Clemson wants local architecture programs under 1 roof

A rendering shows the formerly proposed Clemson Architecture Center in downtown Charleston. The school scrapped the contested project late last year.

Clemson University plans to lease space in downtown Charleston to house all of its locally based architecture and historic preservation programs until it decides on a permanent location.

The decision comes about eight months after the university scrubbed plans for a contemporary architecture center at George and Meeting streets. The proposed building’s sleek design sparked a lawsuit by neighborhoods and preservation groups.

Clemson’s Board of Trustees approved the plan to pursue a new temporary home Friday, according to a written statement. “To better meet existing needs, anticipate planned growth and ensure that students in Charleston work in labs, studios and workshops that reflect contemporary standards of professional practice, a larger, more functional facility is required,” Clemson said.

The Upstate university said it still needs to identify a suitable site and obtain the necessary state approvals.

Currently, the historic preservation master’s degree program, which Clemson administers with the College of Charleston, and the Clemson Architecture Center are spread over three locations.

The idea of bringing them together “has been our goal for several years,” said Richard Goodstein, dean of the university’s College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities.

“This facility will move us toward that goal by bringing all of our allied design programs in Charleston under one roof,” he said.

Clemson “will continue to investigate our options for a long-term facility solution in Charleston,” Goodstein added.

In November, the university scrapped plans to build a modern $10 million metal and glass building for its architecture programs —a building designed by nationally known architect Brad Cloepfil of the Oregon-based Allied Works Architecture.

His design won approval from Charleston’s Board of Architectural Review, but critics filed a lawsuit alleging the city panel improperly shifted its standards during the process.

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Clemson, while technically not a party in the lawsuit, chose not to pursue the project — the second time in a decade that it backed off plans for a modern architecture center in the city’s Historic District.

Clemson said Friday that its interim leased space “will be large enough to meet the immediate needs” of its existing students and faculty in Charleston. It also will have ample room to handle growth from a proposed new master’s degree and an expansion of the specialized health care design track, according to the university.

Robert H. Jones, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, said Clemson remains committed to keeping the architecture outpost in Charleston.

“We look forward to this next step in strengthening that relationship,” he said in a statement.

Robert Behre of The Post and Courier contributed to this report.