“Vessel” and Gaillard Center

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Gaillard Center, in Charleston, S.C. (BDCNetwork.com)

Far distant on the spectrum of the architectural firmament from “The Vessel,” whose status as Jim Kunstler’s Eyesore of the Month I touted in a post, “Stairway to nowhere in N.Y.,” earlier today, is the new Gaillard Center, a concert hall in Charleston, S.C., designed by David Schwarz and completed last year. I just read about it in Nathaniel Walker’s essay in The Classicist, which I received today as a member of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art. And since the photograph was an interior shot, showing some of the Gullah-inspired embellishments in the auditorium, I decided to look up the exterior online. It is stunning. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen the sort of curved pedimental portico that is its main architectural feature. Surely there must be some precedent for this, maybe in Vienna. Either way, this is classical creativity on steroids. My congratulations to Schwarz and his people.

The ‘new’ Gaillard Center gets a standing ovation for its exterior cladding,” in Building Design + Construction, discusses the Thermocromex it used to simulate stucco cladding. It is described in the BD+C article this way:

A unique, ultra-high-performance limestone plaster cladding, Thermocromex is an advanced technical re-formulation that can be applied to virtually any substrate, including CMU, frame/sheathing, tilt wall, poured-in -place concrete and lightweight blocks/cement.

So I don’t really know exactly what it is, but the photos suggest that it is quite nice looking, and it is said to be maintenance-free for years – though I worry this means it will not age or weather up to par. I hope I am wrong.

But I’ve gone on about all of this because I noticed that the concert hall cost $142 million. Kunstler points out that Heatherwick’s “Vessel” in New York is already 100 percent over its $75 million budget. That means that Charleston got a concert hall for less than what New York is getting for a cockamamie thingamajig. Good grief! What does this mean? Doesn’t anyone notice?

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Sides of Gaillard Center, clad in Thermocromex. (BDCNetwork.com)

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 “Vessel” and Gaillard Center

  1. Arthur Mark says:

    Beautiful! About the stairway to nowhere: Where’s the elevator?




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