Modern Charleston: Cannonborough/Elliotborough Neighborhood

Today's post is light on words and heavy on pictures.  

In a recent discussion with my mom about the blog, she asked "Is your blog only going to be about modern architecture?"  It was kind of in that accusatory tone where you know that you've done something wrong.   And before I could answer she followed up with "Does LS3P (my firm) only design modern buildings?" I felt like she was interviewing me for a job and I definitely was not going to get said job.  

So that got me thinking.  Maybe this week should be dedicated to modern architecture?.....I'm a big fan of themes and definitely appreciate modern design.  And so it was.....In honor of my mom, and perhaps in a passive-aggressive fit of rebellion, I am dedicating this week to modern architecture. Take that mom!  

Charleston is a town known for its historic architecture, fine cuisine and southern hospitality. But if you look hard enough, you will discover a few modern things snuck into the mix.  In fact our new neighborhood, Cannonborough/Elliotborough is slowly becoming a breeding ground for these little modern happenings.

This is a photo diary taken while walking our dog, Buckminster.  Enjoy!


Private Residence

Architect:  AJ Architects

A friend of mine commented that this house appeared to be pulled straight out of Dwell magazine.  Indeed!

Xiao Bao Biscuit Restaurant

Architect:  Studio A

Looking for a unique and delicious meal that is a little off the beaten path?  Xiao Bao Biscuit is where it's at.  They describe their cuisine as Asian comfort food.  Ummm...yes please!  

Xiao Bao Mural.  David Boatwright is the king of Charleston murals.  If you see a mural downtown then there is a good chance it was Mr. Boatwright.  This is a mural of Sun Wukong (aka the powerful Monkey King from the Chinese novel The Journey to the West).

Xiao Bao Lattice

Turns out I couldn't take a bad picture of Xiao Bao.

Another great Xiao Bao pic.

The lattice at the windows provides screening for the windows, which ultimately lowers the cooling costs.  It also provides a great effect at night.

At night the lattice provides a stunning lantern effect.

Fuel Restaurant

Architect: Unknown

A block down from Xiao Bao is the Fuel Restaurant.  Both Fuel and Xiao Bao are former gas stations.  The re-use of one type of building for a new use is referred to as adaptive re-use.  

I have heard that back in the day, this part of town was called gas station alley.  Prior to the construction of interstate 95, travelers would often drive through this part of Charleston on their voyage South.  Hence, the prevalence of gas stations in this part of town.

Fuel Restaurant

If you took out the modern vehicles, this photo could be taken from the 50's.  This restaurant has that classic mid-century modern feeling.  It looks like it was straight out of an Edward Hopper painting.

Former Fuzzco Location

Architect: Thompson Young Design

This is a simple little storefront renovation by John Thompson and Simmons Young of Thompson Young Design.  Remember that modern rule:  "less is more."  These guys nailed it.


Sister Houses

Architect: Unknown

Groupings of very similar or identical houses are often called 'Sister Houses.'  These 3 sisters are pretty traditional on their front elevations but are a bit modern on their sides and back.  In a ways, this is the architectural version of the infamous mullet haircut.  Business in the front, party in the back!

Business in the front.

Party in the back.  That single slope roof is referred to as a shed roof.

Brown's Court Bakery

Architect:  Unknown

Brown's Court Bakery is another project that is rocking the architectural mullet.  Business in the front, party in the back!  From the street it appears to be your typical Charleston Single House.  In the back there is a small glassy modern addition.  Fans of modernism would refer to this modern addition as a 'modern intervention.'  Opponents of modernism would refer to this as a 'modern parasite.'  Or they might say that it belongs in Charlotte, Atlanta or Houston.

The Single House is the most common and iconic housing style in Charleston.  It is a long and skinny house that is one room wide and features a linear porch referred to as a piazza that is located on the Southern or Western side of the house.  The Single House is very sustainable in its layout.  All rooms get cross ventilation, adequate daylight and the harshest sun exposures are protected by the piazza. I plan to write a blog dedicated to the Single House.

Brown's Court Bakery Front.  This typology of house is referred to as the Charleston Single House.

Brown's Court Bakery Back.  Party in the back!

Midtown of Charleston Development

Architect: Neil Stevenson Architect

The Midtown Development is probably the largest group of modern architecture in Charleston.  These houses are all modern interpretations of the Charleston Single House.

Check out that house down on the end with the shed roof.

Midtown of Charleston

Midtown of Charleston

Midtown of Charleston.  I dig those flower baskets.  Pun intended.

Midtown of Charleston

The Cantilevered Balcony

Architects: Unknown

Here are examples of traditional buildings that have been renovated to incorporate some modern details.  In an effort to save space, these houses have cantilevered balconies that appear to float.  I feel like I've already talked about the cantilever too much on this site.  But it is a favorite of modernists.

Cantilevered balcony.

Elliotborough Mini Bar.  This is our neighborhood watering hole.  Great spot!

Art Galleries

Architects:  Unknown

These last 2 buildings are not modern by any stretch of the imagination.  They are both art galleries and both feature very large panes of glass at the ground floor storefront.  The art work is prominently displayed in the windows which creates a sort of 'sidewalk gallery' effect. In essence, the artwork has become an important component of the building facade, which is why I felt they were both appropriate for this blog.

There are a ton of art galleries in Charleston, although a majority of those galleries will be found South of Calhoun Street and in the French Quarter neighborhood.  We are lucky to have 2 contemporary art galleries in our neighborhood!

Sanavandi Gallery on Spring Street

The George Gallery on Bogard Street

The George Gallery, Piece by Paul Yanko

And that wraps up this week's tour of Cannonborough/Elliotborough.  If you are mad at me for rebelling against my mom, heart I am a momma's boy and I am already working on a post about the historic architecture of the South of Broad neighborhood...for my mom.

Sorry Mom!