Cemented in controversy: Modern Clemson Architecture Center clears second approval

Cemented in controversy: Modern Clemson Architecture Center clears second approval

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Alien, a visual abomination and mediocre were just a few of the words used to describe the plans for the Clemson Architecture Center. The three-story structure of cement, metal and glass would replace the one-story brick building at the corner of Meeting and George Streets in the historic district.

"This is an opportunity to bring some beautiful architecture to a city and a small insert that I think will actually enhance it over time," says Amy Kay Papp, a downtown resident.

"I was disappointed, of course," explains architect and opponent Jenny Bevan. "It's a building that does not fit into the historic district. It's an anti-traditional building in a traditional city."

The Board of Architectural Review debated as well, aware that its decision could set a precedent for future architecture.

"I don't want this in my neighborhood. I find two things extremely offensive," says board member Bob DeMarco. "That aluminum grill and those eyebrows, one of which looks like a perpetual smile. The other one looks like a perpetual scowl."

"Although I totally understand your perspective, were left at the table when we voted this thing through at conceptual approval," says Jay White, another board member. "We can't go back."

The project's lead architect says he didn't take the criticism personally. He says he realizes it's a passionate issue for many people.

"I think there was a lot of reactionary conversation, but it's only because people want something to be beautiful," says lead architect Brad Cloepfil. "They want something to be special. So, I take that to heart."

The design has a final approval phase to overcome. The team says they will respond to comments, refine details and construct some large scale mock-ups before the final stage.

The projected cost of the new center is $15 million.