Florence-Darlington Technical College, The Continuum

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The Darla Moore Foundation’s plans for a regional educational facility in Lake City focused on students from the underserved Pee Dee region. In 2017 and under the guidance of philanthropist Darla Moore, a Lake City native, Florence-Darlington Technical College and Francis Marion University collaborated together to create an innovative facility that serves high school, college, and continuing education students with a variety of workforce-focused courses including: CNA, HVAC, welding, manufacturing, and industrial maintenance, as well as distance learning, biology, and chemistry courses.

The new campus’s design is open and inviting, drawing life from the region’s agricultural legacy. From site plan to exterior façade to interior finishes, the design is inspired by imagery of deconstructed wood-slat barns. As visitors approach the campus, the entry road view reaches to a reflection pool running beneath an extended overhang of the soaring roof structure and into a green space intended for art installations.

By strategically dividing the former strip-mall and big-box structure — even removing portions, the design creates circulation spaces equipped with flexible, functional furniture that encourage students and faculty to gather and interact. Linked by these open spaces, the building incorporates multiple educational functions into one cohesive floor plan, including classrooms, computer labs, science labs, and workforce development spaces. The color scheme draws on the tobacco leaf, a local former cash crop, with various green hues evident in furniture, wayfinding, and murals. 

The central corridor’s roof is elevated with a large-scale glulam structure and wood deck, allowing natural daylighting to penetrate to the center of the former big-box retail floor. The massive wood structure and exposed bolted connections give the space both an industrial feel and a sense of rootedness in the natural world. Large windows and projecting glass boxes around the entire building perimeter assist in introducing significant daylighting into the classrooms, meetings spaces, and offices. By using traditional building materials like brick, copper, and wood, the design achieves a modern solution while complementing the surrounding downtown structures.

The Continuum opened its doors to students in August 2019.