Wildlight: New urbanism's answer to lowcountry living?

Is it possible to create a community combining the best elements of Lowcountry southern living, cuisine and architecture with industry and New Urbanism? This major timber company believes so.

What is the Lowcountry?

Generally associated with South Carolina, the Lowcountry is a region of the Southeast, once known for its agricultural-based economy built upon rice and indigo producing slave plantations. Largely a chain of barrier islands known as the Sea Islands, it actually stretches from the St. Johns River in Jacksonville to the Santee River in South Carolina. Anchored by the Antebellum era cities of Charleston and Savannah, the region is also internationally known for its African influenced cuisine, which includes dishes such as Shrimp and Grits, Lowcountry Boil, Crab cake, Charleston Red Rice, Hoppin’John and baked Mac-n-Cheese.

In addition, architecture is one of the Lowcountry’s most distinctive elements. In response to its subtropical climate, high water tables, swampy environment and access to large amounts of timber, buildings historically constructed in the Lowcountry could be characterized by the following design elements:

  • Wood frame construction
  • Raised floors set on pilings
  • Roofs extending over porches that allow shaded outdoor sitting areas
  • Large windows for ventilation

Rayonier Advanced Materials Fernandina Beach mill

In need of large amounts of energy, water and wood pulp to operate its modern mills, paper companies such as Rayonier set their sights on the Lowcountry during the early 1900s. Founded as the Rainer Pulp and Paper Company in Shelton, Washington in 1926, Rayonier expanded to the Lowcountry in 1938, opening a pulp mill in Fernandina Beach. In 1999, the company relocated its headquarters to Jacksonville, the region’s largest city, after purchasing 969,000 acres of timberland in Florida, Georgia and Alabama.