On 7 March 1968, the university officially dedicated the Brickyard at a ceremony at which Chancellor John Caldwell, former Chancellor Carey Bostian, Student Government Vice President Bob Shipley, and others spoke. At that time the space had no official name, and some initially called it "the Mall."
Almost from the very beginning students had called the open space a "brickyard." The official designation of "University Plaza" came later. In 1990 the university tried to mandate usage of the official name, but students resisted. When administration requested that the Technician, Agromeck, WKNC, and other Student Media outlets use the official name, " they flatly refused.
Richard Bell (Class of 1950), an early graduate of the College of Design, created the plans for the Brickyard, conceiving it as the heart of campus. His original design called for granite, but that was too expensive. Ultimately, Bell developed the red and white pattern in the bricks, reminiscent of Venice's Piazza San Marco. A substantial portion of the bricks were donated by the North Carolina Bricklayers' Association. Also in Bell's original design was a water feature with fountains, but that also was dropped because of cost.
The university's logo was not part of Bell's original design, but pranksters inserted it during construction in 1967. It has remained in one form or another ever since, although the current Block S pattern is of more recent construction.
For the past 50 years, the Brickyard has been THE student assembly spot. It has witnessed the 1970 protests, the 1983 NCAA basketball victory celebration, the 2017 solar eclipse, and the annual Ag Week and Shack-a-Thons.