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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Brown Design Featured in Better! Cities & Towns

Brown Design Studio’s work in Beaufort, South Carolina will be featured in the March-April, May-June and July-August editions of Better! Cities & Towns ( The three-part article will outline the City of Beaufort’s vision for the future. The first, written by Robert Steuteville, is titled “Civic Master Plan Points the Way.” This feature provides an overview of the first steps in the updated City Master Plan and will touch on several of our projects that we have worked on over the last several years. 

One of the projects is Lafayette Street, which is a Public-Private partnership between Brown Design and the City of Beaufort.  Lafayette Street is the first of the projects to come out of the Civic Master Plan and into the implementation stage.  The project will consist of six market-rate infill cottages ranging from 1000-1300 sq.ft.  Construction starts this summer. 

Lafayette and Rodgers Street Infill Project

Stay tuned to our blog for more information on the exciting projects happening at Brown Design Studio.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Berean Presbyterian Church is Complete

We’re proud to say this is our final update on the renovation work for the former Berean Presbyterian Church. After months of design work and construction, the USC-B Art Studio is complete!  The roof has been completely restored, and all the wood rot has been removed and replaced. Have a look at some of the before and after imagery!


Monday, March 17, 2014

Brown Design Featured in Best In American Living

Brown Design Studio’s projects were recently featured in the Winter 2014 edition of Best in American Living, a publication of the National Association of Home Builders ( The publication discusses the many different aspects associated with home building in the United States. Our work is featured in the article, “The Missing Middle,” which looks at the current home building trends and discusses the “forgotten group,” consisting of empty nesters and single-person households that don’t require a large living space. The two projects featured in the article were Habersham Village (, located in Beaufort, South Carolina and East Beach (, located in Norfolk, Virginia. These projects include small to large single-family units, multi-family units, and row houses catering to this group. Flexibility in the design of these units allows us to adapt to the area’s density by altering the buildings from a single-family unit to a multi-family unit. We have been refining this design approach over the past 16 years developing walkable neighborhoods and town centers. We would like to thank Daniel Parolek at Opticos Design Inc. for featuring us in “The Missing Middle” article.

Writing by Andrew Boughan,
Co-op Student at Brown Design Studio

Friday, February 21, 2014

Presbyterian Church Update

Great news! Since our last update on the Berean Presbyterian Church, we are seeing different aspects of the project starting to come to fruition. The roof has been completely stripped of all wood rot and the team has installed new wood boards and waterproof installation.

They’ve also added new canopies over the doors and replaced some of the wood trim that was in disrepair. The stairs and wheelchair ramp are finishing up and should be done within the week.

As the projects starts to come to a close, we should expect to see the new red metal roof installed, the final paint job of the exterior, and a complete landscaping of the site over the coming weeks.

Photos from Huss Construction
Writing by Andrew Boughan,
Co-op Student at Brown Design Studio

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Berean Presbyterian Church

A current project Brown Design Studio is working on, alongside the Beaufort Branch of the University of South Carolina, is the exterior renovation of the Berean Presbyterian Church. USC-B acquired the property in 1993 and has been using the space as an art studio for their students. The current goal of the project is to stabilize the building’s foundation, replace the roof and stairs, and remove all lead paint.
Located along Carteret Street in Beaufort SC, the Berean Presbyterian Church has long been a place of gathering for community members. The Berean Presbyterian Church, built in 1892, was the dream of some very prominent African-American figures who endeavored to introduce a new Presbyterian congregation in Beaufort. It operated up until the late 1920’s, when the majority of the congregation relocated to nearby churches. In 1931, the Beaufort Township Library purchased the property and transformed it an African-American library branch with a space reserved for community meetings. But by 1965, the branch was forced to close because of the desegregation of the South. A year later, the county purchased the property and the building underwent major renovations over the following years. In 1993, the Beaufort branch of the University of South Carolina began utilizing the space as art studios.
The pictures below show the work that’s being completed on the site and some of the improvements already made.

 Stabilizing the Foundation

 Working to Repair and Restore the Exterior Trim

The Removal of the Lead Paint (Top of Structure)

 Investigating Original Wood Shake Roof and Original Wood Board Substrate

Photos and Writing by Andrew Boughan
Co-op Student at Brown Design Studio

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

An Afternoon at I'On

As a relative newcomer to the Charleston-Savannah area and a recent college graduate focusing on Traditional New Urbanism, seeing examples of TNU developments in the area was high on my priority list. I’d heard great things about I’On from friends and professors, so that was a must-see for me. As soon as I could come up with an excuse to drive up to Mt. Pleasant, I gave myself an afternoon and decided to see it for myself. 

I was not disappointed.

