Since Charleston’s Board of Architectural Review was established in the early 1930s, its challenges have changed.

Now it deals less with applications to tear down old buildings and more with moving them to different sites.

It’s less about what color to allow owners to paint their houses and more about whether additions would erode the buildings’ historic character.

And in the last several years, as Charleston’s star has been on the rise and developers have lined up to be part of the economic upturn here, the BAR has been charged with approving or rejecting new construction that will be part of the city’s architectural inventory for generations.

It is, as Mayor Joe Riley said, a matter “of great importance.” And unfortunately, the protocol for making such decisions has made for some uninspired and unattractive new buildings.

Mr. Riley made a good choice when he sought the professional input of Andres Duany, an internationally renowned architect and urban planner. And the Historic Charleston Foundation made a good decision to help pay for his services.

Mr. Duany is the founder of the Congress for the New Urbanism, which seeks to reinvest in urban areas and discourage suburban sprawl.

He is also a proponent of New Classical architecture, which continues the practice of historically based traditional design, in contrast to the modernism that has met with such opposition on the lower peninsula.

He will spend six months studying the BAR, specifically as relates to new construction. That overview should be more helpful than the present process of dealing with issues as projects arise.

And given some of his innovative, functional and attractive projects, it is reasonable to hope Mr. Duany will have ideas to help maintain the quality of architecture for which Charleston is known and which has stood the test of time since the 18th century.

Many think that one of the reasons new buildings have been largely inferior design-wise is the BAR. Architects and developers don’t want to invest a lot of time and money in planning something risky that might be rejected by the BAR.

Recently, while a modern Clemson building design won approval by the BAR, it met with such public opposition – and a lawsuit – that Clemson withdrew the application.

The fact that Mr. Duany is himself an architect and urban planner gives him insights into how the process might stymie creativity and encourage mediocrity – and what changes to make so that doesn’t happen.

The city has announced that the public will be involved in the process – as it should be. After all, each city has its own culture and set of sensibilities, and people in Charleston feel very strongly about them. (See above about Clemson’s project.)

Historic preservationists Kitty Robinson, president and CEO of the Historic Charleston Foundation, and Kristopher King, Preservation Society director, both promise to follow the work closely. Mr. King said the BAR is “problematic in its rules, guidelines and regulations and enforcement. We see a gradual erosion in the quality of the historic district because of this.” Clearly revisions need to be made.

By hiring Mr. Duany, the City of Charleston is investing in its future. People who live in, work in or visit Charleston expect to be impressed by its architectural beauty. Charleston’s administration and council should be open to suggestions that will ensure they are not disappointed.