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City-man

A Modern Urban Downtown & A Historic Downtown?

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I've always wanted to know whether Charleston would ever get a historic DT and a modern DT, so i'm here seeking answers. Oh by the way, i'm new here,so i wanna get use to everything. :lol:

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I've always wondered why they couldn't do that either. Just keep historic Downtown be and a couple of miles up the road or something have a modern downtown with no height restrictions

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Cuz that would defeat the purpose of the city. Downtown Charleston isnt but so big, you dont need no "Modern Downtown" to coincide with it. Its too small for that, and the purpose of the city is to keep its originality. A Modern Downtown is not necessary. All that development is the problem with Downtown Charleston right now as we speak. Everyday that passes the real Charleston is being gradually lost. 10-15 years from now people are gonna look back and all the things that made Charleston Charleston, will be damn near non-existent. Just like in New Orleans. If the inhabitants, meaning actual New Orleanians, dont inhabit the city, it can no longer exist as New Orleans. You need the people for it to work. Likewise with Downtown Charleston, if this influx of college students, seasonal and rich out of towners continues on its path. Before you know it, Charleston will not be Charleston anymore. I think this idea that changing the face of Charleston shouldnt "hurt" anything is just one step in the road to further relinquishing our originality.

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Hi city-man, and welcome to UP! To answer your question, I will be in opposition to what L-Beware just wrote. I believe that a historic DT and modern DT can be achieved in Chas. But we have to ask ourselves what really makes up downtown Chas? If you consider historic DT to be the area south of Calhoun Street, up Ashley Avenue to The Citadel, all the way to Mt. Pleasant Street (the Neck), it will be extremely difficult to have both modern and historic areas. The historic district should not be extended that far.

However, I consider historic DT to be mostly south of Calhoun Street with some blocks in between King and Meeting Street up to Spring Street. After that, I believe some rules can be loosened. The concept that Chas will lose what it is if we build taller buildings is very alarmist and extremist, if you ask me. Look at historic cities such as Boston, Richmond, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Despite their impressive modern, urban skylines, they still possess their rich, historic fabric; many tourists from all over the world come to these cities to experience their originality. Chas is so steeped in history, it would have to take something extreme such as bulldozing the Battery to take away from the city's originality.

Chas can have a modern DT, away from the historic area, just like sonofaque mentioned. The MUSC medical complex already provides an urban footprint to build on, and things are starting to progress. Taller buildings can be built around Lockwood Blvd, Hagood Avenue, and Courtenay Drive. They can also be built further up Meeting and King Streets for what is planned to be the Midtown development.

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Charleston native, i totally agree. A modern downtown is possible near Meetings and King streets.I 've sometimes compared this impressive coastal city with Boston and New Orleans.I mean, look at Boston's DT, they possess some the best modern DT buildings ever without even loosing their historic fabric.I guess putting in a lot of planning, into Chas would help it gain a modern DT. This is how i see it, between the new bridge, on one side it could be the historic DT, while on the other side if possible, the modern DT.OR just to be creative, they could be like these other urban cities and build some modern architecture a few miles away from the historic dt or somewhere near it.

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Great ideas, city-man! I firmly believe that it can be done in Chas, almost exactly the way you described. Basically, the new bridge should be the impetus to transform the opinion that no building can be tall in the DT area. As you said, in keeping the historic area of DT preserved, dilapidated areas can be demolished and rebuilt with more modern architecture and increases in height. Right now, the bridge seems a little out of scale with the city, but I think city leaders understood that when they helped push for its construction. The bridge now allows for taller buildings which will blend in better with the bridge as a taller skyline starts to form.

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Great ideas, city-man! I firmly believe that it can be done in Chas, almost exactly the way you described. Basically, the new bridge should be the impetus to transform the opinion that no building can be tall in the DT area. As you said, in keeping the historic area of DT preserved, dilapidated areas can be demolished and rebuilt with more modern architecture and increases in height. Right now, the bridge seems a little out of scale with the city, but I think city leaders understood that when they helped push for its construction. The bridge now allows for taller buildings which will blend in better with the bridge as a taller skyline starts to form.

