Buildings as History
From the cloistered simplicity of the nineteenth-century Horseshoe to the
state-of-the-art facilities at the Swearingen Engineering Center and the Koger
Center for the Arts, the colorful history of the University of South Carolina
can be traced in the buildings on its campus. There is a fascinating story to
be discerned, if we know where to look.
An historical marker erected on the Sumter Street side of the original
Horseshoe by the Columbia Sesquicentennial Commission of 1938 christened
Carolina the "faithful index to the ambitions and fortunes of the state." The
ebb and flow of those ambitions and fortunes in both the state and the
University are graphically reflected in the campus architecture.
The buildings, which range from the federal style of architecture of the
opening era of the institution to the sleek contemporary lines of impressive
new facilities, stand as a chronological account of a venerable institution
which has endured wars, depressions, sociological upheavals and technological
revolutions to emerge as a leading state university.
Equally important aspects of the story are the individuals for whom the
buildings are named, for they can be viewed as a barometer of the
institution's priorities over the years. Outstanding statesmen, scholars,
scientists, administrators, and business leaders, many of whom were alumni,
are honored here. This is one way the University has of saying, "These are the
qualities that we cherish."
The Horseshoe-Living Archaeology
The story of Carolina begins with the Horseshoe, the heart of the campus and
indisputably one of the loveliest spots in the city of Columbia. Composed of
11 buildings bordering a horseshoe-shaped drive opening onto Sumter Street,
it is the locale of Carolina's first half-century and must be viewed as a unit
if one is to appreciate fully its uniqueness and its beauty.
Ten of these buildings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Only McKissick Museum at the head of the Horseshoe has become part of the area
since the last of the ten buildings, Legare and Harper, were built in 1848.
The collegiate atmosphere of the Horseshoe, enhanced by quaint fanlight
windows, wrought-iron trim, large oak trees, brick pathways, and small gardens
cloistered within brick walls, belies the tremendous turmoil which these
buildings have survived.
Horseshoe historian John Bryan recounts that the "horseshoe concept" governed
the trustees' plans for the growth of South Carolina College virtually from
its beginning in 1801. An early diary notes that the original campus was on
a site that was very "recluse" for there were no houses around and the lands
were "uncleared and covered with lofty pines and wild shrubs." In this
setting, the trustees over a period of 43 years built a cohesive, balanced
design of three-storied structures dominated by the stately South Caroliniana
At the beginning of South Carolina College, a basic ground plan was approved
that resembled the Yale University dormitory design, which grouped suites into
a single tenement, thus subdividing the students into socially cohesive
groups. This plan was introduced into Rutledge and duplicated in DeSaussure,
Pinckney, Elliott, Harper, and Legare colleges.
The buildings were all made of brick, a locally available material which was
relatively inexpensive when compared to what imported stone might have cost.
Much of that brick may have come from the Guignard brickworks which are still
in operation today. In subsequent years, most of the brick buildings were
stuccoed and lines were scored to make the buildings look as though they were
made of stone.
Rutledge College, built in 1805, was the first building on the campus. For
its first four years, it housed the entire South Carolina College -
classrooms, library, faculty and student housing, chapel, laboratories, etc.
Rutledge weathered fire, an earthquake, and the Civil War, after which it
became the site of both federal and state offices. Similar fates faced other
DeSaussure College (1809) is the second oldest building on campus and the
complement of Rutledge. As with the earlier building, the wings were used as
residences and the central section served as academic facilities.
The President's House (1810) is considered by some to be the most elegant
building on the Horseshoe. It replaces the President's House which originally
stood at the head of the Horseshoe. Its remodeling after a fire introduced the
regency style of architecture to Columbia.
McCutchen House (or Faculty House) (1813) is one of three double-buildings
which were built as faculty residences. The early interior architecture was
described as "showing the taste of the times" and as a "simplified version of
sophisticated Charleston architecture." The Blacklock House on the College of
Charleston campus is believed to be the model. McCutchen retains its original
frame of hand-hewn timbers with plaster walls on wooden lath. In the
restoration process, the original window glass remaining was used on the east
side of the building.
