UofSC architect honored for preservation efforts

University of South Carolina architect Derek Gruner was recognized last week with the Historic Columbia Foundation's Preservation Leadership Award, given to someone who contributes to the advancement of historic preservation in the region.

In bestowing the award, Historic Columbia's executive director Robin Waites said Gruner's leadership is instrumental in ensuring the traditional aesthetic of the school is retained even as it modernizes and expands to accommodate today's record enrollment. 

"Derek is a key player in the changing face of our city and a person who strikes a sensitive balance between preservation and development for the University of South Carolina,” Waites said. “He leads with an uncommon dedication to preservation and recognizes that the history of the university and the city are embodied in the built environment.”

Recent sensitive projects involving historic buildings that Gruner has helped shepherd include Patterson Hall, Hamilton College, the new School of Journalism and Mass Communications (formerly the old School of Public Health), Rutledge College and the restoration of the historic Horseshoe wall. 

“Our historic buildings create a campus which is unique and very much a part of the educational experience and timeless traditions at Carolina," Gruner said. "They can often be renovated and adapted to accommodate modern higher education, but historic integrity must be preserved otherwise we lose a legacy which cannot be replaced."

Gruner added that the lion's share of credit for the preservation projects goes to the individual members of the project teams who work tirelessly to make them a success. The restoration of Hamilton College also was one of a handful of projects singled out by Historic Columbia with a 2016 Adaptive Use Award. 

Future restorations Gruner and Carolina's project team likely will take on on include Taylor House, Horry-Guignard House, Barnwell College and LeConte.

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