Official Website

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Riverview Charter School Permanent Facilities Workshop

Next week, December 6th-8th, Brown Design Studio will be leading a workshop for the permanent facility for Riverview Charter School. For details and schedules, to see the public presentation, click here. Riverview has also created a blog to follow the progress of the permanent facility. To stay in the loop, click here!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lowcountry Weekly Article Series

The Lowcountry Weekly, Beaufort's Bi-Weekly free newspaper has graciously given the CNU Carolinas Chapter a regular column. The column is called Civitas (see previous blog entry for definition) and can be found online and in print. The goal is to discuss a variety of topics that are important to the future growth of Beaufort. We want everyday people, not just designers, planners, architects, etc... to be aware of all the complex pieces that make Beaufort a great city from the design of streets, to the public realm, to local agriculture. Members of the CNU Carolinas are welcome to contribute. Please send us an email if you're interested in writing an article.

Civitas : The Complete City

Image from Leon Krier, Architecture Choice or Fate, Windsor, Birks, UK: Andreas Papadakis Publisher, 1998. P30.
Great places, cities and towns are composed of many different pieces. These pieces can be divided into two main parts; the Res Publica (the Public Realm) and the Res Privata (the Private Realm). One without the other is a failed place, but with both, a place may become great. Those parts, combined harmoniously create Civitas or the Complete City.
The Res Publica is the realm which we all share together. It is much of what we draw our collective identify from. This public realm is composed of our streets, parks, squares and civic buildings. These items are the backbone of our community, our collective institutions. The streets need to be beautiful and enjoyable to be in, not just singular transport tubes. The parks, squares and other open spaces should provide a great variety of spaces for people to enjoy and socialize in. The civic buildings need to be the monuments that showcase the best of our city; they should be prominent and beautiful with a mass, scale and proportion proper for a landmark. Examples of these include churches (of which Beaufort is so blessed with), higher learning campuses (USCB Downtown buildings), schools (Port Royal Elementary), Libraries (Downtown building), Hospitals, and Government Buildings (New City Hall). Institutions bear the burden to provide these well-executed buildings and spaces as a matter of duty.
Investment into the Res Publica is the duty of the City, the business and the individual. Cities can and should provide value building, economic growth and preservation of land values with Public Realm investment. Business and individuals can and should also contribute. Their contribution can be simple things such as beautiful fences and gates, porches or porticos. Investment here is the greatest wealth generation tool in human history, more than any industry.
Res Privata is the realm of the individual private buildings. If the Res Publica is the bones, the Res Privata is the meat or muscle. These are simple buildings which we use on a daily basis and which form the bulk of our built environment. The typical house, commercial , industrial and agricultural buildings all fall within this category. These buildings should be economical to build and durable; they should reflect their region and collectively add to a City’s true nature and sense of place. Pattern, proportion and rhythm are the hallmarks of the Res Privata. Beaufort is blessed with fantastic fabric buildings; much of the historic core is of this type.
A city or place with both a well-executed Res Publica and Res Privata can become a Civitas, a Complete City. This means that these two realms are skillfully woven together and work in tandem. A great City cannot have a “zone” of one or the other. Each level of the City or place, down to the block level should have a clear sense of both these realms. Civitas should be our collective unyielding goal.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Beaufort Design Expo

The Beaufort Three Century Project, along with Historic Beaufort Foundation, are hosting an Architecture and Neighborhood Design Expo through the month of October. The 15 entries are on display at the Verdier House Mon-Sat. Check it out! Brown Design submitted two entries, one architectural and one neighborhood Design. Check out our presentation booklet!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Original Green: Thoughts on Input

Thoughts on original green:

The are two main sources for input into Steve Mouzon’s Original Green. Software (humans) and hardware (environment) and the method for their input or transmission is Steve’s “Living Tradition” theory.

Humans are, well, human, we have hopes and fears and we have cultural traditions. Places founded by Englishmen in the 1600’s are different than places founded by Spanish in the 1600’s. Places and buildings also take there cues from the human body in terms of proportion and order. Also, the human body (and animal) placed limits on distances that made sense. Much of Europe is covered with villages a days walk from the next, that’s not an accident. The human body gives us a measuring unit as designers.

The Hardware comes from the environment. It is how we design for climate, a hot humid place or building is designed differently than a building for a cold dry climate. Also, local materials dictate construction technology and methods, unless you want to ship things all over the world. Many cities will share a common color of stone, that’s because it was local based not a style based choice.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Original Green and the Lowcountry: Of this Place.

Original Green and the Lowcountry; Of this Place.

Beaufort and the Lowcountry is a very special and unique place in the world. We are very lucky to have a place like this and we need to be respectful of what we have. We also need to be respectful for the world we live in and realize that our collective and individual actions affect the world on a daily basis.

The things that make Beaufort and the Lowcounty what they are, are the things that I call “of this place”. These are the things that we all would collectively identify the Lowcounty with, things like a Live Oak tree or a deep comfortable porch or fresh from the river seafood. These things are part of the Beaufort DNA, they are part of all of us and come from our collective character, history, culture, natural and built environment.

