Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Hunley lab renovations first up at new Clemson institute


The Beaufort Gazette
By Bruce Smith
April 03, 2006

CHARLESTON, S.C. - An expansion this fall of the lab where the submarine H.L. Hunley is housed will be the first sign of new development at Clemson University's planned 65-acre Restoration Institute campus at the old Charleston Naval Base.
But the institute, which in a decade is expected to create 4,700 jobs with an economic impact of a half billion dollars, is about more than repairing historic homes or conserving Confederate subs.

"We're looking not only at the past and historic preservation and conservation but we're looking at how can we build our cities in the future smarter," Janice Schach, the institute's director, said Monday.

University officials say the center is the first to formally focus on the restoration economy, defined as a trillion dollar global economy focused on restoring both natural resources and existing communities.

The institute will conduct research in areas from health and hydrology to materials engineering and urban design.

"When you want to build anything anywhere you have to restore something," said Schach, also dean of Clemson's College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities.

"Our roads and our bridges and our electrical grid systems and our sewer systems and our water systems are all under stress," she said, adding that by 2030, half the buildings in the world will have been built since 2000.

"That's a huge building boom. So not only are we looking at having to keep up our existing buildings and our existing infrastructure, we have to build all that new," she said.

At the same time, there will be more worldwide demand - especially in places like China - for raw materials such as steel and concrete.

"We need to be looking at alternative and advanced materials where we conserve our natural resources because the world can't meet that demand," Schach warned.

About 100 people gathered Monday to hear remarks from Storm Cunningham, author of the book "The Restoration Economy."

He noted that historically, nations and their economies grew by finding new lands and resources - sometimes by going to war.

Nations running low on resources had the choices of restoring, relocating or receding. But relocating, because the challenges are worldwide, is not an option.

Schach said a larger lab is needed so it can expand its work of restoring maritime artifacts. The first new Clemson building on the campus is expected to be finished in about two years.

Clemson will finish preserving the Hunley - the first sub in history to sink an enemy warship - as part of the Restoration Institute plan.

"This is an academic, economic and technological opportunity for us in this community," said state Sen. Glenn McConnell, the chairman of the South Carolina Hunley Commission.

The institute "provides us with an unparalleled opportunity to expand our work in historic preservation and materials science," said Clemson President James Barker.



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