — Nancy Lovas, entrepreneurship & business librarian, University Libraries
“I like to walk to the beautiful Coker Arboretum on my lunch break. I’m often joined by April McKinley, program administrator at UNC Center for Civil Rights; Erika Richmond, post-doctoral research associate at UNC Center for Civil Rights; and Donna Nixon, resources librarian and clinical professor of law.” — Tyla Olson, faculty administrative support supervisor, UNC School of Law
FedEx Global Center rooftop garden
“The rooftop garden on the FedEx Global Education building is a great spot for a meeting or picnic lunch when the weather is good.” — Tom Kelley, James Dickson Phillips, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law and director of the UNC School of Law Institute for Innovation
North Carolina Botanical Garden
(100 Old Mason Farm Rd.)
“The North Carolina Botanical Garden offers so many wonderful opportunities to meet with colleagues outdoors in a variety of garden spaces. My favorite way to meet in the garden is to have a walking meeting, which provides a brief respite from my office and allows me and my guest to get some steps in and absorb the healing power of our natural surroundings. When sitting for a meeting, my most prized location is the Harriet Martin Party Porch adjacent to our auditorium. The porch offers rocking chairs, shade and beautiful vistas of the sunny education courtyard, filled with seasonal blooms, prolific pollinators and melodic birds. One end of the porch sits a story above the garden, giving the feel of a treehouse perch, at eye level with the birds in the forest of the Piedmont Nature Trails. Periodically, nature brings unexpected excitement. Just this week at a meeting on the porch, my guest and I heard the cacophony of a murder of crows off in the forest. Soon enough, we saw a beautiful hawk soaring through the courtyard, trailed by the chasing crows.” — Joanna Lekelacs, director of education at the North Carolina Botanical Garden
Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention courtyard
(1700 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.)
“Before transformation, this space was referred to as ‘the prison yard’ as it was drab, dank and neglected … but with lots of potential! We decided to reclaim it as an outdoor meeting space and partnered with Arts Everywhere to select a muralist to help liven it up. Many talented artists applied, but our favorite submission was by one of our Center’s research assistants, Isabel Lu. Her design has worked wonders in turning that courtyard into an inviting space for work, lunch or just stepping outside for a short break.” — Brett Sheppard, project manager at the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
Have a favorite campus spot to work or meet with colleagues? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we may include it in a future photo roundup. An earlier story in The Well includes a more comprehensive list of outdoor spaces.