Things “of this place” can not really be from any where else and together, they define a place. Beaufort has its DNA of place as does Charleston, Savannah and other great places. Many places, especially places built post World War II, really don’t have a nature or “of this place”. Those poor places are built from generic building blocks and are typically very auto dependant and hard on the natural environment. How many places have you been too that have the same section of streets with the same businesses and you really don’t have a clue if you are in Atlanta, Chicago or Dallas.

Beaufort has a distinctive DNA and has a great “of this place” going on. Much of the growth in the are for the last several decades however has been not of this place. That means that each time we grow (and I believe strongly in growth) we grow away from where we are and where we all want to be. We need to insure that our future growth can raise the bar and insure that our future lies with in site our nature “of this place”.

On September 15th, I will be among several who are hosting national know architect and author Steve Mouzon. Steve is widely accomplished and will be here in Beaufort to speak on his latest book, The Original Green.

The Original Green the book, is composed of four parts; Understanding the problem, What can we do?, How can we do it? And What can I do. Steve’s book does a fantastic job of tackling complex issues and breaking them down to real life solutions. He outlines true sustainability in the form of principals and then unlocks the mysteries of how we can really use those principals to effect real change.

One of the many core principals in the Original Green is growing the right way. Ways that promote a healthy balance of the DNA “of this place” as well as ways which can enhance the DNA of a place. Please join me for a wonder evening with Steve Mouzon, September 15th, 6pm at TCL on Ribaut Rd.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Beaufort Transportation Study

As many of you know, the Beaufort area recieved $3.1M in Federal grant money recently. The money is earmarket for transportation improvements.

USCB and the Lowcounty Council of Governments is conducting a study on public transit.

We need to begin to link our communities with some form of modern public transit and also continue to re-weave pedestrian oriented infrastructure into our communites. Most of the areas built post -1945 have little infrastructure such as sidewalks to support the simple notion of walking.

While this survey is soley oriented to public transit, please do your part by completing it AND also contact your local leaders to support us in rebuilding Beaufort into a place that has MANY transportation options for us all.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Our Position on Community-Centered Schools

From the National Trust: Worth a read not only for saving Historic Schools but what we are also advocating for new construction patterns and principals.

Our Position on Community-Centered Schools

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Squares of Savannah

The Squares of Savannah:
A Survey of Public Spaces

For the past year, we've been working on a book documenting the Savannah Squares. They are such a unique and lauded feature of the city, and much work has been done to study and catalogue their history. However, we found that little had been done to actually document their physical features and why they work urbanistically. This book aims to do just that by analyzing exactly how the squares were designed and what features they have that make Savannah such a wonderful city. This will be a resource for historians, architcts, urban planners, and anyone else who appreciates Savannah.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Carlton Landing

Starting a two day workshop for the Carlton Landing Team and Builders. Tour, Lectures and Roundtable sessions today and tomorrow.

Beaufort, Habersham and Newpoint are all such great examples to use for new development models and sustainable architecture.

It is so surprising that people travel to Beaufort County from all over the world and US to view its development models but much of what they are coming to see is still really illegal to replicate here in this county even after all these years.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Savannah's Whitfield Square

This is Savannah's Whitfield Square, one of the last Squares, being laid out in 1851. Sitting astride Habersham Street, this is a more residential scale square with the historic fabric being all two story forms. This view looks East on Wayne St.

Unfortunately, the North side of the Square is under siege by failed Modernist Buildings. This lovely six story (ca.1954) gem is vacant and decaying away. It sits next to a carefully restored 19th century simple rowhouse which, while very simple, is far better in its scale and proportion. Funny how only the good stuff gets restored.

Here is the other invader for the North Side of the Square. A wonderful 12 story brutalist tower. This thoughtful architect actually put the service entrance on the corner. Terrible.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


This is why we all work so hard to get all the little things right about architecture and urbanism.   When you get it right, people’s lives are enriched which is the reward that we should all be striving for. 

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Habersham Farms Project

Habersham Farms Project - The Beginning
Brown Design Studio, along with Moser Design Group is hosting a group of students from Andrews University for their Spring 2010 Semester. They will be writing periodically about their farm project for Family Farms Foundation’s Habersham Farms in Beaufort, SC. They will be designing a series of buildings for the farm, building one of them, and completing pricing sets for others, so that they’re ready for farmer Pat Gallagher to build.originally posted 2.3.10

February 3, 2010
We are students from Andrews University interning at Brown Design Studio and Moser Design Group from January through April 2010. One of our biggest projects during the semester her e in Habersham is the work we are doing right here in our own neighborhood. We are working with farmer Pat Gallagher, Brown Design Studio, Moser Design Group, as well as T&D Landholdings to develop an architectural scheme and plans for the local farm here in Habersham. The program for this project is designed to provide many things that typical farms do not including:
1) Provide fresh local produce directly to the community through a shares program;
2) Provide educational opportunities for locals, students, and interns to learn about agriculture and its history in South Carolina;
3) Provide a hands-on experience of the daily workings of a locally sized farm;
4) Become a center for other local farmers to share facilities, equipment, ideas, and techniques.
Our contribution as architects and planners is to design functional buildings that benefit the farm as well as contribute aesthetically and functionally to the community now and in the future. We aim to accomplish this through responsible and effective site planning, and through designing flexible buildings that can provide for a variety of uses that can evolve with the changing and growing needs of the community.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Habersham Farms Project - The Barn

