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.