Elliott and Pinckney colleges (1837) and Harper and Legare colleges (1848)
were part of a mid-nineteenth-century building program to provide for
increased enrollment. They are still primarily residence halls. The plainness
of the design attracted criticism from the local newspaper.
A favorite building of Horseshoe aficionados is Lieber College (1837),
designed as a faculty residence. Its architecture is close to English Georgian
house models. Part of its charm lies in the handmade brick which has been
spared the cosmetic effect of stuccoing. Its twin stairways and fanlight
doorways leading to a parlor floor mark it as a double-residence. (Note that
McCutchen also has its main floor above ground level - a prime example of
climatic influence upon architecture, in this case Columbia's hot, humid
The most architecturally distinctive building on the Horseshoe is South
Caroliniana Library (1840), influenced by Robert Mills, the nation's first
federal architect and the designer of the Washington Monument. From South
Carolina, Mills is noted as the first native-born American to train himself in
this country for the role of professional architect.
The South Caroliniana Library was the first free-standing college library in
the country, predating those of Harvard (1841), Yale (1846), and Princeton
(1873). There are sketches for the library in a manuscript diary by Mills
housed at the Library of Congress. According to Bryan, these drawings,
proposing a structure much more elaborate than the one eventually built at the
College, contain "the seeds of the library plan finally adopted by the Board."
There is strong evidence that Mills participated in the modification of the
designs that appear in his diary, and it appears that some drawings made by
Benjamin Henry Latrobe for the Library of Congress served as a model. (Mills
was working in Latrobe's office when these drawings were executed in 1808.)
Features of the Fireproof Building built in Charleston (l821-1827), the State
Insane Asylum erected in Columbia (1821-1828), and the Marine Hospital
constructed in Charleston (1831-1834)-all designed by Mills-suggest that the
South Caroliniana Library is, in Bryan's words, a "pastiche" including
"elements of several designs by Robert Mills."
The library is distinguished by its four enormous white columns and by the
"Bulfinch Room" on the second floor which was copied, including the unique
skylights, from the reading room that Charles Bulfinch designed for the
original Library of Congress.
Caroliniana Library and its early collection was considered President Robert
Barnwell's greatest achievement. In a way, it is a sedate architectural symbol
of the first half century of South Carolina College, when the most serious
concerns appeared to be the disciplining of rowdy students otherwise immersed
in the study of classical Greek and Latin.
McKissick Museum (1940) occupies the site of the original president's house.
Its style resembles that of several other structures built with Works Progress
Administration funds during the Depression.
The tales that architecture tells seldom die, though they are often covered up
or overlooked. During the massive Horseshoe renovation, 1972-1982, which
restored the ambiance of the mid-nineteenth-century quadrangle, it was
discovered that the foundation of DeSaussure College had originally been laid
out to be built about 200 feet to the south of where it now stands. That
original location would have placed the hypothetical extension of College
Street as the axis of the Horseshoe. It is assumed that at that time someone
had the foresight to realize that the location was not far enough away from
Rutledge College to allow for the impressive campus scale that was desired,
and DeSaussure was moved farther to the north. This explains why College
Street is off center in relation to the Horseshoe. It is interesting to
speculate whether or not that person might see himself being written about
almost two centuries later. In any event, the Horseshoe restoration is a
fascinating part of the story of the University's architecture, and more
material is available for anyone interested.
The Campus Expands in the Nineteenth Century
By the middle of the nineteenth century, the campus had already begun to
expand beyond the Horseshoe. Three of these early-expansion buildings remain.
The "Old Observatory" is tucked away behind the Administration Building and
little is known of it. Built in 1852, it suffered badly during the Civil War,
after which the telescope was stolen. It was subsequently used as a fraternity
hall and later as a practice school of the pedagogical department and for a
number of other purposes. One might speculate about how astronomy was taught
until the new observatory was built.
