David Baker Architects

Williams Terrace


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Image: Kris Decker/Firewater Photography

Williams Terrace won the 2019 AIA/HUD Secretary's Housing and Community Design Award for Excellence in Affordable Housing Design. This singular nation-wide award recognizes architecture that demonstrates overall excellence in terms of design in response to both the needs and constraints of affordable housing.

View from the south. Image: Chris Luker

The inspiration motivating the Charleston Housing Authority.

Williams Terrace Senior Housing is the first dedicated housing for low-income seniors in the city of Charleston, South Carolina. DBA collaborated with local firm McMillan Pazdan Smith to create this gracious senior building, which finally replaces affordable family housing destroyed in a 1989 hurricane.

The design team worked closely with the Housing Authority of the City of Charleston to create a dynamic building that meets the challenges of the site—located in a high-velocity flood zone—and respects the gracious built fabric of downtown historic Charleston.

The building features external circulation—deep porches that create opportunities for connection and are lined with exterior seating to encourage interaction among the residents. The building’s units, porches, and rooftop terrace community room enjoy views across the new park toward the Charleston harbor.

 
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The courtyard is ringed by porches that are inspired by the Charleston's traditional single house "piazzas." They function as shelter, social spaces, and open-air circulation. Image: Chris Luker

View of the central entry courtyard from an upper-level porch. Image: Chris Luker

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The fifth-level community pavilion tops Williams Terrace's housing and breakaway ground floor. Image: Chris Luker

Gadsdenboro Park

The building’s ground-level “screen porch” fronts the new public park and connects directly to it via a shaded public sidewalk. This allows for an active ground floor despite the City requirement that no permanent uses can be located at ground level. The restriction arises from the  being a flood zone, with a velocity component, so all at-grade uses need to be impermanent and able to be swept away cleanly in case of a hurricane.

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Wide porches that double as circulation offer places to sit, meet in passing, and personalize a bit of outdoor space. Image: Chris Luker

Diagram: The open porch circulation is a traditional Charleston Single House element, known as a piazza.

Piazzas

Charleston "Single Houses" are characterized by their open-air piazzas, which function in a similar way to porches. For the corridors of Williams Terrace, we interpreted this concept with wide, open-air corridors that function as gathering and social space for the senior residents.

The courtyard is ringed by wide porches inspired by Charleston's traditional single house "piazzas." The porches are dotted with wooden rocking chairs and have movable slatted shades to protect from the sun over the course of the day. Image: Chris Luker

Diagram: Sliding shutters will provide adjustable shading for the multi-level circulation porch. Image: David Baker Architects

Sliding louvers help manage sun. Image: Chris Luker

Shutters

Taking a cue from the historic louvered shutters found on Charleston’s piazzas, we included sliding screens to allow residents to adjust the amount of shade desired. These dynamic louvers make for an ever-changing façade. The lime-washed brick exterior offers another connection with Charleston’s historic past.

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The rooftop terrace overlooks a new park, with views out to the Cooper River and the Arthur Ravenel Bridge. Image: Chris Luker

Diagram: The community room and terrace are located on the roof to comply with the flood zone and maximize the views. Image: David Baker Architects

The rooftop terrace community room offers sheltered rockers with park and river views. Image: Chris Luker

Rooftop Terrace

To avoid flood damage, the community room is located on the roof, which frames wonderful views across historic Charleston.

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Third-level plan. Image: David Baker Architects

Image: Chris Luker

Shotgun Apartments

The one bedroom apartments are version of the southern "shotgun" typology: living areas fronting the circulation porches, the "piazzas", with bedrooms facing out. This allows for great social interaction for the senior community, and through ventilation in every unit.

Apartments connect to the wide circulation porches, which have room for some personal touches. Image: Chris Luker

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Site plan. Image: David Baker Architects

Image: Chris Luker

22 Laurens Street. Image: Chris Luker

A "breakaway" event space on the ground floor can be set up for events, but has no fixed furnishings, so that it can manage stormwater in case of a hurricane. Image: Chris Luker

DIAGRAM 03 The residential walls are clad in traditional lime washed brick.

The "breakaway" ground floor has slatted walls to manage water flow in case of a hurricane. Image: Chris Luker

Lime Washed Brick

The exterior is clad in lime-washed brick, a traditional Charleston material.