Precisely!That's exactly it.I hope the city leaders look at Chas in a different way since the new bridge is up because this an advantage, for Charleston, to show its true inner city strength, for both modern and historic without destroying the beautiful historic district.

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Whats the purpose of changing the face of Downtown???? Why is this even necessary is my question??

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There is really no purpose of changing downtown, its the purpose of Charleston of moving up urban living without having to destroy their historic fabric, like Boston for example. Basically, nothing in the original downtown now, will not be destroyed just to make a modern Dt, instead, build the modern one elsewhere, where its acessible to the historic DT, that way, people can have the best of both worlds.

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There is really no purpose of changing downtown, its the purpose of Charleston of moving up urban living without having to destroy their historic fabric, like Boston for example. Basically, nothing in the original downtown now, will not be destroyed just to make a modern Dt, instead, build the modern one elsewhere, where its acessible to the historic DT, that way, people can have the best of both worlds.

As a very young boy, I remember going downtown Charleston to the museum, the battery, to shop . . . etc. In many ways it is still preserved and gives me a great feeling of nostalgia when I return. As Charleston becomes a more and more inportant seaport and business center in the 21st century, I would think it will need a more modern business district, never to take away from the wonderful city it is, but perhaps help preserve it. How can the old city absorb the kind of growth that Charleston is capable of and likely to experience with current projections into the next few decades? Hopefully, there will be a new modern downtown. And yes, I would not mind seeing skycrapers a bit north of the old city. It will never lose its charm, but perhaps it will become a World class business destination, just has it has been a truly World class tourist and historical destination. This is coming from a guy who has lived many years in San Francisco. A city that is certainly different from Charleston in many ways but with many similarities. It is indeed a dynamic modern city with a historical and charming heart!

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Doesn't Paris have a modern business district separate from the historic city?

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That would be correct! I've seen pics of it as you go through the Arc de Triomphe. It is very tall, diverse, and modern.

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As a very young boy, I remember going downtown Charleston to the museum, the battery, to shop . . . etc. In many ways it is still preserved and gives me a great feeling of nostalgia when I return. As Charleston becomes a more and more inportant seaport and business center in the 21st century, I would think it will need a more modern business district, never to take away from the wonderful city it is, but perhaps help preserve it. How can the old city absorb the kind of growth that Charleston is capable of and likely to experience with current projections into the next few decades? Hopefully, there will be a new modern downtown. And yes, I would not mind seeing skycrapers a bit north of the old city. It will never lose its charm, but perhaps it will become a World class business destination, just has it has been a truly World class tourist and historical destination. This is coming from a guy who has lived many years in San Francisco. A city that is certainly different from Charleston in many ways but with many similarities. It is indeed a dynamic modern city with a historical and charming heart!

Wow, i didn't know San Francisco, had simalarities with Charleston.I always thought that west coast metropolises were more modern type, and didn't have that much historic buildings at all, as far as monuments. I was born and raised in San Diego, and know they have a nice DT, its been touched with innovation for the past few years.It probably doesn't have that much simalarity to Charleston, but, one thing is for sure, Charleston can be touched with innovation too.

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Hmm, if Charleston never makes a modern downtown, then do y'all think that another city will (N Charleston, Mt Pleasant...?) Not just create a modern downtown, but a skyline and eventually steal Charleston's thunder?

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North Charleston has the best chance of doing this. They already have the area's convention center and arena. A good cleaning up would do wonders for the place.

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...San Francisco and Charleston should be sister cities...but I am happy that Spoleto, Italy, and Berlin are Charleston's sister cities...I love SF, where I now live, but I am considering moving to Berlin...

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I still get the shivers when I think of Berlin.

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Charleston native, i totally agree. A modern downtown is possible near Meetings and King streets.I 've sometimes compared this impressive coastal city with Boston and New Orleans.I mean, look at Boston's DT, they possess some the best modern DT buildings ever without even loosing their historic fabric.I guess putting in a lot of planning, into Chas would help it gain a modern DT. This is how i see it, between the new bridge, on one side it could be the historic DT, while on the other side if possible, the modern DT.OR just to be creative, they could be like these other urban cities and build some modern architecture a few miles away from the historic dt or somewhere near it.

