Background and Resources

Learn more about the project and research process for the Modern Charleston architectural survey, plus find useful resources below.

 
 
 
 

Background

About Modern Charleston : An Architectural Survey
  • The goal of the Modern Charleston project was to survey new buildings built within the Charleston historic district from 2000 to 2015. For the most part, this means that these buildings fall under the jurisdiction of the Board of Architectural Review (or B.A.R.).
  • The survey was completed in the summer of 2015, during which our team surveyed 28 properties for the Modern Charleston project. Click here to find out which buildings have been surveyed.
  • Each building in the survey has a full record with photographic documentation and data, which includes such information as the building type, date of construction, BAR approval dates, square footage, height, ownership details, and more. Some of the buildings have been photographed more extensively than others, but even properties for which construction hasn’t started yet, the future building sites were photographed. For more information, we created an in-depth guide to reading the building surveys: Click here to read it.
  • The survey is searchable through the map or through the buildings list. On the map, you can zoom in and out, and simply click the icon positioned over the building of interest.
  • This project was self-funded and independently conducted, and is the exclusive work of the DAESCI team.
What is the BAR?

The long version: The Board of Architectural Review (BAR) of Charleston, South Carolina was established in 1931 in conjunction with the creation of the first historic preservation ordinance in the United States. To help maintain and protect the historic district of Charleston over time, the purpose of the board, as stated in the City of Charleston Zoning Ordinance, is “the preservation and protection of the old historic or architecturally worthy structures and quaint neighborhoods which impart a distinct aspect to the city and which serve as visible reminders of the historical and cultural heritage of the city, the state, and the nation.” Today this means the BAR reviews alterations to historic properties and proposed new structures in the historic districts, while following the principles established by the Charleston Standards.

The short version: If you want to build a new building in the Charleston historic district, it likely means you will face the BAR, a group that reviews building proposals and upholds specific standards and guidelines for new construction.

The Survey Process
  • Over the course of several weeks and countless hours, we walked up and down almost every street in the Charleston Historic District, identifying, documenting, and photographing newly-constructed buildings and sites. The fieldwork and archival research took approximately two months to complete, and the post-processing and digital production took an additional month to complete.
  • Due to the very nature of the ever-changing cityscape and built environment, the Modern Charleston project recognizes that the surveys become outdated almost overnight. As a result, there can never be a ‘final’ inventory or architectural survey of a city.
Why is a survey important?
  • Normally a building survey is done on older structures, i.e. properties that are usually at least 50 years old and have largely retained their historical integrity. Then, the building survey typically becomes the first line of defense against changes, demolitions, and other negative impacts on an historic property. So why bother do a survey on new buildings? All of the buildings in this project have only been around for 15 years or fewer, but such a survey as this can provide valuable insight into the new construction that has been built within a place with an incredibly rich architectural history.
  • Residents, architects, and local preservation groups may find the survey useful for planning purposes and for evaluating new projects going through the Board of Architectural Review (B.A.R.) process. It is important that new construction continues to be considered not only in relation to the historic context, but also in relation to what is happening in present-day Charleston.
What buildings qualify for the survey?
  • To be included in the Modern Charleston survey, a property must have been completed or in the process of being constructed from 2000 to 2015. In addition, a property must have built on the Charleston peninsula primarily within the city and historic districts, falling under the jurisdiction of the B.A.R.
  • The survey does not include smaller building additions, demolitions, renovations, or restorations, but rather it concentrates on new construction projects.
What buildings didn’t get included?

During the project, our team noted other new buildings currently under construction, but due to time constraints, didn’t include full survey records of these buildings in the Modern Charleston project. These buildings include:

  • College of Charleston (CofC) Addlestone Library – completed in 2005
  • CofC Beatty Center School of Business – completed in 2005
  • TD Arena – completed 2008
  • CofC Harbour Walk – completed 2014
  • CofC Jewish Studies Center, Kosher Dining Hall – under construction as of mid-2015
  • Mixed-Use Building on East Bay Street – under construction as of mid-2015
  • Sargent Jasper Apartments – status pending as of mid-2015

Resources

We thought it might be interesting to take things one step further - in order to help facilitate our understanding and analysis of Charleston's modern architecture. So, we created the following diagrams and resources:

A Schedule of Building Parts

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A Timeline of the B.A.R. Process

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Guide to Reading the Surveys (Click image)

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THANK YOU

We would especially like to thank the following organizations which we found highly useful during our research initiatives. Thank you for providing public access and ongoing commitment to archival materials, online resources, public GIS data, historic maps, and the historic buildings themselves.

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