In January 2012, the Design Team and the Civic Design Center invited stakeholders to the first in a series of workshops to gain insight from the community for the planning process of the Gaillard Center Arts Precinct. Stakeholders for the Gaillard Arts Precinct included members of the neighboring residential areas, Preservation associations, performing arts professionals, event coordinators, representatives from the Charleston County School District and the College of Charleston, and surrounding business owners. The Design Team asked focus groups several questions about the green space:
- How would you like to see the space used?
- What type of activities would you like to see here?
- What currently works best about the space?
- What needs to be most improved?
- How would you describe or envision the space?
We found a few common themes after asking these questions. Important aspects came up again and again: flexibility to accommodate multiple users and uses including performance spaces, plenty of green, open space, shaded areas, places to sit, a garden that “feels like a garden”, a variety of spaces and that the precinct be recognized as a place of civic significance for the community.
Additionally, five major “sections” or uses were identified. These included a buffer zone, a garden area for the Noisette roses, green space for a playing field and other recreational use, a promenade that serves as the primary axis to the Gaillard Center and a terrace in front of the Banquet Hall.
Following these discussions, the design team was able to adapt the plans for the Gaillard Arts precinct to meet more of the needs identified by the stakeholders.
Buist Academy was also defined as a stakeholder in the Gaillard Arts Precinct. Buist Academy is undergoing expansion and reconstruction as well and the Design Team and the CCDC wanted to commit to ongoing use of thre green space by Buist Academy, including a State-Required 80′ x 100′ field.
In February, the Civic Design Center hosted a workshop with 50 6th grade students from the adjacent Buist Academy. The CCDC worked with the teams to establish a clear set of expectations from the students at Buist Academy, as they remain primary users of the space. The students were grouped into teams to explore options to create the best possible environment for the users of the space. They requested plenty of green space, gardens and open space, water features, sculptures, places to sit to read or to have picnics, and many of the teams had several performance spaces scattered throughout the precinct. Teams of students brainstormed various uses for the space which include educational, recreational, aesthetic, and artistic and performance activities.