Wednesday May 22, 2024

USC Campus Village Brings Home Historic Columbia Award

The University of South Carolina’s Campus Village was recognized by Historic Columbia Foundation for their efforts to bring new student housing construction into a historic district.

The University of South Carolina’s Campus Village stands as exceptional quality new construction in concert with adjacent historic neighborhoods. It is an exemplar of the university’s design guidelines which are rooted in its rich architectural heritage. The master plan emerged after a year-long university led collaboration with the neighborhoods. The success of that collaboration is now being experienced. Opened in August of 2023, it is the first stage in a multi-phased development with the goal of transforming an area of South campus into a vibrant, community-oriented place for students to call home. The first phase of this project includes four residential hall buildings totaling 1,808 beds, a welcoming dining hall, a Starbucks coffee shop, a convenience store, a Transportation Hub, and versatile multi-purpose learning and academic support spaces. Campus Village provides students with a wide range of features and amenities designed to build strong communities by fostering shared academic and social development. A pedestrian promenade links students to the rest of campus and north to the historic horseshoe and academic core. The buildings are organized to create a series of interconnected outdoor spaces with massing strategies and details to respect the character of the adjacent neighborhoods.

As the largest state capital project completed to date, Campus Village fosters a dynamic community-oriented environment for students while enhancing connectivity. The final design with vision from the University leadership, incorporates input from neighborhood groups and the City of Columbia Planning Department. The six-story red brick masonry buildings are set among ample greenspace and courtyards, anchored by the pedestrian promenades and a landmark clocktower. The primary pedestrian promenades follow and recall the original city grid. City spirit and gamecock branding were married to foster a sense of community and connection. In particular, the interior design draws inspiration from elements of the city’s history to instill a sense of place and frames views to city landmarks such as the State House and mill smokestacks.

The architectural character balances the project’s program goals, the university’s design guidelines, and the fabric of the nearby neighborhoods. Situated adjacent to the Hollywood/Rose Hill Community Character district and the Wales Garden Historic District, the University selected a blended red brick palette over its typical buff color in homage to the neighborhood. With timeless and carefully detailed masonry, each building features a well-portioned base, middle and top and vertically proportioned windows with traditional mullion patterns. This vocabulary is all found in the National Register Old Campus District composed of buildings that surround USC’s iconic horseshoe. Other features included projected window bays, deeply recessed windows, deep roof soffits articulated with brackets located in harmony with the window bays, and traditional site walls and fencing. With larger windows and expanses of storefront, the ground level connects the outdoor gathering spaces with welcoming interior lounges and amenities including a community-oriented Starbucks.

Formerly a block and a half of surface parking, the project also reflects the university’s commitment to sustainability and responsible development. Significant street trees were preserved. While enriching the campus and neighborhood, this project earned Two Green Globes certification with a focus on reducing stormwater runoff, lower energy and water usage, optimized health and wellness benefits, local materials (most notably the locally manufactured brick) and minimized waste. In summary, the University of South Carolina’s Campus Village makes a unique contribution to the city through its sensitive design of a particularly large and complex project and its commitment to enduring quality.

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