Friday, August 23, 2002

Under the direction of professors of architecture, Jori Erdman and Patricio del Real, graduate students from the Clemson University School of Architecture will undertake to study and redevelop the site of the Keese Barn in Pendleton, SC. The underlying idea of the project developed last year in the Graduate Architecture Program through a discussion series del Real and Erdman initiated called Southern Seminar. The Southern Seminar aimed to bring a greater understanding of the concept of "south" as a mode of critical inquiry into place, culture, and territory. Discussions addressed a variety of issues relevant to the topic of "south" including geographic distinctions, "south" vs. "the south," specific design considerations, expressions of culture, and community impact. Due to the success of this series, the professors decided to seek a community project in which to act on the issues raised.

The Keese Barn Project will extend the scope of the Southern Seminar by examining how these issues have manifested in our community. The Barn, noted for its role as a community-meeting place in the early 20th century, is currently in a state of extreme ruin and was scheduled for demolition summer 2002. The professors, after an initial meeting with Foundation President and Clemson professor Grant Cunningham, presented their proposal to the Pendleton Foundation for Black History and Culture, which owns the Barn, and received approval and a commitment of financial support for the project.

First Year Graduate students and Master of Architecture Thesis students will spend the fall studying the Barn's structure and history, work with the community on design proposals, and finish preliminary demolition. During the spring, work will primarily focus on design implementation, construction and summary work on the project. In order to allow students and community to work together to realize the final form and function of the project, it is left purposefully undetermined at this point. However, the professors have designed the process through which the students will address the task and are confident in the ability of all parties to come together for a project that will fulfill both educational and community goals.

The goal of the project is to reinvest the Keese Barn site with the meaning it held for the community. Through the study, design, and construction of the project, both students and community will engage an understanding of the role of place and the impact of architecture within small towns. While the School of Architecture will be donating labor, facilities, time and energy to the project, part of the students' assignment is to work and design in the most efficient and responsible manner. Only the integration and active participation of the town will re-invest this space with meaning. Given the significance of the structure for the Up-State, students and faculty trust that the community will step forward to help with equipment and materials and create a place they can call their own. The professors feel that this type of involvement between the community and the university is integral for the project's success.

Visit the Keese Barn at the Keese Barn Project Website