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.