A corkscrew of a day!


The School of Architecture building proposed by Clemson for Charleston’s downtown historic district.

Got vile news today that the Board of Architectural Review in Charleston has approved Clemson’s design, by Brad Cloepfil, of Allied Works in Portland, Ore., for a modernist School of Architecture building in the middle of Charleston’s historic district. Remarkably stupid but, alas, not the least bit unexpected, given the confusion of the preservationists these days. (Here’s the Charleston City Paper story.) Then news came from Paris, courtesy of Mary Campbell Gallagher, that the SPPEF (a municipal tribunal) had revoked a construction permit for the famous department store La Samaritaine to erect a guazy screeny cliche, by the Pritzker-winning Japanese firm (in)SANAA – sorry, could not resist – on the store’s facade facing the beautiful Rue de Rivoli. (Its facade facing the Seine is intact.) As if my head were not already sufficiently a-spin, I then learned through TradArch comments on the BAR’s decision that it had approved the design for a traditional building in Charleston’s Courier Square by Robert A.M. Stern Architects. Good news, but how does it square with the same body’s Clemson decision? Both are in historic districts, right? Then I read that Charleston’s Mayor Riley, a hero who had long seemed to be a bulwark against preservation folly, supports the Clemson monstrosity. How the worm doth turn! What a corkscrew of a day!

The top image is of the Clemson proposal. The second and third images, below, are of the RAMSA proposal and the thankfully rejected proposal by La Samaritaine in Paris. In regard to the latter, you can tell from the architect’s rendering that to communicate a sense of what the final structure will look like is the last thing they want. I think someone ought to do a psychological study of the field of architectural illustration – although the RAMSA drawing suggests that there remain some outposts of sanity in that community of artists.

Design for a building on Charleston's Courier Square by RAMSA.

Design for a building on Charleston’s Courier Square by RAMSA.

The proposed facade of La Samaritaine, in Paris, facing the Rue Rivoli.

The proposed facade of La Samaritaine, in Paris, facing the Rue de Rivoli.

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy, dbrussat@gmail.com, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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1 Response to A corkscrew of a day!

  1. Pingback: Bad news from Paris | Architecture Here and There

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