July 16, 2008
There’s No Escaping
Work has a way of catching up to us, even in the Low Country of Charleston.
It’s a copy of our magazine that the gentleman in repose holds. (Though his hand is strategically placed to keep the image current, we’ve pegged it as the May, 2006 issue, featuring Olafur Eliasson’s work on the cover.) While home with family in Charleston, South Carolina, during the July 4th holiday, I stumbled across this ad in a local publication. The subject is a handsome 1881 brick building—originally a cotton mill, then a cigar factory through the 1970s—that housed a branch of Johnson & Wales until 2006, when the culinary school decamped for Charlotte (which is in North Carolina, for those keeping track, and offered steep financial incentives). It has also been said that Charleston’s celebrated zoning and preservation laws kept J & W from expanding its South Carolina campus.
The loss of the school was a blow to a town that fancies itself a dining mecca. But I, for one, am happy the building will continue its run on this industrial edge of the downtown peninsula. The renovated structure houses offices, shops, and lofts. I’m not sure whether Metropolis was singled out for the ad because our ideology is synonymous with mixed-use planning and preservation or simply for the fact that our name implies all things urban—surely not because we embody the sort of ’80s loft chic conveyed by the informal slipcovers and the oh-so-casual lean of the mountain bike. If not for the Low Country landscape and the new Cooper River suspension bridge (with a bike and pedestrian path!) visible through the windows, one might mistake this scene for the Soho of yesteryear.