Architects Cook Up Feast For The Eyes

ARCHITECTURE

By Robert Behre (Contact) | The Post and Courier | Monday, March 30, 2009

When Trident Tech wanted to expand its Culinary Institute of Charleston to the Palmer Campus downtown, the architects faced a seven-course challenge.

Essentially, they had to try to find a way to stuff 10 pounds of dressing into a five-pound bird.

The "bird" in this case was the 26,000-square-foot west wing of the old C.A. Brown High School, which Trident took over after the Columbus Street school closed in 1982.

The "dressing" was a series of kitchens and other rooms that would help the institute's students hone their skills.

These include a 50-seat dining room, a 100-seat amphitheater and demonstration kitchen, a production kitchen, a general teaching kitchen, a nutrition research lab, a baking lab, a beverage operations lab, plus the necessary storage and office space.

LS3P Associates, which designed the institute's space on Trident's main campus off Rivers Avenue in North Charleston, ultimately hit on a fine recipe.

On the exterior, architect Richard Bing says he was mindful of the $6 million addition and renovation that Rosenblum Coe Architects had given the eastern part of the Palmer Campus almost a decade ago.

Bing kept the building's windows and its speckled brick walls while adding new white metal, red brick and stucco details to match, or at least harmonize, with the main Palmer campus.

And the institute's new curved wall and entry canopy both gesture toward the main entrance about 150 feet away.

But inside is the most appetizing part.

"There wasn't a lot of space for the program they wanted to provide," Bing says, "so we wanted the spaces to flow into each other to feel more spacious."

The central hallway does triple duty as a circulation space, an art gallery and a backdrop for the dining area, which is separated from it by only a clear glass wall.

Bing also designed a curving wall that mirrors the gentle curve on the outside, while interior designer Lisa Kerr and the rest of the team came up with colorful artwork and other subtle touches to make the space feel a notch above what one might expect from a tech school.

The renovation was one of just two large-scale projects to receive the highest award recently from the South Carolina chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

The other honor award went to the new Medical University of South Carolina hospital (a joint effort between LS3P and NBBJ).

Several local projects and firms also received awards (for some work already featured in this space). Those winners include: Liollio Architecture, in association with Drakeford Architects, for the Charles Towne Landing Visitor Center; LS3P Associates for the Copper Station Holdings in Ridgeville; and Watson Tate Savory and Cooper Robertson and Partners for the College of Charleston School of Education.

The Charleston firm Thomas & Denzinger Architects won an honor award for a private home in Jackson County, N.C., while other awards went to Herlong & Associates for a new Sullivan's Island home; SGA Architecture LLC, for a Georgetown home and for the Pepper Plantation Pavilion in Awendaw; McKellar & Associates Inc. for the Cassique Sports Center; and Bello Studio Architecture for a private home in Charleston.

Charleston architect Jeffrey M. Rosenblum, a former chairman of the city's Board of Architectural Review, was awarded the 2009 Medal of Distinction. Thomas & Denzinger Architects won the Firm of the Year award.

Robert Behre may be reached at 937-5771 or by fax at 937-5579. His e-mail address isrbehre@postandcourier.com, and his mailing address is 134 Columbus St., Charleston, SC 29403.