U.S. coastal cities tend to be dynamic places — an ever-evolving interface between the land and the ocean, as well as an interface between the nation and the world. In a similar way, the architecture of coastal cities tends to represent a complicated dynamic, where each city's historic character engages in a complex relationship with its future promise.
Charleston, South Carolina, is no exception. Residents of historic Charleston love the old city's traditional fabric, while designers and developers look to create the next chapter in the city's life. This year, the proponents of preservation won out in a faceoff with Clemson University planners: in a surprise move, Clemson pulled its proposal for a modern architecture center at the corner of Meeting Street and George Street in the old city, after neighborhood and preservation groups sued to block the project. The Post and Courier covers the story here (see: "Clemson scraps its modern building plan," by Robert Behre).
The move marks the end of Clemson's second attempt to create a new building for its architecture school in the same neighborhood. An earlier design by Boston architectural firm Kennedy and Violich was scrapped in 2007 in the face of opposition from neighbors. Architect Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture, the designer of the second effort, was disappointed by Clemson's decision, telling the Post and Courier, "I love that city. I put my heart and soul into that project. It means a great deal to me."
In the wake of the controversy, Charleston has hired nationally known architect and "New Urbanism" advocate Andres Duany to study the way Charleston reviews new architecture in the city, the Post and Courier reports (see: "Charleston hires Andres Duany to review city's architectural approach," by Robert Behre).
"Charleston was the nation's first city in the nation to adopt a zoning law with a historic preservation component when it first created the Board of Architectural Review in the early 1930s," the paper notes. Now, the paper says, "Duany, whose reputation was cemented by the development of the successful, neotraditional Seaside community on the Florida panhandle, will spend six months studying how Charleston's Board of Architectural Review approves new designs downtown."