I disagree that Boston has managed to preserve its historic fabric. Just walk down State St in Boston, and you don't get the same feeling as you do on Market or King in Charleston. That said, Boston has managed to integrate the two fairly well I think. The large buildings make it feel different, but you can get into the North End or Beacon Hill and still have the colonial city charm. Charleston should have some sort of financial district type of place or modern downtown area where modern buildings can be constructed. The Neck area is well suited for that, and I think that the Magnolia project should include infrastructure for this type of development.

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The idea of talking about a city as having a "historical" and "modern" DT seems odd to me. I suppose this idea evolved from efforts to establish districts for preservation. While there are examples of this dichotomy in many cities (Paris, for example), the best urban experiences to me allow for juxtaposition of comtemporary design with a city's existing fabric.

Charleston's historical fabric is the result of the individaul tastes and styles of those that built what we now call historical. It was not the result of a planned and organized effort, but more likely the result of one planter trying to out show the next.

It would be much more relevant, to those living in the city now and those in the future, to think of it as a dynamic living center rather than composed of compartmentalized museum exhibits, sorry districts.

Obviously as any city expands its boundaries to undeveloped areas, those places offer more opportunity for contemporary design. Conversley, at a city's historical core, needs change and buildings deteriorate. The question of appropriateness becomes central. I don't believe either Modern or Traditional design is inherently good or better than the other in either context. Rather, these are merely stylistic preferences, no different from those that built in the early 1700's.

A vibrant city, if that is what we envision Charleston to be, should embrace a living and evolving architectural tradition, not a tradition of restrictiveness and determinism.

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The idea of talking about a city as having a "historical" and "modern" DT seems odd to me. I suppose this idea evolved from efforts to establish districts for preservation. While there are examples of this dichotomy in many cities (Paris, for example), the best urban experiences to me allow for juxtaposition of comtemporary design with a city's existing fabric.

Charleston's historical fabric is the result of the individaul tastes and styles of those that built what we now call historical. It was not the result of a planned and organized effort, but more likely the result of one planter trying to out show the next.

It would be much more relevant, to those living in the city now and those in the future, to think of it as a dynamic living center rather than composed of compartmentalized museum exhibits, sorry districts.

Obviously as any city expands its boundaries to undeveloped areas, those places offer more opportunity for contemporary design. Conversley, at a city's historical core, needs change and buildings deteriorate. The question of appropriateness becomes central. I don't believe either Modern or Traditional design is inherently good or better than the other in either context. Rather, these are merely stylistic preferences, no different from those that built in the early 1700's.

A vibrant city, if that is what we envision Charleston to be, should embrace a living and evolving architectural tradition, not a tradition of restrictiveness and determinism.

I'm surprised someone from NYC feels this way. What are Greenwich Village and SoHo within the larger context of the city? They are remarkably underdeveloped if you you compare them to Midtown, the Financial District, or even the Upper East Side. Yet they serve as the cultural and academic centers of the city. Why can't the historic downtown we have now in Charleston serve the same role? If we're going to build a dense, modern area, we have a lot of industrial land primed for redevelopment in the Charleston Neck. It's closer to the historic downtown then Central Park is to the Financial District. It would be an easy trip by light rail or car, even by bicycle. Why can't we expand our downtown to encompass this area instead of just being boxed in by traditional views of what constitutes "downtown" Charleston? That way we can preserve what history has bequeathed us, and grow larger and stronger at the same time.

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I'm with lsgchas.

Welcome to the forum, trm2105!

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I'm surprised someone from NYC feels this way. What are Greenwich Village and SoHo within the larger context of the city? They are remarkably underdeveloped if you you compare them to Midtown, the Financial District, or even the Upper East Side. Yet they serve as the cultural and academic centers of the city. Why can't the historic downtown we have now in Charleston serve the same role? If we're going to build a dense, modern area, we have a lot of industrial land primed for redevelopment in the Charleston Neck. It's closer to the historic downtown then Central Park is to the Financial District. It would be an easy trip by light rail or car, even by bicycle. Why can't we expand our downtown to encompass this area instead of just being boxed in by traditional views of what constitutes "downtown" Charleston? That way we can preserve what history has bequeathed us, and grow larger and stronger at the same time.

