Friday, July 29, 2016

Latest attempts at modern architecture rebuffed in downtown Charleston

If contemporary architecture belongs anywhere downtown, where?

Posted by Sam Spence on Fri, Jul 29, 2016 at 2:16 PM

click to enlarge Check out that round entryway proposed for 663 King St. - BOARD OF ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW
  • Board of Architectural Review
  • Check out that round entryway proposed for 663 King St.
A wild-looking stacked, irregularly-shaped, and stark white building proposed for Upper King Street was among two modern buildings put off by the Board of Architectural Review this week.

The office building proposed for 663 King Street was called at once "incredibly interesting" and "amazing" by BAR members, according to the Post and Courier, while another said the word "chaos" came to mind. The proposed building features a tube-shaped entry which spills out onto the street corner, giving it a look unlike any on the peninsula. The board didn't outright reject the proposal though, instead BAR deferred it to be reworked by the architect and site owner. (See more renderings of the project around pg. 303 in this week's BAR packet.)

click to enlarge BOARD OF ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW
  • Board of Architectural Review
The site on Upper King, directly beside the I-26 ramp leading to the Crosstown Expressway and flanked by gravel lots and repurposed single houses (here's the Street View link), will make for an interesting study in whether a building that's such a radical departure from the rest of historic downtown can successfully navigate the city's preservation-minded planning process and win over local neighborhood groups. The most high-profile recent attempt to build a new, modern building downtown was the Clemson Architecture Center proposed for George and Meetings streets a few years ago. That building drew overwhelming criticism from neighborhood groups and was ultimately scrapped.

Richards Gregory, who owns the King Street site, told the P&C he's not discouraged by the deferral, and said that he and architect Neil Stevenson will "continue to try to create an incredible piece of architecture."

click to enlarge Rendering of proposed 145 E. Bay St. project - BOARD OF ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW
  • Board of Architectural Review
  • Rendering of proposed 145 E. Bay St. project
The Board also rejected a proposed retail/office building slated for a parking lot at 145 East Bay St. Though less-radical in its design, the four-story office building with full-length windows was rejected outright after city staffers and BAR members said it wasn't appropriate for the site. That section of East Bay Street features other surface lots and a poorly-shrouded parking garage, but it's also home to several more-pristine historical buildings. It sits just a few doors down from the Farmers' and Exchange Bank building and the Old Exchange, both of which are National Historic Landmarks. (See more of that project on pg. 404.)

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