808 Lady St.

This circa 1940 warehouse was formerly occupied by a wholesale distribution facility and later by an electrical supply company. The building was purchased and developed by Molten/Lamar early in the revitalization of the Congaree Vista area of downtown Columbia, a former warehouse district which is now a vibrant restaurant / arts area. The building provides space for Molten/Lamar Architects, art studios, and other design-related businesses.

This renovation project is unique in that it focuses on an undistinguished utility building located in a historic district. The lack of historical significance allowed the architects the freedom to explore and demonstrate the possibilities of adaptive reuse of a building – an approach the architects feel is important in the revitalization of older areas such as this one.

Several of the building’s features presented the architects with unique possibilities for development. The large loading area allowed the building to be opened up to the street while its spaciousness imposed few design constraints on the interior. The architects have left the building largely in its original form. The exception is the two-story portion that had been added to the left of the original warehouse. The closed brick façade of this portion of the building was removed, opening this space to the street with storefront and projecting stucco surround, contrasting the addition with the original building. The building’s two central loading bays remain and have been converted into an entrance garden with skylights. The loading bay on the right side has been filled with storefront, yielding a high ceiling, light-filled office space. The office, retail, and artist areas have been designed to capitalize on the industrial character of the building, leaving the existing structural and mechanical elements exposed wherever possible. An alley has been developed to connect the building to pedestrian traffic in the Vista.