Victory in Charleston

Design withdrawn by Clemson for Charleston. (Post & Courier)

Design withdrawn by Clemson for Charleston. (Post & Courier)

On the heels of a major setback for modernism’s assault on Paris – its city council voted narrowly against it on Monday – comes an even bigger victory against a similar assault in Charleston, S.C., where Clemson University has withdrawn its application to build a modernist school of architecture right in the middle of the city’s historic district. Bravo, and bravo squared!

Counter design by Bevan & Liberatos. (Courtesy of B & L)

Counter design by Bevan & Liberatos. (Courtesy of B & L)

Will there now be a competition for the new building? Personally, I’d like to see them go straight to a counter-design proposed earlier this year by the Charleston firm of Bevan & Liberatos. (Imagine that, a local building designed by local architects!)

Clemson must be given credit for the grace of backing down in the face of public distress over its plan, even though they had been pushing one or another modernist design for years, and there was no reason to be sure the proposed abomination could not have been pushed through. Christopher Liberatos and Jenny Bevan, of the firm noted just above, deserve a good deal of the credit for generating opposition and giving it intelligent focus. The Post & Courier deserves credit as well for its comprehensive coverage and sensitive editorials on this issue.

Read “Clemson scraps its modern building plan” in the Post & Courier.

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,, 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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2 Responses to Victory in Charleston

  1. john norquist says:

    As modernist designs go, especially for architecture schools, this one wasn’t so terrible. Architecture schools usually are the most hideous buildings on campus; Penn University is a good example of the phenomena. The Clemson design was planned not for a campus, but for an historic neighborhood and thus was rightly judged inappropriate for Charleston, but many if not most universities would actually benefit from adding this particular design at this scale to their sterile compilations of steel and concrete.


    • John, I think you are being too kind to that building. (By the way, my dad grew up in Milwaukee and I visited it as a kid five or six times. Never did visit downtown. Had a family reunion in Wisconsin years ago and on the way back to O’Hare tried to get my mother and brothers to detour to downtown, but there was a huge thundercloud hanging over it and I was overruled!)


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