In Robert Behre's architecture column in The Post and Courier this week, he discusses how the building review system along Charleston's major arteries in West Ashley and on James Island got to where they are today.
The story focuses on construction outside the historic district. That area, as Behre tells us, is overseen by the Board of Architectural Review. The area he is interested in is where the Commercial Corridor Design Review Board (or CCDRB) takes over, along Savannah Highway, for example.
In his column, Behre says that the board was created, essentially, in response to big-box stores such as Lowe's or Home Depot coming into town. Mount Pleasant had already begun regulating building standards, and the city of Charleston thought, "That's not a bad idea."
As Behre tours several buildings that have been overseen by the CCDRB, he shows us how significant that board's influence has been. One of the major examples is the Triangle Char and Bar in Byrnes Downs:
(CCDRB member James) Baatz says the old gas station at 828 Savannah Highway, now in its second restaurant incarnation as the Triangle Char and Bar, could have been torn down but was nicely converted into a restaurant.
Architect Allan Wendt shepherded the design through the board, and the simple metal cladding and brick make it inviting but also true to the building's roots.
"They really paid tribute to what it once was and made it into something new and novel," Baatz says.
The story goes much deeper than that, though, discussing topics such as landscaping, parking vs. pedestrians, and a Wal-Mart that was designed to look like Tara from "Gone With the Wind." It's definitely worth a read and gives a lot of insight into where suburban Charleston is headed in terms of construction.