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BAR Meeting - January 12

College of Charleston has its day
Warwick Jones, Editor

Basketball Arena on track for construction
Plans to construct a new College arena took another step forward at the BAR meeting on Wednesday evening. Conceptual approval has already been given by the BAR. Last night the College of Charleston was seeking "preliminary approval" for construction. It received it with modest praise and with some requests for modifications.

Drawings of the proposed arena were presented at a BAR meeting last year. The drawings accompanying last night's request were carried in the Post and Courier today but they look very similar to those presented earlier. And indeed there have been few changes.

The architect representing the College spoke of the materials that were to be used and some minor changes in the façade. Brick would be the dominating material and would be of a color to match the building that the arena adjoins. Metal panels would comprise the top section of the façade. The roof most likely would be off-white.

Of the concerns, it was probably the roof that caused most. This concern was raised in the previous meeting and by some members of the public. The roof is domelike and the architect maintains that it will not be very obvious from street level. This was not accepted by some members of the public present and was not totally accepted by board members. There were also comments that the building lacked symmetry, that it did not fit into the historic context of Meeting Street, and that some attention should be given to the location of utilities.

Although there were merits in all the comments from the public, it seemed a little late to argue for some of the drastic changes proposed. After all, conceptual approval had already been given by the BAR. As the architect indicated, symmetry was all very well but he was working to design a purpose building. There were other buildings on the site to which the new arena had to connect. And as far as the historic context, Meeting Street was a grand street in the past but most of the grand buildings had been torn down. And how do you make a basketball arena look historic?

Simmons Center for the Arts gets nod
The Simmons Center for the Arts received approval for construction of an addition and alterations to the existing building. The new addition will have a cast stone base with the rest of the structure being brick and of a color to match the existing building. There were some other suggestions of rather modest nature but generally the look of the planned addition was applauded by the BAR, and the approval by the BAR literally was applauded by some members of the public who were keen supporters of the Center.

Urban Outfitters' plans don't fit for Garden Theater
Urban Outfitters is the tenant hoping to open a store in the old Garden Theater at 371 King Street. The owner of the site made its second presentation before the BAR last night for conceptual approval of a change in the storefront and the addition of a canopy. It received its second rejection which this time was accompanied by an admonition.

The Garden Theater was built in 1918 and is a "landmark" building. The façade on King Street was described by the representative of the owner as being Beaux Arts, i.e. a mixture of classical, Greek and Roman style architecture. The new owner has gutted the interior but has done nothing yet to the façade. To accommodate Urban Outfitters requirements, the owned wants to make some changes to the façade. To this observer, they seemed modest but to Urban Outfitters it seemed a matter of "life over death" and to the BAR, "death over life".

The theater has a main entrance in the center of the building. On either side of the entrance there is presently a store, the entrances to which are recessed. The owner wants to do away with the recesses. (It is actually a little more complex but would take more words than you would care to read to fully explain). Urban Outfitters said that the adjustment was very necessary to successfully market its product. The BAR said too bad! This is a building that must be fully preserved and we will not contemplate any messing around with the facade if it is does not conform to the building's original design. And with very good photographs of the building in its original form, there can be no excuse not knowing the original design.