Longstreet Theatre (1855), now the home of the Department of Theatre
and Speech, was designed originally as a chapel and auditorium. Because
of poor acoustics it was never put to those uses, but instead served as
an arsenal and a hospital for both Southern and Northern troops. It was
later converted to a science facility and then a gymnasium. By 1976
Longstreet had fallen into "genteel neglect" and was close to being torn
down or collapsing. A restoration emphasized the Corinthian hexastyle
Roman temple design. The building is a virtual copy of the Maison Caree
in Nimes, France. A practical entrance was added to the rear, and inside
a stunning modern theatre-in-the-round was built, thus restoring
Longstreet to something close to its original purpose.
Flinn Hall (1860), originally a faculty home on the corner of Sumter and
Pendleton streets, was moved about fifty yards to the east in 1935 to make
room for the World War Memorial Building.
A New Era Begins
A glance at the building inventory of the University of South Carolina reveals
an interesting fact: for a period of virtually half a century after the Civil
War (1860-1909), no building was constructed.
This absence of construction reflects the devastation of the war and its
aftermath, which saw the institution reorganized six times because of the
political and economic upheavals. It finally stabilized in 1906 as the third
University of South Carolina, under the leadership of Benjamin Sloan.
The first building to be constructed after this hiatus was Davis College
(1909), which many alumni will remember as the former home of the English
Department. From that time until the Depression, seven more buildings,
academic and residential, were built, primarily in the eastern half (about
four square blocks) of the central campus. These were: Barnwell (1910),
Thornwell (1913), Woodrow (1914), Currell (1918, originally named Petigru),
Sloan (1927), Melton Observatory (1928), and Wardlaw (1930). They are quite
similar in many ways. They are all less than four floors high but were
designed to look impressive through the use of such elements as the columns on
Davis, Barnwell, and Wardlaw.
Most of these buildings are located in an area which several generations of
Columbians know as Gibbes Green. Named for Major Wade Hampton Gibbes, who
owned much of the land in the area, the green originally consisted of land
bounded by Pendleton, Bull, Pickens, and Greene streets. Acquired by South
Carolina College by 1838, the area was kept for many years as an open space,
serving as playground, ballfield, and park. It gradually deteriorated and
erosion and flooding occurred. In the mid-1970s it was extensively landscaped
in a Victorian manner, similar to Olmsted's Central Park in New York City.
Gibbes Green is one of the most beautiful areas of the campus, with its wide
circle of benches surrounding majestic oaks, its curving brick paths, and its
undulating mounds complemented by dogwoods and azaleas.
With the exception of some faculty housing which no longer stands, the
construction of Wardlaw College marked the first time that the campus had
"jumped" Sumter Street since Longstreet was built in 1855.
The University built Wardlaw College to be used as both a campus building and
University High School for training teachers and administrators. USC President
Davison Douglas had requested funds from the General Education Board of New
York, and was granted matching funds of $150,000. The trustees raised a like
amount by pledging tuition fees in advance. University High School opened in
1932. Until that time the School of Education had been the only one of any
Southern state not having adequate facilities, according to historian Daniel
The Prosperity of the Depression
It is interesting to note that almost as many buildings were built during the
Depression as during the period 1908-1930.
A world economic crisis occurred in 1929, the harbinger of the Great
Depression. Even before that, in 1927, state appropriations for permanent
improvements had ended.
On the one hand, the Great Depression meant severe financial constraints for
the University: President Leonard Baker reported to the trustees in 1933 that
the University appropriations had been cut cumulatively by 69 percent since
1929. Faculty salaries had been slashed, tuition raised, and scholarships
In one area, however, the University benefitted greatly from the Depression:
New Deal spending allowed building, renovation, and general improvements such
as the paving of walkways.
