The Vision for Marion Square
Location: Charleston, SC, USA. 10 acre green square
For this project, visualization was used as a means of restoring the historic integrity of a 10 acre green square in Charleston, South Carolina, one of America's great traditional cities. For hundreds of years the buildings around the square were designed in classical styles, however after years of decline the result has been a hopeless mixture of small, mismatched buildings — a gas station, drive-in bank and a parking lot where elegant, classical southern colonial architecture once stood. Although the street grid was strong, its urban coherence was weak. The buildings along the corridors and connecting cross streets were decrepit or missing and there was little interest of investment on the part of the private sector.
In expressing a vision for tightening up the urban fabric of the streets along and behind the square and filling in vital gaps with a mix of retail, civic, office, residential and hotel buildings, the designer showed how the square could regain a sense of coherency and definition, and how the traditional urban grid of the surrounding streets could be restored creating a vibrant gathering place and destination for local residents as well as tourists.
Although only a design exercise, and therefore not constrained by budget and planning restrictions, the proposal was for an ambitious remodeling of this key urban space with a series of buildings designed in the architectural tradition of the city. Harmony, symmetry, proportion and beauty were all crucial parts of the mandate. Other considerations taken into account were the mix of building uses, traffic and parking management, the design of sidewalks, tree planting, and the removal of overhead wiring and clutter.
Lessons learned: That the professionals and preservationists, who are trained in modernism and insist that this style is compatible in an historic infill project, often ignore the current historic district ordinances.
Transect Zone(s): T6 core.
Project or Plan's Scale: Block
Features: Civic buildings & parks.
Land area (in acres): 10
Total built area (in sq. ft.):
Total project cost (in local currency):
Retail area (in sq. ft.):
Office area (in sq. ft.):
Industrial area (in sq. ft.):
Number of hotel units:
Number of residential units (include live/work): 80
Civic uses (type and size): museum, opera house, mason's lodge
Parks & green space (in acres):
Residential types: Semi-detached, Small lot detached.
Project team designers: Fairfax and Sammons, Architects, Evans & Schmidt, Architects, Randolf Martz, Architects, Ralph Muldrow
Project team developers: Andrew Hamilton, Fairfax and Sammons Architects P.C.
Previous site status: Redevelopment
Starting/Ending date of construction/implementation: -