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DNR News

Dec. 20, 2012

Clemson University graduate students create new Sassafras Mountain overlook

A team of Clemson University graduate students in architecture and landscape architecture recently designed, constructed and installed a new overlook at Sassafras Mountain in northern Pickens County.

The collective motivation was to provide a universally designed viewing platform accessible to all who visit the highest point in South Carolina, Pickens County and the Foothills Trail, according to Dan Harding, associateSassafras overlook professor of architecture and director of the Community Research and Design Center at Clemson University.

“The concept hinged on an idea that used a primary wood structure with a light, sky-blue-painted steel railing designed to leave visitors feeling as if they are floating over a wonderful rock out-cropping while remaining safely contained by the railing, which disappears into the expanding horizon,” Harding said.

Built entirely on the campus of Clemson University employing best practices associated with sustainable construction and resource management, the pre-fabricated overlook platform and the project components were transported and mobilized to the job site by the design team with assistance from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR). At the Sassafras parking area, about 80 feet in elevation below the top of Sassafras Mountain, the parts were efficiently re-assembled over several days. Currently, work is still being performed to sculpt the existing trail to improve the connection and access to the overlook.

The student design team, from Clemson University’s School of Architecture and Department of Landscape Architecture, includes Nick Barrett, Thomas Campbell, Priyanka Jagsdale and Thomas Punzo. Project professors are Harding and Paul Russell, assistant professor of landscape architecture. Funding was provided by DNR.

A fund-raising campaign to build an observation tower atop Sassafras Mountain, the highest point in South Carolina, is currently underway.


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