Clemson Design Center opens in downtown Charleston

Clemson Design Center opens in downtown Charleston
Source: Live 5 News/Jackson Helms
Source: Live 5 News/Jackson Helms

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Nearly two years after plans for a state-of-the-art Clemson building were scrapped for downtown Charleston, the school has officially opened its design center at the old Cigar Factory downtown.

A ribbon cutting ceremony is happening right now for the building that brings together the school's architecture and historic preservation programs under one roof.

The new center includes studio space, classrooms, seminar rooms and shop spaces.

The center will also feature state of the art labs where students will able to explore new methods to care for historic buildings.

School officials released the following information on the new center:

This fall semester, the new and the old finally are coming together as Clemson University's architecture and historic preservation programs in Charleston are united under one roof in a new space at the Cigar Factory on East Bay Street. The former cigar and textile manufacturing plant, built in 1881, is on the National Register of Historic Places. The programs in the newly renovated facility will be known as the Clemson Design Center.

Until recently, the two programs were housed in three separate locations. To better meet existing needs, anticipate planned growth and ensure that Clemson students in Charleston have all the resources they need, a larger, more functional facility was required.

"The consolidation of our design-based programs at the Cigar Factory is a significant step for Clemson University," said Richard E. Goodstein, dean of the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities. "Clemson's students in architecture and historic preservation have distinguished themselves for more than 25 years as innovative and service-oriented members of the Charleston community. We are excited to occupy this beautiful space in the Cigar Factory in one of America's great cities."

Clemson joins an already diverse group of tenants at the location, including Garden & Gun magazine, tech companies, high-end retail shops, restaurants and offices.

The new Clemson Design Center will include studio space, classrooms, seminar rooms, laboratories, library, multipurpose space, shop spaces, faculty and staff offices. The center will either immediately or eventually include an expansion of Clemson's undergraduate and graduate programs in architecture and landscape architecture, a graduate program in Architecture + Health, an expansion of the Center for Health Facilities Design and Testing (in conjunction with the Medical University of South Carolina) and a proposed new master's degree program in urban design.

"It's been a long road to get to this point, but it's been worth the wait because now we're in a space that's not only beautiful and befitting of these programs, but one that allows students and professors to be in the same place in a very open environment," said Ray Huff, director and associate professor of the Clemson Architecture Center in Charleston. "It's an environment that's designed to encourage interaction and engagement, both planned and by chance. Through that synergy we're going to be able to provide an invaluable service to students, as well as the Lowcountry."

"This new space and academic programs open new, exciting opportunities for us to explore how we think about the role and character of new buildings in old places and the responsibilities historic preservation has to insure that cities, towns and neighborhoods are sustainable and vital," said Carter L. Hudgins, program director for Clemson's historic preservation program. "The Cigar Factory, as good an example as we have in Charleston for how a building almost given up for dead can be made profitable again, is an ideal location to teach the historical meaning of old buildings and why they matter."

With an abundance of collaborative working space and natural light, the center will feature state-of-the-art architectural conservation and microscopy laboratories through which student teaching and research will be able to explore new methods to care for historic buildings.

The South Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, Trident Construction and McMillan Pazdan sponsored an official ribbon-cutting for the facility.

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