A New Neighborhood for Charleston, SC

INSTRUCTOR:Alex Krieger, assisted by Klaus Mayer, Loeb FellowParticipation:The Charleston Studio is open to, indeed welcomes the participation of, students from each of the disciplines at the GSD: urban design, planning, landscape architecture and architecture.Site:Approximately 150 acres of largely undeveloped land located on the edge of Charleston\’s growth ring, a part of the country which is experiencing substantial growth pressures. Program:Whatever would produce a vital, mixed-use, reasonably dense, non-generic, public amenity rich, choice in housing laden, attractive to multiple economic and demographic segments, environment protecting and conservation minded new neighborhood for the City of Charleston. In other words, the studio will explore the qualities, programs, planning and design strategies that are necessary to creating good places to live in contemporary urban America.Pedagogic Intent:Urban observers, including students and faculty at the GSD, seem better able to articulate the shortcomings of homogenized development patterns, privatization, real estate theming and New Urbanism then to postulate plausible alternative models. This studio presents the challenge to do the latter. As we critique sprawl and imagine (hope) that existing urban centers will repopulate with aging baby-boomers, empty nesters and young cosmopolitans, 90% of all new development continues to – and will continue to – occur at the periphery of existing cities. We ignore this fact at our own professional peril, and disdain for conventional development is not a convincing substitute for the posing of wise and imaginative alternatives. Four Key Questions:1) If conventional suburban models seem banal and New Urbanist proposals too sentiment driven and equally narrow, what should the sources of inspiration be for new urban growth near and outside of traditional urban cores?2) The center of Charleston is among the most charming and historically preserved of American cities. What influence should this have on the design of new neighborhoods for the city?3) If the idea of \’a home\’ remains the aspiration of most citizens, indeed around the world, while the image of \’housing\’ often (and unfairly) suggests the un-attainability of a home for all (or a compromise of its ideal), how can the design of new dense neighborhoods overcome such a dichotomous perception?4) The \”Low Country\” refers to the fact that most of the region is essentially marshland, beautiful and fragile and very low to the water table. It is not a landscape particularly conducive to intense development. What images of occupying such a landscape come to mind, and how can additional development be designed with minimal harm to the environment?Format and Working Method:Students will ultimately produce plans and designs for much or all of the 150 acres of land in Charleston. However, there will be a major analytical and investigatory component to the studio. Research and documentation of housing prototypes, of historic and contemporary urban precedents, of housing density gradients and their implications for related facilities and infrastructure, and about strategies for developing environmentally sensitive territories will engage us for the first third of the semester. Much of this investigatory work will be done in teams. It is expected that final planning and design solutions will be developed and advanced individually. Class Trip:The studio will travel to Charleston and will visit other nearby historic and new communities, including Savannah, Georgia, in late February. The purpose of the trip will be to visit the site, of course, meet with landowners, neighbors and city representatives, and also gain insight and some familiarity with the traditions of urbanism in the region. Travel and accommodation expenses wil