Catfiddle Street; Photo Credit: Kim Graham Photography
The ICAA's "Enduring Places" Conference; Photo Credit: Dylan Thomas
William C. Gatewood House; Photo Credit: Brandon Mitchell
The ICAA's "Enduring Places" Conference; Photo Credit: Kim Graham Photography
I'On; Photo Credit: Kim Graham Photography
Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk; Photo Credit: Kim Graham Photography
The ICAA's "Enduring Beauty" Exhibition; Photo Credit: Kim Graham Photography
Charleston Gaillard Center; Photo Credit: Kim Graham Photography
The ICAA's "Enduring Places" Conference; Photo Credit: Brandon Mitchell
Craftsmanship, Preservation, and Sustainability were at the heart of an unforgettable weekend
By ICAA President Peter Lyden
November 21, 2023
Against the striking backdrop of Charleston’s beautiful historic architecture, rich urban fabric, and thriving traditions of artisanship and design, 225 architects, designers, artisans, builders, academics, authors, students, and enthusiasts converged for a multi-day program that represents a pinnacle in the achievements of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art (ICAA). The ICAA’s national conference, Enduring Places, which took place from November 3rd to 5th, focused on themes of craftsmanship, preservation, and sustainability, and featured lectures and panel discussions led by renowned practitioners, film screenings and site visits that offered deeper explorations of Charleston’s legacy of architecture, design, and preservation, and tours of new projects that support thoughtful and contextual growth. A little over one week later I am still absorbing the profound impact of this unforgettable experience, which is without a doubt a defining highlight of my career at the ICAA. I am truly grateful to the ICAA’s dedicated staff for pulling off this event, particularly conference organizer and Vice President of Development Caroline Slaten. I am also thankful for the dedication of the ICAA’s Conference Committee: Russell Windham (Chair), Ankie Barnes, Andrew Cogar, Richard Economakis, Ray Gindroz, Alexa Hampton, Thomas Lloyd, Michael Mesko, Eric Osth, and Suzanne Santry.
The conference began with a marvelous Friday evening reception for Enduring Beauty, the ICAA’s exhibition of stunning works by students and young professionals, held in partnership with Historic Charleston Foundation at the Aiken-Rhett House. This exhibition, which will remain on display through November 26th, includes 60 works from 38 artists, chosen by a jury consisting of Emily Bedard (Foster Reeve & Associates), Tham Kannalikham (Kannalikham Designs LLC), Grahame Long (Historic Charleston Foundation), Edith Platten (ICAA), and Steven Spandle (Steven W. Spandle Architect). On a pleasant evening, it was a delight to open the doors of the historic property to over 200 guests and to behold the paintings, drawings, sculptures, metalwork, furniture, and other objects on display throughout. Additionally, thanks to the generosity of benefactor John F.W. Rogers, the artists and artisans received a travel stipend and were invited to experience the full slate of conference programming, and were available to speak with attendees at the opening reception about their practices.
The passion that the artists and artisans bring to the works on display is evident and inspiring, and their enthusiastic commitment to advancing traditional practices provides an optimistic view of the future. The exhibition is a testament to the invention and creativity that inspired practitioners bring to age-old techniques and traditional forms.
Gabrielle Schadt "St. Joan of Arc," The ICAA's "Enduring Beauty" Exhibition; Photo Credit: Kim Graham Photography
William Rushton, "Alessandro," The ICAA's "Enduring Beauty" Exhibition; Photo Credit: Kim Graham Photography
Jillian McEvoy, "Soda Fired Sgraffito Vessel," The ICAA's "Enduring Beauty" Exhibition; Photo Credit: Kim Graham Photography
Heather Personett, "Ashari," The ICAA's "Enduring Beauty" Exhibition; Photo Credit: Kim Graham Photography
Samuel Davis, "Seated Torso," The ICAA's "Enduring Beauty" Exhibition; Photo Credit: Kim Graham Photography
Piper Schaberg, "Sirius," The ICAA's "Enduring Beauty" Exhibition; Photo Credit: Kim Graham Photography
John F.W. Rogers and Tham Kannalikham, The ICAA's "Enduring Beauty" Exhibition; Photo Credit: Kim Graham Photography
Luca Keefer, "Dome of the Commonwealth," The ICAA's "Enduring Beauty" Exhibition; Photo Credit: Kim Graham Photography
Georgina Johnson, "Oculus," The ICAA's "Enduring Beauty" Exhibition; Photo Credit: Kim Graham Photography
Quinn McKay, Comfort in Complexity," The ICAA's "Enduring Beauty" Exhibition; Photo Credit: Kim Graham Photography
Benjamin Felix, "Corinthian Order," The ICAA's "Enduring Beauty" Exhibition; Photo Credit: Kim Graham Photography
Kevin Muller Cisneros, Portrait of Alex Katlan," The ICAA's "Enduring Beauty" Exhibition; Photo Credit: Kim Graham Photography
Michael Bursch, "Mumbai Hindu Temple," The ICAA's "Enduring Beauty" Exhibition; Photo Credit: Kim Graham Photography
Lara Saunders, "Johnny," The ICAA's "Enduring Beauty" Exhibition; Photo Credit: Kim Graham Photography
There could scarcely be a more fitting place for such an exhibition than Charleston, which has attracted practitioners from around the country and abroad to make vital contributions to the preservation and restoration of the city’s rich architectural and design legacy. The city has become a veritable training ground for wood carvers, stone masons, brick layers, metal workers, decorative painters, and so many more, and indeed the American College of Building Arts was established in this city to support future generations of practitioners (including a number of those whose work appears in the Enduring Places exhibition).