Habersham Farms Project - The Buildings
Brown Design Studio, along with Moser Design Group is hosting a group of students from Andrews University for their Spring 2010 Semester. They will be writing periodically about their farm project for Family Farms Foundation’s Habersham Farms in Beaufort, SC. They will be designing a series of buildings for the farm, building one of them, and completing pricing sets for others, so that they’re ready for farmer Pat Gallagher to build.
March 23, 2010
The schematic design process for the Habersham Farm project is producing more refined drawings that are depicting the essence and ideology of Patrick Gallagher’s dream of a family farm – a place dedicated to promoting local, organic, sustainable agriculture as well as supporting small, low country farms. As architecture interns it’s our duty to assist Patrick in bringing his ideas for the farm into fruition, which is one objective that we are well on our way to accomplishing.
One of the buildings that will serve as iconic gesture for the farm in its later phase of development is the barn, which will be located off in the distance on the northeastern part of the site. The barn will serve as a terminating vista for patrons and visitors as they leave the homestead area of the farm to take a constitutional through the Gateway building into the fields. As a backdrop to the homestead the barn will hopefully evoke a sense of nostalgia in visitors – thus adding to the authenticity of the farm. One will also see the barn from Cherokee Farms Road, and once the new road leading into town is completed, it will be visible from there as well.
The barn’s initial purpose will be to serve as a repair shop and equipment storage for the farm. As the farm grows the barn will eventually house some livestock and be used like a more traditional barn. The fact that the barn will serve as a storage and repair facility is one of the reasons why it is set off from the rest of the buildings on the site. In other words, the barns purpose is to hide the daily messy utilitarian functions that can’t be performed anywhere else on the farm, while simultaneously acting as an icon for the farm.
To help design a barn that met the requirements of the program and reflect the local vernacular, a precedent study of South Carolina Barns was done. One form that was present in most of the barns from the precedent study was the gable front with sloping shed roofs on each side. According to the precedent photos most barns also had clerestory louver windows to ventilate the barns, which also helped with drying tobacco. After looking at pictures and other precedent studies it was then possible to develop a barn for Habersham Farm (as seen in elevation above).
he barn above is still needs to be further developed and refined, but the direction it’s going appears to be in tune with what the local vernacular and the program.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Habersham Farms Project - The Buildings

Habersham Farms Project - The Buildings
Brown Design Studio, along with Moser Design Group is hosting a group of students from Andrews University for their Spring 2010 Semester. They will be writing periodically about their farm project for Family Farms Foundation’s Habersham Farms in Beaufort, SC. They will be designing a series of buildings for the farm, building one of them, and completing pricing sets for others, so that they’re ready for farmer Pat Gallagher to build
March 12, 2010
The project for Habersham Farms has been developing quite nicely. Our group of interns has been working on a redevelopment of the master/site plan as well as designing some prototypes for the main farm buildings. There will be four main buildings, which are as follows:
1.Kitchen/Pavilion: the footprint for this building will be around 3,500 sq. ft.. The function of this facility will be to teach cooking classes and serve as a community meeting point for various activities.
2.Education/Gallery building: this building will be approx. 2,500 sq. ft. on two floors. It will contain a large space that will be used for educational and mass media gatherings as well as office space, a kitchenette, and additional storage space. The main idea for this building is that groups can come here to learn about the functions and history of Habersham Farms while also learning about farming methods for the South Carolina Lowcountry.
3.Bunkhouse/Gateway: this building is about 4,000 sq. ft.. It will be two stories and will contain a bunkroom with kitchenette upstairs with locker rooms and a main storage area on the ground floor. The hope is that the bunkhouse could house anyone, students or workers, who may be working at Habersham Farms for a semester or indefinitely. It also derives its gateway name because the building will consist of two sections on either side with an open middle porte-cochere on the ground floor. This will provide a visual axis and connection from the main farm area to the barn.
4.Barn: there will be a typical barn that will draw its character from many SC Lowcountry barns. It will house livestock as well as be a storage space for various crops. There will also be an area where machinery and equipment can be repaired.
There will be various other structures and small outbuildings which really make the farm function as it should. These include greenhouses, a windmill, and shading/storage structures. In addition, our group is designing a prototype vegetable stand that will be located on Cherokee Farms Road. From this stand Farmer Pat will be able to sell daily to those customers who desire fresh, ripe, locally grown fruit and produce.
This past Wednesday we had a review of this project with farmer Pat Gallagher, Patrick Kelly from T&D Landholding’s and local Habersham architects, Eric Brown and Eric Moser. We had a good discussion regarding the implementation of these designs. As this project moves forward during the next few months you can follow its progress on this blog.