COLUMBIA, South Carolina, March 29, 2022 – SSOE | S&W (www.ssoe.com), an internationally ranked architecture and engineering firm, announced its recent 2021 Building Team Award from Building Design+Construction (BD+C) magazine. The firm received the Bronze Award for its Charleston County School District’s Cooper River Center for Advanced Studies project—the seventh design award earned by the firm in the past year alone.
The award, announced in mid-January, honors the new 90,000 SF Center for Advanced Studies located in North Charleston, South Carolina’s growing downtown Business District. This facility is one of three regional career centers in the Charleston County School District and features state-of-the-art research labs, studios, and classrooms. The building also features specialty high-bay classrooms for HVAC, automotive collision repair, mechatronics, and building construction, as well as labs for biomedical and health sciences, cybersecurity, and ‘Project Lead the Way,” where students experience hands-on learning from teachers and members of the community. Additional spaces within the building include an administrative suite, maker spaces, a large two-story exhibition space, 150-seat lecture hall, nursing suite, the district’s audiovisual department, a career guidance area, and more.
With critical needs jobs accounting for more than 45% of the workforce in South Carolina and only 29% of people having the necessary skills to fill these essential jobs, this new center creates a unique opportunity for students to develop the skills needed to not only work in a technical field but thrive. The district worked hard to cultivate meaningful relationships with local businesses that will lead to a more robust job pipeline and provide students with better access to more immediate employment opportunities upon graduation. In fact, a major component of the building’s program included the creation of the Industry Partners Suite. The team designed a collaborative space in the administration wing of the center where local businesses and executives could work one-on-one with students, teach classes, or provide small-group clinics that align with the school’s programs. This rotating partner suite includes state-of-the-art technology and movable furniture.
The building team for this project—which designed this facility to accommodate programming that is typically only offered at the technical college or university level—consisted of architectural and interior design services provided by SSOE | S&W; design consultant services provided by woman-owned business and North Charleston-based architectural firm Red Iron Architects; civil engineering services by Hussey Gay Bell; mechanical, and plumbing services by Owens & Associates; structural engineering services by minority-business enterprise MMSA; electrical services by Critical Systems Engineering; general contractor services by McKnight Construction Company; and program management services by Brownstone Construction Group.
Two notable comments made by the judges on BD+C’s award panel included, “Excellent community involvement and collaboration,” and “A high-end interactive learning facility that engages commitments from corporations for learning. The learning elements are highly unusual, in particular the [Charleston County School] District’s ‘Project Lead the Way’ contribution. There is praise to be given for offering students a choice on life over college.”
When asked about this exciting recognition from industry-leading publication BD+C, SSOE | S&W’s Tim Williams, AIA, Principal-in-Charge and lead architect on the project, shared, “The design team’s ability to effectively collaborate with our client and leading industry partners was definitely the secret to this project’s success. It feels great to be part of bringing a facility like this—one that provides students’ academic knowledge and employable skills in a modern way and engages them in STEM-based careers early on—to the North Charleston community. It’s workforce development reimagined.”
SSOE | S&W has designed exceptional K-12 schools, workforce development facilities, and career and technical education centers for 100 years across numerous school districts. By working closely with each district and neighboring communities, the firm makes the most of client budgets by successfully incorporating today’s leading technologies and emerging trends to create sustainable environments that support learning at all levels.
On March 31, 2022 at 1 PM EST, BD+C will air a segment with members of the project team on HorizonTV (HTV), a video streaming channel focused on the U.S. construction industry that targets builders, remodelers, architects, designers, contractors, engineers, building owners, and developers. For the complete BD+C Building Team Award summary on this SSOE | S&W project, click here.