The ICAA has been delighted to share this story of the vitality of traditional practices in the original documentary film Craftspeople of Charleston, produced in partnership with Classical American Homes Preservation Trust, which features a cross-section of local artisans, architects, craftspeople, and historians. Among the highlights of the weekend, we were pleased to welcome some of the practitioners highlighted in the film—architect Glenn Keyes, wood carver Mary May, and preservation contractor Richard Marks—for a conversation about the past, present, and future of preservation and artisanship in Charleston in a conversation moderated by C.J. Lotz of Garden & Gun.
Other breakout sessions allowed attendees to delve into an array of fascinating topics, including sustainability, the development of new neighborhoods and communities, the contextual growth of Charleston, tackling the challenges presented by the rising water table, and architectural preservation. I had the opportunity to attend talks delivered by architect and urban designer Savini Rajapakse and landscape designer Sara Zewde that delved into each of their compelling projects around the world, which included growing communities and neighborhoods in Rose Town, Jamaica and Bo, Sierra Leone in Savini’s case, and the planning of new streetscapes in New Orleans, the reimagining of parkland in New Orleans, and the development of a vernacular gathering place in Monrovia, Liberia, in Sara’s. Each project offered a compelling look at what traditional approaches to design had to offer in addressing contemporary challenges.
Witold Rybczynski; Photo Credit: Dylan Thomas
Ray Gindroz; Photo Credit: Dylan Thomas
Hugh Petter and Eric Osth; Photo Credit: Dylan Thomas
The weekend was anchored by four featured speakers: Witold Rybczynski, author and 2023 Arthur Ross Award winner, provided insight into the development of a beautiful pocket in the city of Charleston; Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, principal at DPZ CoDesign, explored the intersection between traditional architectural languages and smart urbanism; Hugh Petter, Design Director at ADAM Architecture, reflected on the practice of developing beautiful mixed income communities; and Ray Gindroz, co-founder and principal emeritus of Urban Design Associates, shared his substantial experiences in listening to the needs and desires of communities in building and enhancing communities and new neighborhoods. Ray’s conception of the dwelling as a mirror of the self has stayed with me, and his presentation has reinforced my conviction that thoughtful, contextual, and beautiful homes and neighborhoods are vital to the health of communities.
And of course, during all of the weekend’s discussions, presentations, and screening, the unforgettable experience of meeting and socializing with our community of classicists amid such extraordinary sites is one I shall always treasure. Alongside wonderfully talented architects, designers, artisans, builders, academics, authors, students, enthusiasts, and more, we sallied forth to explore the inventive contemporary homes of Urban Ergonomics’ charming Catfiddle Street, David M. Schwarz Architects’ grand and inspiring Gaillard Center, the magnificent William C. Gatewood House, preserved and restored by Schafer Buccellato Architects (formerly G.P. Schafer Architect), which played host to a sublime dinner thanks to the graciousness of owners Ozey and Sarah Horton, and to the American College of Building Arts, where new generations of artists and artisans are being trained to ensure that the future of the built environment is in talented and capable hands. And that is really just the tip of the iceberg!
The Enduring Places conference represents a definitive milestone in the history of the ICAA, underlining our engagement with pressing contemporary challenges. The wisdom of the ages that forms the bedrock of classical, traditional, and vernacular design is a resource that is adaptable to new contexts, new expressions, and new applications. We may learn from the past, but let us build for the future.
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