MCALISTER HALL DORMITORY AT COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON

MCALISTER HALL DORMITORY AT COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON

McAlister Hall occupies a corner site in the historic district of downtown
Charleston. It is located on the edge of campus, adjoining a small-scale residential
neighborhood that is particularly sensitive to the College’s encroachment. Because
of the proximity of the project to the neighborhood, this large building has been
broken into four smaller sites of varying heights, materials, plan geometries and
detailing, giving the aggregate a more community-like composition rather than an
endless wall. The “pieces” of McAlister Hall connect continuously with porch-like
walkways around an open-air courtyard, directing the student energy inward and
away from the neighborhood. Retail areas and a small restaurant are located on
the ground level of the facility.

Since the City encourages buildings to show activity at the ground level, a plan
was devised to open the courtyard visually to the street without compromising the
security of the students. Breaks occur between the different pieces of the building
and other openings along the street walls, revealing the courtyard and its activity
through the safety of wide openwork metal gates. The building’s principal student
entrance is in the south elevation at the terminus of a major campus thoroughfare,
away from street traffic.

The traditional cornices found throughout the city were abstracted into the deep
overhanging metal projections that define the top of the building. The detailing
of the brick portions and the use of traditional stucco and ironwork show the
building’s allegiance to the historic district while maintaining a decidedly
contemporary stance.