For the past 25 years, students and faculty at the Clemson Architecture Center in Charleston (CAC.C) have been actively engaged in the intellectual and civic life of the City of Charleston. The community has come to know the work of these students in many ways — through design installations, such as the Mini Museum of Richard McMahan and Saltworks by Motoi Yamamoto; through the national award-winning study Global Climate Change, which developed design strategies for mitigating the effects of sea level rise; and through service projects, such as the conceptual study of the library re-design at the Medical University of South Carolina and the design and construction of a shading structure at Corrine Jones Park in the Wagner Terrace neighborhood.
From their first semester of study in the city up until this day, Clemson students have contributed their time and skills for the direct benefit of the community — often in ways that have far-reaching implications for economic development and quality of life.
More recently, Clemson University and the College of Charleston have offered collaboratively a Master of Science and a certificate degree in historic preservation. These programs attract graduate students interested in building national careers in the profession. Once again, service to the Lowcountry has been a hallmark of the program.
Architectural documentation drawings — produced for a wide range of clients and for which the students have won national awards in each of the past six years — include Fenwick Hall and Castle Pinckney in Charleston County and Pineville and Taveau Churches in Berkeley County. In addition, students, faculty and staff — in collaboration with the community — have assembled an important collection of architectural fragments.
The CAC.C currently is leasing space on Franklin Street. The historic preservation program has moved five times in the past 10 years. With the new Spaulding Paolozzi Center on the corner of Meeting and George streets, Clemson aspires to build a new home for these students of architecture and preservation, to bring them together for the first time in one beautifully designed, state-of-the-art facility that will inspire and enable them.
We want the new center to become an architectural landmark in the city of Charleston, an icon of thoughtful design and fine construction, a center for design innovation. And we hope the Spaulding Paolozzi Center will be a welcomed neighbor in the fine arts district, a place where the community regularly gathers in its lecture halls, exhibition spaces and gardens.
The new facility will accommodate approximately 100 students. It will feature a studio learning environment with open-span studio spaces, an architectural conservation laboratory, faculty offices, classroom spaces, seminar rooms, critique rooms, fabrication labs, and numerous mixed-use and gallery spaces that serve the larger public of Charleston, as well as the students, with gardens tied to the Spoleto building and gardens that tie our new building to the historic Stroebel House next door.
Our vision has always been to build a facility that not only reflects the best thinking in design and construction, but is also mindful of its place in the long continuum of Charleston architecture.
To say that the new Spaulding Paolozzi Center is a building of the present is, in part, to acknowledge that long history of fine architectural innovation and excellence in America’s most beautiful and historic city.
Since beginning the design process some 18 months ago, Clemson has been ever mindful of that vision. We are keenly aware that the building will speak not only for Clemson but also for Charleston in the decades to come.
I believe the Spaulding Paolozzi Center will stand the test of time, will age gracefully and will take its rightful place among the fine architecture in the city.
We acknowledge and thank the citizens of Charleston who have helped us thus far and have shared with us your concerns, as well as your vision.
Your fierce passion for Charleston, for getting things right and making them great, inspires and informs us, every step of the way.
James F. Barker, FAIA, is president of Clemson University.