Williams Terrace

Architect:  David Baker Architects

Owner:  Don Cameron, Housing Authority of the City of Charleston

Location:  Charleston, South Carolina

Category One: Excellence in Affordable Housing Design Award


The first dedicated housing for Charleston, South Carolina’s, low-income seniors, Williams Terrace finally replaces housing that was lost to a hurricane in 1989. A collaboration between two firms that combined vernacular knowledge and expertise, the project delivers contemporary new housing that respects and honors the city’s historic fabric.

Working closely with the city’s housing authority, the team’s dynamic design meets the challenges of the site, which is situated in a high-velocity flood zone. The project echoes the iconic Charleston single house, with piazzas that function much like porches. These wide, open-air corridors provide external circulation and surround an airy central courtyard. Lined with ample seating, the corridors encourage interaction and extend the residents’ living space. Louvered shutters allow residents to adjust the amount of shade to their liking while creating an ever-changing façade.

On the ground floor, the building’s “screen porch” fronts a new public park that is directly connected by a shaded public sidewalk. While the flexible space does not include any built-in furnishings due to city requirements, it can accommodate a variety of events. To avoid flood damage, a community room is located on the roof and offers views across the park and to the nearby harbor.

Much of Charleston’s public and affordable housing stock located in the suburbs, so this project is an important step in addressing one of the city’s largest challenges: keeping longtime residents downtown.

Additional information

Design Architect: David Baker Architects

Architect of Record: McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture (Eddie Bello AIA, LEED AP, former Director of Charleston office)

Landscape Architect: Wertimer + Cline Landscape Architects

MEP Engineer: RMF Engineering

Civil Engineer: Forsberg Engineering

Structural Engineer: 4SE Structural Engineers


Simon Ha, AIA, Chair, Principal at Steinberg Hart, Los Angeles, CA

Kai-Uwe Bergmann, AIA, Partner at Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), New York, NY

Hans Butzer, AIA, Director at Butzer Architects and Urbanism, Oklahoma City, OK

Mary Cerrone, AIA, Mary Cerrone Architects, Pittsburgh, PA

Regina Gray, Social Science Analyst at Housing and Urban Development, Washington, DC

Rachelle Levitt, Director of Research Utilization at Housing and Urban Development, Washington, DC

Image credits


Luker Photography


Luker Photography


Luker Photography


Luker Photography


Luker Photography