As architects in Charleston, we are students of history successfully meeting modernity and seek out those moments when homage is paid to historic structures with meaningful renovations for current day functions. During a recent visit to Rome, we found ourselves in one such transformation at the Palazzo Pulieri Ginetti - the Elizabeth Unique Hotel. An ancient palazzo, lush and thoughtful interiors by Studio Marincola Architects, art curated by the nearby Russo Art Gallery - it’s a wonder we ever left. The architects, interior designers, artists and craftspeople involved with this hotel design struck the perfect balance of honoring the historic vessel it inhabits while offering an environment that is somehow bold and restrained at the same time; the details were as powerful as the overarching effect. Bravo, we will be learning from this one for a long time.
As young architecture students exploring the streets of Charleston, sketch books and (SLR) cameras in hand, Rush and I knew we were walking on hallowed architectural ground. Charleston's best of times and worst of times were visible in her historic structures - some preserved as museums, some renovated for current day functions, and the less lucky, waiting for their day of restoration. It was, therefore, a humbling moment when one of our wonderful clients asked for our assistance with a renovation to 107 E. Bay Street, one of the 13 historic and connected structures, currently known as Rainbow Row.
"Excellent examples of early-eighteen-century wharfside construction, the dwellings along East Bay Street provide insight into the mercantile life of Charleston." [Jonathan Poston, The Buildings of Charleston]
Originally designed and built as stores on the ground level and merchant's living quarters above, these buildings served Charleston's port and directly fronted the Cooper River. (The water's edge at this part of town has since shifted away.) As row houses, they mostly share a party wall in between houses with private access to the residences from the rear alley. Subsequent fires, the effects of the Civil War and the earthquake in 1886, all gave these buildings scars, dark chapters and in some instances a complete rebuild.
"In the pre-Revolutionary period this was the site of George Flagg's paint shop, which stocked pigment and oils for the painting of Charleston's houses. After the structure was destroyed in the fire of 1778, Flagg sold the empty lot in 1791 to John Blake." [Jonathan Poston, The Buildings of Charleston] As evidenced in the photo comparison, the building was once had a hipped roof which was altered to have a gable parapet wall. Alterations through the decades are common place as buildings undergo repairs, adapt to new families and functions.
The entire Rush Dixon Architects studio is humbled to be a part of the team for this next generation of 107 E. Bay which includes the very talented design and construction stewards, Brett Elrod (C. B. Elrod Construction) and Cortney Bishop (Courtney Bishop Design). We look forward to updating you on construction and design progress.
Rush Dixon Architects is a solutions-based, contemporary architecture and design firm. Results driven, we create value for our clients through designs that are both strategic and artful, always keeping client goals at the forefront. We believe that modern design is not found solely in the materials, but rather through the pursuit of better spaces for living and doing business. It is truly a privilege to be a small part of someone's incredible journey. In this case it was the accounting rockstars (yes, that's a thing) at Accountfully, a fully outsourced, modern accounting firm in Charleston, SC that focuses on entrepreneurs, small businesses and start-ups.
They out-grew their current office space and were in the process of purchasing 533 Rutledge Ave. for their new headquarters when we first met owners, Meredith and Brad Ebenhoeh. Our scope included reimagining the existing first floor layout for optimum operational flow, function and brand alignment as well as assembling a Permit Set of documents for the City of Charleston to review and approve prior to construction. The exercise of taking this historic gem and ensuring a relevant, future chapter is one of the best things about being an architect in Charleston - designing how modern and current functions can exist and thrive within historic walls.
The collaboration that followed yielded a work environment tailored to how Accountfully functions: a beverage bar for both staff and clients as a welcoming feature, the generous meeting space, a mix of private offices and open work spaces. The impeccable taste and instincts of our clients perfectly captured the Accountfully brand.
“Rush Dixon Architects was a dream to work with on our downtown commercial renovation. As timing was of the essence, we needed to move quickly and they delivered! Their communication was impeccable and deliverables were high quality. Their knowledge and experience of working with the city was very helpful in keeping our project on track. More than that, Rush and Judy are incredibly sweet and down to earth. We are now happy to call them friends." Meredith Ebenhoeh, Accountfully