Architecture & Urban Design

Fresh Air

Design Miami

Must-see Savannah recommendations from SCAD President and Founder Paula Wallace

“Savannah is positively one of America’s most gorgeous and historic cities,” says Paula Wallace, President of Savannah College of Art & Design. She is certainly an expert on the subject. Wallace has lived in Savannah since the late-1970s, when she founded SCAD. As she's helped nurture generations of designers and artists, she’s also spearheaded a number of historic preservation projects for the community. Last year, the mayor honored her with the Key to the City. With an eye toward a time when we can all be less homebound, we asked Wallace, a long-time Design Miami collaborator and supporter, to share a few of her favorite local haunts.


Savannah & SCAD

SCAD's Poetter Hall, originally built in 1892. Photo © SCAD

“To understand the story of modern Savannah is to learn the story of SCAD. Formerly the Savannah Volunteer Guard Armory, Poetter Hall was SCAD’s very first building. Since the university has repurposed more than 60 structures in the city, Poetter embodies SCAD’s adaptive rehabilitation of Savannah.”


Praiseworthy Architecture

Left: Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist. Photo © Steve Bisson; Right: First African Baptist Church, Savannah. Photo © David Hoffman.

“Savannah's historic architectural sites are a delight for any design lover. Venture a couple of blocks east to Lafayette Square to enjoy the grand French Gothic style of the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist. Farther north and west stands the First African Baptist Church, the oldest black congregation in North America and a must-see for its historical significance and its embodiment of several architectural styles seen throughout the city.”


Edifying Exhibitions

The SCAD Museum of Art's brick structure was built in 1853, with renovations 2010-11. Photo © SCAD

“Home of the Walter O. Evans Collection of African American Art and recent host of the renowned Frederick Douglass: Embers of Freedom exhibition, the SCAD Museum of Art is a prime example of the university's award-winning legacy of adaptive reuse and urban revitalization. Housed in an 1853 brick structure formerly a railway depot for the Central of Georgia Railway, SCAD MOA curates internationally lauded and emerging visionaries alike.”


Dinner with a View

The Gray. Photo © AIA Georgia

“At the Perry Lane Hotel, take the elevator up to Peregrin, a rooftop bar featuring sweeping views of downtown and the Savannah River. Near Forsyth Park, Perch—the aptly named rooftop venue atop Local 11ten—nestles in the trees among stately historic structures in the Victorian District. And a fine example of adaptive reuse and thoughtful design, The Grey occupies the former Greyhound Bus Terminal, an art deco standout built in 1938; plus it features the fabulous, dynamic fare of James Beard Award-winning chef Mashama Bailey.”


Spirited Neighborhoods

Starland Yard. Photo © Do Savannah. SCAD alumni artists in front of a Starland Mural. Photo © SCAD

“Savannah’s eclectic and creative Starland District is home to the Starland Mural Project and Starland Yard, a fresh, open-air collection of watering holes, food trucks, and more. South of there, Chatham Crescent, Ardsley Park, and other historic Savannah neighborhoods feature diverse architectural styles. In fact, the homes in the area are so distinct that SCAD chair of architectural history Dr. Robin Williams filmed walking tours here to inspire his students during the lockdown.”


Savannah Visionaries

SCAD alum Michael Porten at work on the Savannah Women of Vision Investiture. Photo © SCAD

“Any tour of Savannah would be incomplete without learning about those who made the city the marvel it is today. In homage to the women in particular who have shaped this community, the Savannah Women of Vision Investiture commemorates a cadre of women of peerless valor, altruism, and intellect. Inductees include Mother Mathilda Beasley, Georgia’s first African American nun and a fearless advocate for equality and education, as well as former Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears, the first African American to serve as chief justice of any Supreme Court in the US. Each inductee is honored with a large, gilded relief portrait—hand-carved by SCAD alumnus Michael Porten—and permanently installed in the Arnold Hall Theater.”

A Few More Highlights

SCAD's Gryphon Hall, exterior and interior. Photo © SCAD

SCAD's Pepe Hall, exterior and interior.  Photo © SCAD

SCAD's Ruskin Hall, exterior and interior. Photo © SCAD