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New S.C. park celebrates local culture with buildings that echo lowcountry style

Hilton Head, S.C., has earned its reputation as a top-tier tourist destination by offering popular community amenities that lift it above your standard-fare coastal beach town. The new Lowcountry Celebration Park is one such star attraction. While it serves a workaday purpose as a stormwater-management tool, what the public sees is an already-popular spot for passive and active recreation that incorporates a sprawling playground that includes a replica ship outfitted for climbing, a children’s museum, an open pavilion and restroom facilities. The buildings designed for these three purposes draw on regional architectural elements such as low-slung, overhanging eaves and standing-seam metal roofs.

Despite its prominent location next to a popular beach’s parking lot, the park’s 10-acre site had been dormant for years. The town acquired the land two decades ago, and then sat on it while planners worked on possible uses for the plot. The finalized design combines a variety of recreation options with several components to help minimize problematic flooding in the future. These include the stormwater lagoon and a permeable parking area to reduce runoff.

The park’s three buildings face onto an elliptical, open grassy space, and their similarly gabled roofs help tie them together. Designed by Columbia, S.C.’s Watson Tate Savory Architects (which has since merged with McMillan Pazdan Smith), their façades feature weathered gray wood, Savannah gray brick and the oyster-shell-based tabby stucco common to the region.

For the standing-seam roofs, the architects turned to Petersen’s PAC-CLAD line of products, specifying 18,500 sq. ft. of the company’s Tite-Loc Plus panels, fabricated from .040-gauge aluminum in a Zinc finish. Aluminum was the logical choice given the exposure to salt spray. And the choice of Tite-Loc Plus, versus standard Tite-Loc panels, also recognizes the challenges of a coastal location. These panels are field-seamed to a 180° lock instead of the standard 90°, providing more protection against the hurricane-force winds that can batter the barrier island on which Hilton Head is located.

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