An excellent post that I agree with completely.

For those that wish to see the Neck redevelop (Magnolia, etc.), the best way for that to happen to for DT Charleston to preserve it's height and historic restrictions. The appeal of the Neck would be that it would be free of those restrictions.

A developer wealthy enough to build a skyscaper, is wealthy enough to build it in DT Charleston, if that is an option. If the Neck allows high-rises and DT doesn't, that makes the choice obvious. Developers will always gravitate to an established commercial district (which DT is) over an redeveloping brownfield like the Neck, if all other things are equal.

Why risk doing irrepairable harm to the Historic district, when everyone would celebrate high-rises in the neck? As someone said, it would be the best of both worlds.

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London would be an example of a city that continues to evolve yet maintains its history. They have no problem building an ultra modern skyscraper next to a 1000 year old building. It is a triving modern city that retains its historic status. The reason we have such a difficult time with this in the USA is that we don't live in our cities anymore. Charleston, like most cities in the USA (except for NY) sees most of its growth in the suburbs with most of the population living outside the urban part. Because of this places like Charleston, which escaped the ugly urban renewal period of the 50s - 70s, have been turned into museums to remind us of what we once had. A lucky few can afford to live there, but because of the excessive regulation its mostly a dead from the perspective of a place like London. (Even San Francisco has this problem)

There is a lot of land on the Charleston pennisula devoted to single home on single lot constuction and the result is low density development. It's better than the suburbs, but it keeps prices very high and this tends to reduce population in the long run. I think if Charleston is to return to being a living city, then it is going to have to allow some of these homes to be torn down and replaced with condos and office buildings. It's also going to need to plan for some kind of mass transit. Will this happen? Probably not in our lifetimes.

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I'm surprised someone from NYC feels this way. What are Greenwich Village and SoHo within the larger context of the city? They are remarkably underdeveloped if you you compare them to Midtown, the Financial District, or even the Upper East Side. Yet they serve as the cultural and academic centers of the city. Why can't the historic downtown we have now in Charleston serve the same role? If we're going to build a dense, modern area, we have a lot of industrial land primed for redevelopment in the Charleston Neck. It's closer to the historic downtown then Central Park is to the Financial District. It would be an easy trip by light rail or car, even by bicycle. Why can't we expand our downtown to encompass this area instead of just being boxed in by traditional views of what constitutes "downtown" Charleston? That way we can preserve what history has bequeathed us, and grow larger and stronger at the same time.

Thanks, for the welcome. First, I'm from South Carolina. I'm here in New York studying planning and architecture. Second, I'm not sure we have a disagreement, at least not the way I understand the issue. Far from advocating a razing of the historical city, I do believe that properly scaled contemporary projects can be injected successfully into the historical context. Nor do I believe the oldest parts of Charleston can handle an increase in density without compromising its character. I'm simply arguing that to deny innovation there is shortsighted. Things that get old do nont necessarily stay around, paritculary if they are in disrepair. I guess the issue I'm raising here is this: how does one build within the historic context?

You're right, the Neck is a desirable area for greater density and should be in order to absorb the growth in the Charleston area, granted you can convince people denstiy of that scale is good. Greater density in the Neck, could also allow for more open space rather being swallowed up by more I'ons. What I fear may happen in the Neck is a cheap imitation of DT, some new urbanist scenery. I'm all for preserving what we have, I just don't want to see the city stagnate in terms of its architectural legacy. Also, nice to hear people talk about public transportation!

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welcome to the forum trm!

The problem with building in Charleston is that the context is very often dense, but still small in nature. Clemson is trying to build a structure downtown that utilizes a very modern design. I am not sure how well that would "fit in" -but I have always advocated buiding contemporaary buildings. Its going to be weird in 100 years to look back and see architecture from 1700 - 1975 styles and then nothing else. Thats not the case, but sometimes I think it will go that way. The design approval process in downtown Charleston can be difficult.

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