When Lenoir-Rhyne University decided to build a new Occupational Health Therapy classroom building on North Main Street, in Columbia South Carolina, one of the most important design criteria was that it fit into the existing neighborhood and reflects the styles and the features of the surrounding architecture.

The area is very eclectic with single family residences and apartments, university, religious, business and retail buildings, with a few historic structures sprinkled in along a 2-3 block strip, on the rapidly changing North Main Street Corridor.

But how do you make a two story, 25,000 square foot structure, match buildings in an area with such a vast array of sizes, uses and architectural styles? Well, you don’t. Instead of “matching” the neighboring buildings, a design technique known as contextual infill was used to insure the building fits into its surroundings. Scale, proportion, materials, roof lines, windows, colors, setbacks from property lines, location of the parking lot and even the types of trees and plants used in the landscaping, were all taken into consideration to help the building “fit in”.

As a result, the university has a building they can be proud of and will serve them well for many, many years; the area is infused with new life and vigor from the hundreds of energetic young college students who will be attending classes here every year, and the neighborhood has a beautiful new building that blends seamlessly into the context of its surroundings. By demanding the new structure be sensitive to the existing architecture in the area the owner has created a building the entire community will be proud to say is one of their own.