The $51.5-million, 64-acre Carolina First Campus in Greenville, S.C., rose on a former textile mill site that had undergone site remediation for a number of years to clean up toxins left behind by the old fiber manufacturing facility.

Photo Courtesy The Harper Corp.
Photo Courtesy The Harper Corp.

Carolina First Bank’s master plan for the site was to create a people’s park from which buildings spring as if organically one with the environment.

In the center lies the public building of Carolina First Bank, the University Center and meeting spaces of the campus. While the plan is symmetrical about the central conference center, the public spaces create a balanced asymmetry in their design. Likewise, each building is expected to be different but similar in that each respects the public realm into which it is placed.

Harper Corp. began its work in September 2006 and completed it on time and under budget in November 2009.

Challenges included finding unexpected underground concrete structures during excavation of a detention pond. Harper also performed a ground-penetrating radar test to determine the depth of some of the structures. The company demolished some of them, and at the same time, the design team redesigned the shape and depth of the buildings to reduce the effect on the underground structures.

During preconstruction, the team decided to use a lighter-weight steel beam, which led to stringent tolerances during slab pours. The reduced steel weight allowed Harper to have up to 8 in. of wet concrete on any one area of the slab, necessitating a heightened level of awareness during the pour. The project team kept an engineering crew on top of the slab and the floor beneath to check every square inch of the structure to ensure that it did not experience excess deflection.

The campus is on target to receive LEED-Gold Core & Shell certification.

Seven major water features—water walls, reflecting pools and cascading pools—surround the main buildings at the core of the project. More than 1,200 new trees were planted at the campus.

Centralized control systems monitor and manage the HVAC system, interior and exterior lighting, access controls, security cameras, irrigation and water feature operation. Harper recycled nearly 95% of the construction debris.

Key Players

Owner: Carolina First
Contractor: The Harper Corp., Furman Co.
Architects: Cooper Carry Architects
Engineers: Gray Engineering, Britt, Peters & Associates, Barrett Woodyard