Fairfax & Sammons win CNU Award! Best for 10 acre green square - Marion Square, Charleston, South Carolina. For hundreds of years, the buildings around it have been designed in the classical style however after years of decline the result was a hopeless mixture of small, mismatched buildings, a gas station, drive-in bank and a parking lot where once stood elegant, classical southern colonial architecture. At the end of the twentieth century, the square was one of the least attractive and most used public spaces. Although the street grid was strong... the coherence of it was weak. The buildings along the corridors and connecting cross streets were decrepit or missing and there was little interest on the part of the private sector in investing in what was obviously a nowhere part of town. Demarcating a Gateway to the City The square is the first major urban open space one encounters when approaching the district.
By tightening up the urban fabric of the streets along and behind the square, and filling in vital gaps with a mix of retail, civic, office, residential and hotel buildings, we showed how the square could regain a sense of coherency and definition, and how the traditional urban grain of the surrounding streets could be restored, creating a vibrant gathering place, a destination for the local residents as well as tourists. Provision for a Blueprint for the Future The Vision of Marion Square is now an example standing for what the public had been asking for at civic architectural review meetings. In this city, particularly because of the historic style of its architecture, there is a schism between the man on the street who feels that modern style architecture in an historic district is being pressed upon them and the professionals and preservationists, trained in modernism who insist that this style is compatible in an historic infill project, all the while ignoring the current historic district ordinance.