Location Greenville, SC
Size 405,000 ft²
Program Two-phase urban infill commercial development with retail, classroom, and office space
Developer Hughes Development Corporation
Project Architect 4240 Architecture
General Contractor Brasfield & Gorrie
Structural Engineer Uzun & Case Engineers
MEP Engineer Barrett, Woodyard & Associates
Landscape Architect CIVITAS
Sustainability Consultant YR&G
Greenville, South Carolina, has been many things throughout its history, the “textile capital of the world,” among them. Today, according to fDi Intelligence, it is America’s No. 1 “microcity”—a city with less than 100,000 residents—a designation bestowed on it two years in a row in 2009 and 2010. Economic potential, quality of life, and infrastructure all factored into the rankings, yet it’s Greenville’s commitment to sustainability and urban renewal that has set it apart since the 1960s.
Like many American cities, Greenville experienced a dual suburban boom and urban decline in the latter half of the 20th century. But unlike many of its peers, Greenville quickly realized the importance of a thriving urban core. In the 1970s, Greenville launched an urban renewal plan that helped revitalize its downtown district. The city boldly renovated Main Street, reducing traffic from four lanes to two, adding plenty of free parking, and building a system of parks and plazas that all linked easily to the thoroughfare. Greenville’s planning commission also planted trees—lots and lots of trees—knowing that a green canopy above downtown’s central street would help combat the bleakness caused by post-industrial blight. “It worked,” says Robert Hughes, project manager at Hughes Development Corporation, located in Greenville. “Today, Greenville has a beautiful Main Street that’s often ranked as one of the top main streets in the country.”
Main Street’s success set the precedent for Greenville’s larger ambitions: to become a sustainable small city with a thriving downtown. Development has continued down Main Street over the past 40 years, and today, ONE Greenville, the city’s newest mixed-use commercial center, is at the center of this revitalization.
Hughes Development began work on ONE Greenville in 2009. Early in the project, Clemson University and CertusBank, two major South Carolina institutions, signed on as anchor tenants. Both were attracted to ONE’s focus on sustainability and downtown community engagement. “Hughes Development has always been committed to place-making—we create places that people are drawn to,” Hughes says. “We also take our commitment to sustainability very seriously. It’s important to us, and it’s important to the future of Greenville.”
Being able to achieve both goals required responsibly developing a site that combines green design initiatives with public place enhancement. Hughes Development chose the city’s former Woolworth’s site for these reasons. “The building is at the corner of Main Street and Washington Street, which is the center of town and has been vacant for about 15 years,” Hughes says. “It’s also adjacent to Piazza Bergamo, which the city was planning to renovate to a lesser extent prior to the ONE development because it’s such a central public space.” With the site chosen, the developers issued a design competition for ONE Greenville’s architecture. The brief stated that the winning design would “show Greenville’s growth and resurgence and embody why it’s a great place to live.” With overt green features and subtle design achievements, the proposal from Denver’s 4240 Architecture won.
Certification LEED Gold (expected)
Water Low-flow fixtures, high-efficiency water heaters
Energy Glass reduces solar gain, 36kW solar array, high-efficiency lighting fixtures
Site Urban infill on site vacant for 15 years
Landscape Adjacent to vegetated public plaza
The design consists of two mid-rise towers that sit on top of a street-level retail platform. 4240’s design incorporates many features that boost the building’s LEED score; this was a non-negotiable element for both Hughes Development and the project’s tenants—especially Clemson—from its architectural conception. “Clemson mandates that all of its new structures must be certified no lower than LEED Silver, so that was always a goal at ONE,” Hughes says. Hughes and 4240 worked with sustainability consultancy firm YR&G to maximize ONE Greenville’s performance. More than 34 different types of glass reduce the building’s solar gain, and a 36-kilowatt solar array, manufactured in Greenville by REFUsol International, helps capture and convert solar energy in order to power the building. Combined with high-efficiency HVAC equipment and T5 light fixtures, these measures have reduced the building’s electrical consumption by 20 percent. Water consumption has also been drastically reduced—by 40 percent—due to 4240’s incorporation of low-flow water fixtures and high-efficiency water heaters. The design meets LEED Gold requirements, the certification level that Hughes is currently seeking.
But it’s the complex’s public presence that drives home its commitment to downtown Greenville’s comeback. The architects decorated ONE’s façade with an abstract grid in homage to the city’s textile past, a move that literally weaves the building into the regenerated Piazza Bergamo. New seating, upgraded landscape, and a sunshade make the plaza an optimal place to meet friends downtown, and apparently retailers are just as excited about the space as residents. ONE has been leased almost in full, and major retailers new to the city, including Anthropologie, Brooks Brothers, and Tupelo Honey Cafe, have recently opened their doors. “The response to the project has been exceptional,” Hughes says of the completed site. “Especially the response to the LEED Gold status, which has been overwhelmingly positive. LEED Gold would not have been possible if our tenants had not been willing to chip in a little extra for some of the required upgrades. They too are clearly committed to sustainability and making Greenville a better place.”
With a community commitment to sustainable, holistic place-making, Greenville certainly does stand out from America’s other microcities. And if ONE Greenville is an indicator of projects to come, then the city can only keep improving from here.