In 1934 a Civil Works Administration grant paid for repairs to LeConte, Davis,
Sloan, Rutledge, and DeSaussure colleges and other buildings. In 1935, New
Deal funding allowed expansion to continue: the football stadium, completed in
1934 with federal funds, with the University to assume the balance of the
cost; the World War Memorial, completed in 1935 and paid for by private
subscription and a Public Works Administration grant; Maxcy College (1937), a
portion of which was paid for by the PWA; Preston College (1939), 45 percent
of which was paid for by the PWA and the rest with dormitory-revenue bonds;
Sims College (1939), 45 percent of which was paid for by the PWA; and
McKissick Library (1940), built at a cost of $560,000, of which the state
contributed $335,000 and the Works Progress Adminis-tration paid the balance.
PWA and WPA designs were very similar to those built in the 1909-30 period.
Thus, fortuitously, the Horseshoe was surrounded by relatively low structures.
Columns still were popular, as evidenced by McKissick Library and Preston and
Sims colleges. McKissick is a prime example of the WPA Romanesque style of
architecture, and is duplicated in the library at Davidson College and the spa
at Saratoga, New York.
WORLD WAR II
Hamilton College, consisting of a naval armory and adjoining classroom
building, was completed in 1943; this was the only structure to be built
during the years of World War II - indeed, until 1950, except for temporary
structures. This building played a critical role in the history of the
University, for it was here that many of the extensive U.S. Navy training
programs were conducted during the war. According to Hollis, the campus was
"from all outward appearances, a naval base" open year-round, with classes
beginning before dawn during the winter. About 1,400 men were enrolled in the
programs, and the civilian enrollment of about 1,000 consisted mostly of
After World War II, student enrollment more than doubled, rising from 1,347 in
1944 to 2,693 in 1945. The increase caused overcrowding, for no new classrooms
or residence halls had been built since the 1930s. Because the Board of
Trustees feared a recession after the post-war boom, construction was delayed
until 1949. Hollis writes that classes were held at "all hours of the day in
attics, basements, and other hitherto unused quarters. Students were crowded
four to a room in the old dormitories on the Horseshoe."
When the expected recession failed to occur, building was resumed. Petigru
College (1950), the new law school, was the first building since Sloan College
to be financed entirely by State funds. An ultra-conservative president,
Admiral Norman M. Smith, refused at first to use the State funds until the
Legislature demanded it. A new administration building, Osborne, was completed
in 1952 and, while not as large, it was architecturally compatible with its
neighbors. Also completed that same year was a science building, LeConte
College (Old LeConte was then renamed Barnwell).
A Change in Style
During the war and afterwards, the University had bought most of the property
bounded by South Main, Greene, Sumter, and Devine streets. In 1953 it acquired
three new pieces of property: University Terrace, formerly a federal housing
project on the northern half of the square bounded by Marion, Devine, Bull,
and Blossom streets, which was converted to residence halls for freshman men;
two squares of land bounded by South Main, Devine, Marion, and Blossom
streets; and the Kirkland Apartments on Pendleton Street.
In the mid-1950s the style of architecture changed from traditional styles
heavily influenced by Colonial details, such as the cupolas and dentilwork
trim of Petigru and Osborne, to the flat planes and large glass walls of the
contemporary. The (then) ultra-modern Russell House Student Union (1955)
marked the beginning of a new era in campus architectural design.
Donald Russell became president in 1952 and was subsequently instrumental in
obtaining legislation allowing the University to issue tuition- and
dormitory-revenue bonds to finance permanent improvements. Besides the student
union, new facilities included McClintock residence hall for women, a men's
fraternity complex called McBryde Quadrangle, the Sumwalt College of
Engineering, Callcott Social Sciences Center (originally a business
administration facility), all added in the same year (1955), and the Rex
Enright Athletic Center (1956), a new athletic field house for varsity teams,
popularly known as the Roundhouse because of its shape.
This momentum continued under Robert Sumwalt, who served as president from
1957 to 1962. To accommodate increased enrollment, Baker and Burney (1958) and
Douglas and LaBorde (1962), all residence halls for men, were constructed,
coming to be known collectively as the Honeycombs, an obvious reference to the
veil-block facade which wraps the four buildings. They were the tallest
buildings on the campus when they were first constructed. Wade Hampton
College (1959) and South Building (1962), later named Patterson Hall, both
residence halls for women, date from this time. McMaster College, formerly a
public school building, was acquired during this same period (1960). The
Health Sciences Building (1962) originally was named Coker College and housed
the College of Pharmacy.