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Aerial view of Williams Terrace Senior Housing. Image: McMillan Pazdan Smith

Image: Kris Decker/Firewater Photography

View from the south. Image: Chris Luker

Williams Terrace from Washington Street to the west. Image: Chris Luker

The courtyard is ringed by porches that are inspired by the Charleston's traditional single house "piazzas." They function as shelter, social spaces, and open-air circulation. Image: Chris Luker

The fifth-level community pavilion tops Williams Terrace's housing and breakaway ground floor. Image: Chris Luker

View across the busy new Gadsdenboro Park. Image: Chris Luker

22 Laurens Street. Image: Chris Luker

View of the central entry courtyard from an upper-level porch. Image: Chris Luker

The courtyard is ringed by wide porches inspired by Charleston's traditional single house "piazzas." The porches are dotted with wooden rocking chairs and have movable slatted shades to protect from the sun over the course of the day. Image: Chris Luker

Image: Chris Luker

The courtyard, garage, and pavilion are located on the ground level, designed as a "breakaway" sacrificial zone for potential 10-foot high-velocity floods. Image: Chris Luker

Sliding louvers help manage sun. Image: Chris Luker

Wide porches that double as circulation offer places to sit, meet in passing, and personalize a bit of outdoor space. Image: Chris Luker

Apartments connect to the wide circulation porches, which have room for some personal touches. Image: Chris Luker

Image: Chris Luker

The rooftop terrace overlooks a new park, with views out to the Cooper River and the Arthur Ravenel Bridge. Image: Chris Luker

The rooftop terrace community room offers sheltered rockers with park and river views. Image: Chris Luker

Whitewashed brick is a traditional Charleston material. Image: Chris Luker

The "breakaway" ground floor has slatted walls to manage water flow in case of a hurricane. Image: Chris Luker

Image: Chris Luker

A "breakaway" event space on the ground floor can be set up for events, but has no fixed furnishings, so that it can manage stormwater in case of a hurricane. Image: Chris Luker

Aerial view of Williams Terrace Senior Housing. Image: McMillan Pazdan Smith

A newly renovated park will be a showpiece for this hurricane-damaged neighborhood. Image: David Baker Architects

View from the corner of Laurens and Washington streets. Image: David Baker Architects

View from Laurens Street. Image: David Baker Architects

View from the corner of Washington and Inspection streets. Image: David Baker Architects

The building is organized around a courtyard with multi-level open-air circulation. Image: David Baker Architects

The base of the building features a community "screen porch" fronting the new park. Image: David Baker Architects

Open circulation and community porches create opportunities for connection, addressing the concern of isolation common to senior housing. Image: David Baker Architects

The rooftop terrace and community room overlook the new park and offer views out toward Charleston's harbor. Image: David Baker Architects

Diagram: Composite. Image: David Baker Architects

Diagram: The open porch circulation is a traditional Charleston Single House element, known as a piazza.

Diagram: Sliding shutters will provide adjustable shading for the multi-level circulation porch. Image: David Baker Architects

DIAGRAM 03 The residential walls are clad in traditional lime washed brick.

Diagram: The community room and terrace are located on the roof to comply with the flood zone and maximize the views. Image: David Baker Architects

An early concept sketch by David Baker. Image: David Baker Architects

An early ground-level plan sketch by David Baker. Image: David Baker Architects

Sunshade analysis.

Roof plan. Image: David Baker Architects

Third-level plan. Image: David Baker Architects

Site plan. Image: David Baker Architects

Williams Terrace as it relates to the park and the harbor.

Concord Park plan.

The inspiration motivating the Charleston Housing Authority.

Mayor Riley turning some dirt at the Williams Terrace Senior Housing groundbreaking ceremony.

Williams Terrace under construction, as seen from the south. Image: Matt Coda/Vive Media Aerial Photography

The McMillan Pazdan Smith team at the Williams Terrace Senior Housing groundbreaking ceremony.

awards

Honor Award
AIA Birmingham
Merit Award for Residential Design
AIA California
Excellence in Affordable Housing Design
AIA/HUD Secretary's Housing and Community Design Award

project details

Category

Affordable Housing, All Projects, Apartments, Current Work, Senior Housing

​Location

Charleston, South Carolina

Architect of Record

McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture

Developer

Housing Authority of the City of Charleston

Design Architect

David Baker Architects

Landscape Architect

Wertimer + Cline Landscape Architects

Contractor

GSC Construction Inc.

Permalink

www.dbarchitect.com/WilliamsTerrace

project data
Williams Terrace 21216
Charleston, South Carolina
Completed May 2017
number of units
1 bedroom 41
total 41
density ratios
project sf 47,851
site sf 18,274
acres 0.42
total bedrooms 41
bedrooms/acre  97.61
units/acre  97.61
parking
total 22
garage 13
street 9
spaces/unit 0.53