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Warren L. Burgess papers

Identifier: MS0451

Scope and Contents

The William Burgess urban planning papers comprise records related to Burgess's work for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission and as Town Planner for the town of Davidson, North Carolina. Materials include notebooks, sketchbooks, and a range of architectural drawings. In particular, the materials document the shifting urban environment of Charlotte as well as the negotiated public and design discourse that informed his work. There is also a small collection of photos of Warren's daughter, Ansley, in various sizes and poses.


  • Creation: circa 1980-2000


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Warren Burgess Papers are the physical property of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Copyright in the collection was transferred to the University at the time of donation (2013).

Biographical Note

Warren L. Burgess was born in Georgia, December 29, 1948, and died in Charlotte, North Carolina, May 10, 2005.

For 21 years, Warren L. Burgess worked as the Principal Urban Designer for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission, managing many large projects across the city. He deeply influenced the way places and spaces are designed, by emphasizing pedestrian-oriented site planning, and by creating Charlotte’s first urban-oriented zoning district. He also directed many urban design initiatives in the city, including the Third Ward Land Use and Urban Design Plan and Gateway Village, the Central Avenue streetscape plan, and the North Davidson area plan (NODA). In 2000, Burgess moved to Davidson where he served as the town's Planning Director for the next five years. Mr. Burgess planned for transportation efforts that would integrate pedestrians, cyclists, and automobiles in an effort to save the existing character of Davidson’s neighborhoods. In retirement, Mr. Burgess continued his work by taking a position with Neighboring Concepts, a Charlotte-based architecture and planning firm.

A tireless advocate of neighborhood planning and good urban design, Mr. Burgess was passionate about creating infrastructure that would connect people and celebrate the human spirit. People responded instinctively to his kindness, generosity, vision, and integrity. He understood that a city is defined by its people and, in this spirit, would talk to property owners on their own terms, in their own spaces, and on their own time schedules in order to better incorporate their ideas into his neighborhood designs. Mr. Burgess' dedication and unwillingness to buckle under political pressure allowed numerous neighborhood plans to be completed that emphasized neighborhood preservation and exceptional urban/landscape design instead of more standard designs.

In addition to completing numerous projects throughout his career, Mr. Burgess was also a well-regarded artist, whose renderings gave vision to his planning ideas and design concepts. He used his artistic talents to translate his visions for a neighborhood’s future into simple, understandable images, which proved invaluable for residents, colleagues, and elected officials. His passion for the planning profession, generosity with his time, and his desire to share his knowledge made him a gifted teacher, mentor, and an inspiration for many young and prospective planners.

Source: Carolina Planning, volume 32, number 2 (Spring 2007), 3-4.


7.5 Linear Feet (13 notebooks, 1 oversize box)

Language of Materials



The William Burgess papers comprise records related to Burgess's work for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission and as Town Planner for the town of Davidson, North Carolina. Materials include notebooks, sketchbooks, and a range of architectural drawings.


The collection is arranged into two series with several items that do not belong to any series. The two series are: Notebooks (spiral bound) and Paintings, printings and etchings.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Ansley Burgess, 2013.

Processing Information

Collection primarily unprocessed.



Burgess (Warren L.) Papers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Manuscript Collections, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Charlotte Repository

Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte NC 28223 United States

About this Site

Finding aids are guides to archival collections, including manuscripts, university records, and oral history collections. These guides help you find physical collections which can be viewed in the Dalton Reading Room on the 10th floor of Atkins Library. A small number of finding aids link to digital content online. Please contact us to learn more or to schedule an appointment:

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