The architect was in from Portland, Ore., officials were down from Clemson University and the room was packed full of Charleston residents, students and others curious to see if the city’s Board of Architectural Review would approve a bold, contemporary design for Clemson’s new architecture center at George and Meeting streets.
But there was a problem.
The seven-member board had so many members with ties either to Clemson or the project that it could not find four members — the minimum number for a quorum — to hear the case.
After about an hour of uncertainty, Chair Craig Bennett announced the Clemson Architecture Center would have to be heard another day.
“I know it’s disappointing,” he said.
Bennett was one who had to recuse himself because he teaches part-time in classes held by Clemson and the College of Charleston, who plan to share use of the building. Board member Sheila Wertimer and Janette Alexander also worked on the project and had to abstain from hearing it.
City officials thought they had found a solution by calling former board member and architect Whitney Powers to fill in as an alternate member, but they later learned that Powers already had penned an essay in favor of the Clemson project.
The center’s design, done by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture, features a curving, perforated concrete wall and a mixture of glass and metal screening along Meeting Street, modern expressions sure to ignite passions among those who want the city to hew more to tradition as well as among those who embrace the new.
The approximately 30,000-square-foot building, to be called the Spaulding Paolozzi Center, already had won the board’s blessing for its height, scale, massing and general architectural direction, but Wednesday’s hearing was set to focus on the architectural details and was considered its biggest hurdle in the approval process.
Bennett said developer and former BAR member Bill Wallace, who had served as an alternate before, was out of town Wednesday but will serve whenever the Clemson case is rescheduled.
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.