The most significant addition during Sumwalt's administration was the
Undergraduate Library (1959), which might be viewed as a monument to the
University's intellectual renaissance. Now known as the Thomas Cooper Library,
it was the first separate undergraduate library in the South and the third in
the nation, harking back to the tradition of Caroliniana as the first
free-standing college library in the country.
By 1970 it was obvious that the library facilities in McKissick were woefully
inadequate. Three additions were designed for McKissick, each of which was
vehemently rejected by librarians, faculty, or alumni. Finally, it was decided
to increase the size of the undergraduate library from 40,000 square feet to
286,000 square feet. Great care was taken to preserve the Edward Durell Stone
design, and few people today can see where the addition was made. Thomas
Cooper Library symbolizes Carolina's recommitment to academic excellence. An
architectural award winner, it incorporated recent advancements in library
technology and bibliographic instruction, while allowing the integration of
library collections previously located at five different sites on the campus.
(An interesting architectural note is that all of the buildings which have
housed the University's library collections, beginning century and a half ago,
are still standing.)
An Explosion of Students and Campus
The next administration, that of Thomas F. Jones, was the longest tenure
(1962-1974) of any president since Thomas Cooper. The physical expansion was
described as "awesome" by historian Hollis. Between 1961 and 1974, 59 new
buildings were added to the physical plant, more than had been built in the
previous 160 years. An even more impressive figure is that more than 3.5
million square feet were added to a physical plant that in 1961 had a total of
only about 1.5 million.
The year 1965 was possibly the most important year in the physical development
of the University. In 1961, enrollment had been 6,356 but by the start of 1965
it had jumped to 7,837. Lagging slightly behind national enrollment trends,
the University could predict future growth, although few people in their
wildest dreams could visualize that Columbia enrollment would crest at 25,992
It was apparent that drastic measures would be needed to handle the already
existing space shortages for classrooms, faculty offices, research labs,
student housing, and auxiliary facilities. Especially critical was the need
for additional land to handle the expansion. Therefore, in May 1965 at a
public meeting, the University unveiled its 1965-1985 Master Development Plan,
prepared by Dean of Administration Hal Brunton and internationally famous
landscape architect Richard Webel.
Because the University was blocked by the State of South Carolina and the City
of Columbia from expanding northward, the plan called for buying seven blocks
of economically depressed property to the west (with the help of Urban
Renewal) and acquiring about 18 blocks to the south consisting of depressed
and modest residential areas (using both Urban Renewal and direct purchase).
The Carolina Research and Development Foundation was created to allow more
flexibility in private purchases. Later, one block was dropped from the east
area and about 11 blocks from the south (now mostly developed as Wheeler
Hill). The scope of this massive program can be illustrated with figures: in
1961 the campus consisted of 103 acres and by 1979, 242 acres.
Expansion to the east was designed as the third step in the architectural
progression from the nineteenth-century Horseshoe through the early-
twentieth-century Gibbes Green to the ultra-modern, contemporary East Campus.
The design was based on a large, formal central mall with reflection pools or
square lawns to the sides, similar to the French approach. On either side
would be highrise academic buildings, white or sandstone in color and made of
natural or pre-cast stone. Each building would be purposely different but
architecturally compatible with the others. The result was the Humanities
Classroom Building (1968), Welsh Humanities Office Center (1968), Close-Hipp
Buildings (1973,1983) which house the College of Business Administration,
Williams-Brice College of Nursing (1975), and Gambrell Hall (1976).
Contemporary styles prevailed in all of this multi-storied construction with a
heavy emphasis on poured concrete facades, sealed panels of glass windows, and
flat, undecorated angular planes so typical of the period.
