Gaillard Center


City of Charleston, South Carolina


Seats: 1,800

Height: 4 stories

Architects: David M. Schwarz Architects / Earl Swensson Associates

Gaillard Center

South Carolina

The Gaillard Center sets a new world-class standard for performance venues. As the largest municipal project in Charleston’s 350-year history, the existing 1960s-era general purpose auditorium, which hosts the world-renowned Spoletto Festival, was completely demolished and replaced with a new 1,800-seat, four-level, horseshoe-shaped seating configuration providing better sightlines, enhanced acoustics, and a more intimate experience. In addition to the new performance hall, updated 18,000-sf exhibition hall, and new banquet facility, the project includes a new 61,000-sf civic office building housing the City of Charleston’s new Emergency Operations Center.

One of the most significant structural challenges involved with this project was a major seismic upgrade that was needed to bring the exhibition hall up to current building code earthquake load capacity. New structural steel-braced frames and concrete shearwall elements were integrated into the design of the expansion to provide lateral support for the new facility. Additional challenges included the phased demolition and construction sequencing, selective strengthening of floor and roof framing members, and installation of new foundations in the existing hall.