Though there are certain overlaps in its design strategies with most other New Urbanist communities, I’On is uniquely and unequivocally Charlestonian. The only other large-scale New Urbanist development I’ve been to is Celebration, Florida, which I’ve visited a few times with family. What I’ve found to make a great TNU development stand out can only be discovered when you get out of your car and walk it. Whereas in other developments, you won’t miss anything driving past at thirty-five miles per hour, an exceptional development leaves prizes scattered about for the pedestrian. One of the most enjoyable parts of meandering through an urban environment is to come upon a vista—a framing of a particular space or structure by other buildings or natural features. It’s hardly accidental, but is usually the result of intention on the part of the urban planners and architects. It is these vistas and the plethora of small, precise details that work together to separate the mundane experiences from the memorable. It’s just as wondrous at a distance and it is under close inspection.

I’On isn’t afraid of a few wrinkles in her dress. It’s not afraid of crooked streets creating sharp, triangular parks, usually overgrown with vegetation climbing up fences and an abundance of trees that help to add character to the built environment and provide for a unique experience walking down the street. I could have parachuted right into I’On blindfolded, had my blindfold removed, and been convinced I was standing somewhere in a historic area of Charleston as opposed to a development outside of it. The character of Charleston is perfectly captured. The houses are where they should be—closer to, engaging, and acting to frame the street. Just like an enormous puzzle, it’s not simply a “collection of many great houses”, but instead fits and functions together to produce a wonderful community.

I love that each corner of I’On feels unique. You don’t know what you’ll see around the next corner (and you can actually walk through it all, the size is not daunting). A street could end on-axis with an impressive house or a church. The terminus of a street is not an “accident.” Everything feels deliberate.

My favorite moment was looking through a canal framed on both sides by houses and trees. Just where the vanishing point of the perspective should be was a grand house with a temple front looking over a lake. There’s such a care in the way I’On was designed that makes the whole so enjoyable. It is architecture and urban planning working together, and the end product is something far greater than either of them could have achieved on their own.

Writing and Pictures by David Easterday,
Designer at Brown Design Studio

Monday, October 7, 2013

Charleston Needs a Prince

Charleston needs a Prince. 

His Royal Highness Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, received the Albert Simons Medal of Excellence on Wednesday, September 11th at the College of Charleston.  The Albert Simons Medal was established to mark the twentieth anniversary of the School of the Arts.  Albert Simons pioneered the teaching of art at the College of Charleston, and the medal honors individuals who have excelled in one or more of the areas in which Albert Simons himself excelled, including Civic Design, Architectural Design, Historic Preservation and Urban Planning.  

The Historic Preservation and Community Planning Program in the Department of Art History at the College of Charleston School of the Arts presented the award.  

HRH Prince Charles’ life passion has been the pursuit of sustainable local architecture, planning and agriculture.  He has written the book Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World as well as a book on sustainable agriculture, The Prince’s Speech: On the Future of Food.  He has delivered countless speeches over the years aimed at raising the bar in the fields of architecture and planning.  He also asks hard questions such as why the skyline of Paris remains generally regarded as beautiful while his beloved London (including St. Paul’s Cathedral) is assaulted by Modernist glass towers and contextless boxes.  HRH laments that while London was beautifully rebuilt following the Great Fire of 1666 (by Christopher Wren and others simply by following the basic patterns of English Traditional Design), the rebuilding efforts of the post-WW2 generation of architects failed London by breaking with the entire historic fabric of not just the City but also of the English culture.  

Charleston could use a Prince today: a patron who understands the importance of heritage and growth within context.  The motto of the City of Charleston is Aedes mores juraque curat (“She guards her buildings, customs and laws”). This is precisely what has not been happening for the most part in Charleston following World War 2, outside of preservation activity.  There is no Living Tradition of how to build sustainable Charleston architecture that, by definition, includes cultural and historic precedents.  That Living Tradition should include local materials and tradespeople as well as successfully integrate new technologies and method, hence it being called a “Living Tradition.”

The forthcoming Clemson Architectural Building is a prime example of the shortcomings within the design community.  This building offers little, if anything, in the way of referencing the traditions of Lowcountry Architectural Design, nor takes any precedence from the 343 years of Charleston architectural DNA.  It seems even ironic that a building to house the Historic Preservation Program would itself feature only accidental gestures that show a remote understanding of traditional design, which should be a core component of the preservation program, in its efforts to foster a living tradition of local design. 

Contrast the Clemson School of Architecture with the efforts of the American College of the Building Arts.  This program is a wonderful example of bringing forth a Living Tradition and has been influenced by HRH’s own Prince’s Foundation programs.  The local design community should take the time to educate themselves in the core concepts that ACBA is applying on a daily basis and also honor and celebrate the new generation of craftsmen it is producing.  

In addition to HRH Prince Charles’ books, below are some additional sources for further learning and applying contextual design and growth.  

The Old Way of Seeing: How Architecture Lost its Magic.  Jonathan Hale, Mariner Books, 1995. 

The Original Green: Unlocking the Mystery of True Sustainability.  Steve Mouzon, The New Urban Guild Foundation, 2010. 

A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction.  Christopher Alexander, 1977. 

The Architecture of Community.  Leon Krier, Island Press, 2009. 

Image courtesy of T-Square Interns.