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Robert C. Byrd U.S. Courthouse

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1993–1997, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. Block bounded by Virginia, Goshorn, Quarrier, and Truslow sts.
  • Robert C. Byrd U.S. Courthouse (Arnout Hyde, Jr.)
  • Robert C. Byrd U.S. Courthouse (Michelle Krone)
  • Robert C. Byrd U.S. Courthouse (Michelle Krone)
  • (Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress)

Originally planned on a more expansive scale, with a dome that would have been larger than the state capitol's, this federal building was scaled down after initial bids exceeded the General Services Administration's $61.5 million allocation. Even so, the building is one of downtown Charleston's largest architectural presences. It is also a remarkable example of Postmodern historicizing. Four giant-order Egyptian columns with fluted shafts and lotus blossom capitals form a shallow front portico on Virginia Street. Banks of windows are arranged in various groupings, but the overall impression is one of masonry everywhere. A broad, intricately patterned metal appendage, which the architects have termed variously a “transparent parapet” and a “crown-like parapet,” crowns the building. The “parapet” is intended to lighten the effect of so much masonry, but it bears little relationship, either in design or material, to the rest of the building.

Writing Credits

S. Allen Chambers Jr.

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