Site for Johns Island River House

View toward the Stono River on Johns Island We'll soon be under permit for the construction of a new residence designed for our clients on their beautiful Johns Island property. I visited the site again yesterday to take a final look at the building footprint staked-out on the property.

New home site on the Stono River.

The new river house that we designed will be sited on the 9 acre parcel to take advantage of the strengths of the property--numerous grand live oaks and large pines, short and long river views, mature understory flora, among others--while framing views to conceal the presence of the few neighboring residences nearby. We are re-routing the entry drive to skirt the edge a beautiful glade of native ferns clustered near the road.

This glade of native ferns near the road will greet those arriving at the property year round along the re-routed entry drive to the residence.

Stakes marking the corners of the proposed residence give us an opportunity to make adjustments to the final positioning.

We are happy to be working with RM Buck Builders, who will be constructing the residence.  A quality, family-run business, we were pleased to join them off of Kiawah to apply their quality control systems to the construction of this residence.  We're also thrilled to have the support of Rebekah Carter and her Red Element Design Studio in assisting our clients with the selections for the interior. Rebekah is doing a fabulous and professional job, as usual.

A post with some conceptual designs for the new residence can be found via this link.

This tree and two other marsh-side oaks were key in determining the design and orientation of the residence.

Ansonborough Addition Concept

Addition concept for 19th Century Ansonborough dependency; a parapet wall makes reference to the existing structure while accommodating green roof. We've been working with repeat clients on the renovation and addition to a 19th C. masonry dependency in Charleston's Ansonborough neighborhood.  The owners have shifted their focus to another property further downtown, and so have put this property on the market.  If they are successful, I hope that it brings a new owner who is as excited about the potential for this property as we are.

Built around 1838 after an earlier structure was destroyed by the Great Fire in the same year, 63 Anson Street was build as a dependency to the Susan Robinson House, located at 48 Society Street. Historic preservation easements are held by the Historic Charleston Foundation.  Throughout the design process thus far, we worked closely with the HCF, who has approved the design that we created.

The proposed addition and renovation of this 19th C. Ansonborough dependency locates an eat-in kitchen and living room within the new addition in the rear.

Charleston Getting Smarter, Less Self Aware

It looks like there's a reason for the robust market for the $12 artisan cocktail and $18 lunch.  More than half of all new Charleston County residents over 25 have bachelor's or post-graduate degrees.  Furthermore, more of those without college degrees are moving out of the county.  This according to the latest census data covering 2007-2011, which shows that more than 38% of all Charleston County residents over 25 now have college degrees, well above the national average of 28.5% and state average of below 25%.  We hope that this trend of a better educated populace will continue to strengthen the local public schools which, while better, have plenty of room for improvement.  And if some enterprising chef still has the capacity for making a quality $5 sandwich, they will always find a taker right here. Here's the Post and Courier story from this morning with the statistics and more detail .

Something else I've noticed lately: it seems like people more disconnected from the condition of Charleston being a real place, with the potential for actual "danger" and "harm" for those not paying attention.  From tourists backing into the street with their cameras and without looking at all for oncoming cars, to coeds walking on the sidewalks between houses in their nighties, its getting kind of surreal.

Last week, I made a brief visit to an all-but-completed project in the Eastside neighborhood to look at an issue with the siding installation.  I was on my bicycle, and pulled in past a car parked in the driveway.  So, I'm inbound of the car from the street, straddling my bike in the middle of the driveway, looking up at the house.  It is a classic Charleston Single with side porches. Out comes a new resident of a second floor apartment onto the porch.  He doesn't look around or down, and I didn't want him to be startled by a stranger in the driveway, so I'm looking at him waiting for him to notice me so that I offer a wave of acknowledgement and let him know why I was there.  He cruises across the porch and down the exterior stair, sort of walking down and away from me.  Then, he unlocks and climbs in his car, door still open, sitting down and facing my direction.

He sits there for maybe 15 seconds fiddling with his phone, facing toward me, as I'm still straddling my bike in the middle of his driveway.  He never looks up. Then he gets out of the car, closes the door, and dashes up the stair, heading generally toward me.  The stair has an open railing and open risers, so you can see through it toward the back of the lot, where I'm standing. He reaches the porch, then walks across the porch not 12 feet away, right past me.  In the house he goes, and never notices me once.  I could have been standing there stark naked with an ax on my shoulder and it wouldn't have made any difference.

What happened to the basic awareness of your surroundings?  Shouldn't your "spidey sense" kick in at some point?  It is so interesting to me that we can be so up in our heads that we lose the basic connection with our surroundings.  But, hey, at least we're getting smarter, Charleston!

Carolopolis Award for 625 Rutledge

625 Rutledge Ave, 2013 Carolopolis Award recipient. We were glad to accept a Carolopolis Award from the the Preservation Society of Charleston last night for our work at 625 Rutledge Avenue, know as the Seebeck House.  It was the first of several projects that we have collaborated on with our friends at Yarrum Properties.  We're proud to help bring this Hampton Park Terrace residence back from it dilapidated condition, and it is gratifying to receive recognition from the PSoC for it.  The  PSoC Membership meeting and awards ceremony was more than pleasant.  It is always good to see Carriage Properties partner/event sponsor Olin Chamberlain and knock back a couple of cold, domestic beverages with him.

A veritable treasure trove is historical information, existing and process photos are available by following links on the history, window restoration, interior detailing, and completion.

South of Broad Renovation

18th Century residence cum atelier before reimagination. We're excited about the opportunity to redesign a rare Charleston property in the old and historic district. An existing 18th Century structure will be a lynchpin in the commission. I spent a while down there today crawling around the structure, which had just has its spent and failing plaster and lathe removed from the ceilings.  A little worse and a little better than expected, depending on the particular location. Constructed as a residence, this building served for a lengthy period as a blacksmith shop before reverting to residential in the 20th century. An out-sized fireplace is a clear vestige of its industrial period.

Through a partition in the 18th C. Charleston structure

Stair in 19th C. Charleston structure

Second level room, with framing dating from 19th C.

Johns Island River House

Rear Elevation of new residence designed for a five acre riverfront site on the Stono. We wrapped up a busy 2013 with the completion of the conceptual design for a new residence designed for a beautiful site on Johns Island fronting the Stono River.  After spending considerable time on the site several weeks before analyzing the best views, we returned again to map the footprints and inclinations of the many grand live trees on the site.

The program, in brief, was for a residence of 3,000 sf +/- of conditioned space over one level, with an office, library and studio over a garage. The outdoor spaces were as important as the indoor for a couple that actively engages with the outdoors and loves to entertain guests, including frequent visitors from Italy. We were able to produce a design of 2,800 sf of conditioned space that can be expanded into the second level if our clients or subsequent owners so choose.  The emphasis was on simplicity of form and construction, taking cues from vernacular Lowcountry residences and agrarian structures.  Outdoor spaces include a fenced courtyard garden in the front, covered and screened porches in the rear, and an arbor deck with a trellis above and fireplace to the side.  We carefully sited the house around the trees and were able to do so with the elimination of only one tree of significance (a 20" pine).

Conceptual floor plan for riverfront residence on Johns Island.

I met with our clients to present the design a couple of days before Christmas, and was pleased that they suggested celebrating over a good bottle of prosecco. It was a nice way to lead in to Christmas and to wrap up 2013.