Both ends of the East Campus mall created problems. Capstone House (1967),
because it was built before anything else, was rather an anomaly with its 18
floors topped by a revolving restaurant. At the other end, the Pickens Street
bridge provoked an extreme reaction from students who were recovering from the
earlier Viet Nam demonstrations and had adopted the environment as their
cause. From their viewpoint, the bridge would allow a major roadway to divide
the campus, kill trees, and create a pall of obnoxious gas fumes. Today,
however, that bridge has proven to be a popular meeting place and a major
integrating element of the campus.
Because the University had acquired a number of old homes east of Pickens
Street, they were incorporated into the building inventory during the Jones
administration. The so-called East Campus now forms a quaint union of the
"town and gown" tradition, with high-rise academic buildings towering over
former one- and two-story Victorian homes, many of which have a tale to tell.
The houses range from the aristocratic Alumni House (the Georgian-style former
home of Miss Flora Barringer) to the elegant hacienda-style Spigner home now
known as the East Campus Center. There are many colorful stories associated
with this quaint neighborhood, a favorite walking place for University
employees on their lunch hour, just as the Horseshoe is frequented by
residents of the neighborhood. Forming a symbol of this eclectic union are the
lovely remnants (beams, fireplace mantel, etc.) from a home that is now the
art annex which were restored and used in the Donor's Room of Gambrell Hall.
That home is called Black House, after the family who lived there. Similarly,
1716 College Street is the former home of architect Robert LaFaye, who
designed many USC buildings.
Westward land expansion was required primarily for the construction of
Carolina Coliseum (1968). The old Field House which it was designed to replace
burned to the ground during the Coliseum construction, thus intensifying time
schedules and the need to build a new P.E. Center. The Coliseum was unique in
its ability to handle theatrical productions and with its labyrinth under the
arena containing more than 100,000 square feet of academic space.
The Field House destruction was fortuitous in one way. When the Jones Physical
Sciences Center (1967) was built, it was purposely designed to be expanded. On
the site of the old Field House, a sequence of additions were built:
Coker-Biology (1976), Coker-Pharmacy (1977), and Earth and Water Sciences
(1981). Together they contain 438,000 square feet-a science center of very
impressive size, with more growth possible.
The last building to be erected in the West Campus during this period was the
Law Center (1973). Its design represented the latest academic thinking: three
separate structures (auditorium, classroom, and faculty/library) were joined
together, with every classroom designed in a different configuration to
eliminate institutional stereotyping.
The 1965-1968 Master Plan visualized that expansion to the south would be
student- and sport-oriented. Russell House, which had been built in 1955 and
enlarged in 1958, started to fall far short of student activities needs, so a
second addition was made in 1967 and a large final addition in 1976. As with
most other campus building enlargements (i.e., those for Cooper Library,
Close-Hipp, and the science complex), great efforts were made to have the
final structure look as if it had all been built at the same time.
The Blatt Physical Education Center (built in 1971 and enlarged in 1975)
together with its adjacent playing fields and tennis courts, finally answered
long-standing needs of the University. Intercollegiate sports also received
attention with completion of the Roost residence hall (1968) and adjacent
baseball field, the Spring Sports Center (1970), and the new Stadium West Side
During the Jones administration, the University witnessed a revolutionary
change in demographics in 1963 when blacks were admitted for the first time
since Reconstruction. The increase in enrollment resulted in the construction
or acquisition of 10 residence areas: Carolina Gardens (1963); the 20-story
South Tower (1965), which at the time was the tallest dormitory in the
country; Moore/Snowden (1965), which completed the six-building Honeycomb
complex; Capstone House (1967); the Roost (1968); Bates House (1969); Columbia
Hall (1971); Bates West (1974); and Cliff Apartments (1974).
This building program increased housing capacity from 2,312 beds in 1961 to
6,513 beds in 1974. During the period, housing designs were radically shifted
from the old "central bath" concept to the suite or apartment style complex
reminiscent of the original Horseshoe.
