Excitement is building at CHS.
Soon the new Rental Car Pavilion (RCP) will open and passengers and guests will get a sneak peek at what Charleston International Airport will look like when renovations are complete.
Sleek. Modern. Bright. Open. Charleston. Those are the words used to describe the 6,200-square-foot home to Hertz, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, and National – the five rental car companies operating in the airport.
The RCP is scheduled to open March 19. It is the first piece of the $189 million Terminal Redevelopment and Improvement Program work to be completed.
Over the next two years, the airport terminal will gradually transform from a dark 1980s brick structure to a bright, modern facility that mirrors the charm and elegance of Charleston and the rest of the Lowcountry. Coming are a new Central Energy Plant, five new airline gates, a modernized baggage handling system, consolidated security screening checkpoint, renovated ticket counters and a variety of new retail stores, pubs and restaurants for passengers to enjoy.
Work on the Rental Car Pavilion began in the spring of 2013. Many of its key design features will appear throughout the airport, including the white terrazzo floors and the 16-foot floor-to-ceiling windows that will create expansive views from the terminal’s landside and airside.
The airport’s architectural design draws from Charleston history and architecture, in particular the Charleston Single House – so named because it is a single room wide on the streetscape – and the lush gardens just off the piazzas (that’s porches for you folks from ‘off’). This design will be most visible in the Central Hall when it is completed in 2015.
Overall, travelers will feel the difference in the new design. Coupled with the natural light, glass walls and open space, the materials and colors are borrowed from the palette of the Lowcountry to create a welcoming atmosphere that will make visitors and residents feel at home.
“The building today really doesn’t have a heart. It doesn’t have a feel that says ‘I’m in the Lowcountry. I’ve gotten here.’ Or, ‘I’m going to miss this place because I’m leaving here,’ “ said Tom Theobold, principal at Fentress Architects, which created the airport design. “This will be a big transformation in how people see and engage with the airport.”
In the Rental Car Pavilion, the Lowcountry palette is demonstrated in the ceiling, the trellis work and the cool coastal tones in the terrazzo floors.
The ceiling panels are intended to mimic the “haint” blue ceilings often found on the porch ceilings of a Charleston Single House. Dating to the 1800s and the Gullah culture of African slaves, it is believed that blue porch ceilings would draw evil spirits away from the home and into the sky.
The trellis work hanging over the rental car counters is reminiscent of those used in Charleston’s Historic District gardens to create intimate charm and elegance outdoors. They are painted Charleston Green, a classic Southern paint color that is so deep it is often mistaken as the color black.
According to Southern Living: “Local legend says that Charleston Green came about after the Civil War when Union troops sent buckets of black paint to help rebuild the decimated town. Colorful Charleston residents couldn’t bear the thought of the Holy City being painted government-issued black, so they tinted the paint with yellow and green, creating Charleston’s signature greenish-black accent color.” The color shows up on everything from shutters and doors to ironwork and window and door trims.
Charleston International Airport is an important part of the economic engine that drives the South Carolina Lowcountry. For business travelers and tourists looking to soak up the grace and charm of the region, the airport is the first and last impression for nearly3 million passengers each year.
The goal of the Charleston County Aviation Authority, as owner and operator of the airport, is to provide a first-class facility that echoes the quality, culture and beauty of Charleston, the Lowcountry and the state of South Carolina.
The terminal redevelopment project is slated for completion in late 2015.