Clemson plans architecture site in downtown Charleston

Charleston Post and Courier
Robert Behre
February 20, 2012

Five years after it abandoned plans to build a new architecture center on one George Street site, Clemson University is moving ahead with plans for a new $10 million center at a nearby site.

The school announced Friday that it has selected Allied Works Architecture of Portland and e.e. fava architects, etc. of Charleston to design a new three-story building at George and Meeting streets.

Richard Goodstein, dean of Clemson’s College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities, said the firms were chosen “because of their deep experience in urban design, their commitment to sustainability and their demonstrated sensitivity to place and context.”

Clemson had tried to build a permanent home for its Charleston architecture and preservation programs on George Street, but public opposition prompted the school to back off.

Instead, that site became a surface parking lot, and Clemson used its remaining project budget to buy the 292 Meeting St. property. That site includes a single house that will be preserved and a one-story brick office expected to be razed for a new 31,000-square-foot center.

Allied Works Architecture is a 40-person firm led by Brad Cloepfil and works from Portland and New York. Charleston architect Eddie Fava founded his firm in 1993, and has served on the city’s Board of Architectural Review.

Cloepfil was one of four architects that took part in Clemson’s 2005 competition to design an architecture center on George Street.

Kennedy & Violich Architecture of Boston received that commission, but its proposed building was hotly opposed because of its modern design and its potential impact on nearby homes.

Clemson announced Friday that its new facility will be named after the late Countess Alicia Spaulding Paolozzi, whose foundation made a lead gift. The center is expected to serve about 100 students a semester.

Clemson President James F. Barker, an architect himself, said the new building will allow the school to expand its Clemson Architecture Center and its graduate program in historic preservation that it offers jointly with the College of Charleston.

“Just as we send our design students to study in Genoa and Barcelona, we are delighted to have them in Charleston, one of the world’s most beautiful and architecturally important cities,” Barker said. “We are working closely with the city and community to create an exciting learning environment which respects the rich cultural fabric of its place.”

Goodstein said Clemson looks forward to seeing the design for “a beautiful building that will celebrate and serve the academic life inside the new facility, as well as the community and commerce that surround it.”

The facility, expected to cost $10 million, will have classrooms, faculty offices, design studios and library facilities, as well as garden areas and rooms for exhibits, lectures and community meetings. It will be paid for through state institution bonds and private gifts.

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