South Carolina Botanical Garden.


Following 2013 flood, Clemson architecture students rebuild the South Carolina Botanical Garden.

Just more than one year ago, the summer of 2013 saw a flood wipe away most of the South Carolina Botanical Garden's nature trails and bridges. But thanks largely to Clemson University architecture students, who spent much of the past nine months rebuilding the bridges, trails and signage, the Garden is now fully operational and back to normal.

"They all did a tremendous job, from the wide range of students at Clemson to all the great volunteers" said John Bodiford, garden manager and senior horticulturist of the Botanical Garden at Clemson. "Those architecture students did a great job of designing and building the bridges; we could not have done it without them. This project is a testament to the devotion, passion and work ethic of the Clemson community in coming to the aid of the South Carolina Botanical Garden."

Where the Botanical Gardenand much of the city of Clemsonwas on July 13, 2013 is underwater. Rain fell on the area virtually every day after mid-June. In the 10 days prior to the 13th of July, Clemson received more than 20 inches of rain. On the night of July 12th, into the morning of the 13th, the gardens saw an additional eight inches of rain.

That was enough to open the floodgates, so to speakspecifically on the garden's Duck Pond, which unleashed more than 100 million gallons of water on the Hunt Cabin and the nature trails just beyond it.

"The water was just rushing down, and taking everything with it," explained Clemson architecture student William Craig, a lead member of the team of students that helped to rebuild the garden. "It was a chain reaction of flooding all the way down the creek. All the top soil was moved, trails were lost, and all bridges but one were structurally compromised."

With so much damage, and repair costs estimated to be more than six figures, Dr. Patrick McMillan, director of the South Carolina Botanical Garden, turned to Clemson's school of architecture, awarding a contract to its architecture studio course to build new bridges. Clemson's students and professors took it from there, operating first like an outside architectural firm, and then as construction managers and workers as the project took shape.

Undergraduate and graduate architecture and landscape architecture students worked together to build eight new bridgesthose that are interwoven, modular, customized and prefabricated trusses of steel. They also created new signage and on-site maps to help visitors find their way through the garden and trails.

In building the eight new bridges (seven of which are in the garden; one is in expectation of a future bridge), Clemson students constructed 43 modular spans of bridge (which totals 172-feet in length) with 38 precast concrete foundation systems, 1,032 linear feet of angle sections of steel, 840 square feet of fiberglass grating, 344 custom and truss members, 96 custom steel joists, 2,752 linear feet of 1/2" steel rod for the railing, 344 linear feet of 2x4 treated wood for the foot rail, and 344 linear feet of 2x6 treated wood for the handrail; all new signage for the trails (that included 160 square feet of sheet steel and 4,000 pounds of concrete foundations); and an interactive sculptural art piece that memorializes and replicates the fury of the storm.

Students and professors involved included: Architecture Professor Daniel Harding and Landscape Architecture Professor Paul Russell; graduate architecture students William Craig, Brittany Cohen, Nick Irmen, Naseem Keshmirian, Jared Lee, Trey Meyer, Nicole Nguyen, Adam Windham; and fifth-year landscape architecture students Nick Allport, Katie Fronek, Brennan Hansley, Joshua Robbins, and Cody Zanni.

"We couldn't get any better experience than this. We operated this project just like an actual architecture firm would, and that is what our thinking was all along -- that it would be not just a class project, but something run like an architecture firm," Craig added. "For me, it's been amazing to see that I can, with other people, achieve something really artful and really connected with all these natural systems, and to do it all at a high degree of craftsmanship. Being able to take that forward in the future with any kind of architectural project is powerful. I hope I can achieve this same level of thought and craftsmanship in every project I work on."

A version of this story was riginally published on the Clemson University Newsstand.

Photos Show

One of the eight new bridges

One of the eight new bridges

One of the eight new bridges designed and constructed by Clemson University students in the South Carolina Botanical Garden. The bridges are constructed of fiberglass, concrete, and steel. [View Additional File Details]

Interactive sculpture

Interactive sculpture

An interactive sculpture designed by Clemson University students memorializing the July 2013 storm that led to the rebuilding of the South Carolina Botanical Garden. [View Additional File Details]

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Mike L., “South Carolina Botanical Garden.,” Community of Gardens, accessed February 26, 2024, https:/​/​communityofgardens.​si.​edu/​items/​show/​12133.​
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