Eleven years after the peaceful integration of the University came a
significant acquisition for the University in 1974: Booker T. Washington High
School, the first black high school in the state. Bricks from one of the
demolished buildings in the complex were used in the brick driveway of the
Horseshoe. The remaining complex still stands as a monument to a revered
educator, truly among the most remarkable of the namesakes on the campus.
During the brief presidency of William H. Patterson, inflation in the
mid-seventies caused some retrenchment. However, several important projects
date from this time: the expansion of Thomas Cooper library (see p. 36), the
Coker Life Sciences Building (1976) (originally Biological Sciences Center);
and Gambrell Hall (1976), the second building on the campus, after McClintock,
named for a woman.
A New Role for Carolina
The dynamic new role of leadership which USC has assumed under President James
B. Holderman is perhaps best symbolized by the two most dazzling buildings of
the last decade: the Swearingen Engineering Center (1987) and the Koger Center
for the Arts (1989).
The Engineering Center includes the very dramatic triangular
210,000-square-foot main building faced with Alabama limestone and more than
100,000 additional square feet of classroom and office space. A most unusual
feature for an engineering complex is an atrium in the center designed for
small concerts and receptions. Viewed as a reflection of a pivotal point in
our state's economic development, the center houses state-of-the-art
laboratories for research in computer technology, machine intelligence, and
other new fields, as well as traditional engineering fields. The center also
demonstrates USC's expansion southward into what has been a rather unsightly
industrial area of the city.
The Koger Center fulfills a dream that arts patrons in the state have shared
for decades. This building, which was designed with the aid of the eminent
theatrical consultant George Izenour and acoustical consultant Chris Jaffe,
provides an ultra-modern concert hall and rehearsal halls for world-renowned
performers as well as for the immense store of community and University
talents, ranging from symphony orchestras to dance corps. Its 135-foot roof
trusses spanning the entire concert area, and the five-story lobby wall
constructed of 126 panes of half-inch glass, each weighing 880 pounds, are
demonstrable examples of design and construction possible only with the
technology of the 1980s.
Another major new facility symbolizing Carolina's leadership role in the state
is the Computer Services Center (1981), which provides services to all
Carolina system campuses, many other state institutions of higher learning,
and more than 80 State agencies. One interesting feature in the building is
the "hollow" floors-movable sections of flooring throughout which allow access
to the cables and wiring at any time so that new configurations of computer
linkage can be easily accomplished.
Other facilities added in recent years included the Earth and Water Sciences
Center (1981) and a "bubble" field house (1981) covered with polyester fiber,
the largest of its kind in the Southeast. When Hurricane Hugo struck South
Carolina in 1989, the bubble was the sole structure destroyed on the Columbia
Contrasted with the contemporary design of these facilities are the historic
buildings acquired in the early 1980s, which house the School of Medicine at
the Veterans Hospital. The VA hospital was one of 50 similar hospitals
constructed in the 1930s. As with the Horseshoe buildings, care was taken to
preserve the exterior architecture while modernizing the interiors.
With the purchase of these buildings, it might be said that the architecture
of the University has come full circle, for they are described as Georgian
Colonial, very similar to the work of Robert Mills, who influenced the
earliest architecture on campus. The VA hospital was one of 50 similar
hospitals constructed in the 1930s.
Toward a New Century
The Columbia campus of the University has grown from one building in 1805,
with an enrollment of 29 (all male, all white) and a limited curriculum of
mathematics and classical languages, to 130 buildings, a diverse enrollment of
more than 26,000, and more than 200 programs of study which form the core of
the state's intellectual, economic, and public service activities.
The University soon will begin a new century - the twenty-first by the
calendar and the third in its history. No doubt its curricula will include
subjects that are undreamed of now, and the architecture will be as
drastically different from that of today as the Swearingen Engineering Center
is from Rutledge College.
And as it has always done, that evolving architecture will continue to tell
the story of our institution's role as, in the words of the Columbia
Sesquicentennial Commission historical marker erected in 1938, "the faithful
index to the ambitions and fortunes of the state."