Civic

Columbia SC Visitors Center

Columbia SC Visitors Center

Columbia, SC

 

Situated at the northeast corner of Gervais and Lincoln Streets, the new Visitors Center is in the heart of Columbia’s West Gervais Historic District. Thus, design for the new building needed to both honor its historic context and provide modern amenities befitting a 21st-century capital city. Brick was carefully selected to blend with the uniform brick construction of the surrounding historic buildings, which include the 19th century Seaboard Railroad Freight Depot to its immediate east and rear (now Longhorn’s), the JE Young and Company Wholesale Fruit and Produce Company building to the southwest across Gervais Street (now Gervais Place), and the EA Beall Wholesale Groceries building to the south across Lincoln Street (now Liberty). The new Visitor Center’s “glass box” provides visibility to the building’s interior, welcoming pedestrians inside from both Lincoln and Gervais Streets. In order to preserve Lincoln Street’s historic canopy, this “glass box” is fully tucked beneath it. Solid massing of the building recedes to the back edge of the canopy overhang, but the new architecture never touches or engages this historic structure. Exposed structure and suspended lighting inside relate to the structure and lighting of the historic Lincoln Street canopy just outside.

The building’s orientation also enhances the visitor experience while honoring its historic context. A large planter and seat wall create a gathering space at the corner of Gervais and Lincoln Street, screen the service area of the adjacent restaurant, and provide monumental signage for the Visitors Center. This area serves as a gathering point for visitors embarking on guided walking tours. Orientation of the new architecture beneath the historic Lincoln Street canopy simultaneously makes it highly visible to pedestrian and vehicular traffic while maintaining sight lines down Lincoln and Gervais Streets. Historically-sensitive design for the new Columbia SC Visitors Center at 1120 Lincoln Street provides visitors a symbolic starting point from which to explore the city’s future, present, and past.
Photography by Kickstand Studio.