Integrated Media Publishing (Greenville Business Magazine, Columbia Business Monthly, and Charleston Business) selected our firm for an April spotlight feature, Designing The Future: McMillan Pazdan Smith. By Amy Bonesteel.
Here’s an excerpt from the article:
With a portfolio that includes repurposed historic properties, high-tech, sustainable buildings for schools and industry, as well as retail and residential projects, architecture firm McMillan Pazdan Smith (MPS) has a varied list of projects.
But one thing that remains consistent is the company’s attention to their roots, says CEO Chad Cousins, and that centers on “helping clients and communities reach their potential.”
Founded in 1955, the close to 300-person business has seven offices throughout the region, including Greenville, Spartanburg, Columbia, Charleston, Asheville, and Atlanta. The best way to know an area is to be a part of it, and these regional offices allow architects to learn more about the neighborhoods they work in.
“We really have reached a substantial balance between depth of market knowledge, design expertise and value to clients in specific markets,” says Cousins, noting the firm’s “strength of community engagement and involvement.”
Part of this integration with the region includes renewing and redesigning historical or abandoned structures. The firm’s offices are in repurposed structures whenever possible, with the Greenville location in the former Claussen’s Bakery Building (circa 1930), the Atlanta office in the iconic Hastings Seed Building (c. 1913) and Columbia in the onetime Unity Life Building (c. 1939).
In history-filled Charleston the company is in the renovated Harleston-Boags Funeral Home Building (c. 1880) near cultural landmarks including the Mother Emanuel AME Church.
This focus on sustainability is another hallmark of McMillan Pazdan Smith. Adapting what has already been built, being mindful of materials and sources as well as making sure structures fit organically within the environment are all considered in the company’s designs.
An example is the Continuum building in Lake City, South Carolina, a regional workforce education center that was once a Walmart. Using the region’s history as an agricultural center and tobacco market as inspiration, MPS architect Stuart Barber and project designer Sydney Kerschen used natural wood structures to create barn-inspired “tree” supports and even reproduced vintage soil maps from the region as wall and color designs.
Another of the firm’s award-winning projects in Columbia exemplifies sustainability and an ecological focus. The City of Columbia’s Water Distribution and Wastewater Management building (2018) was an abandoned car dealership that the group redesigned as a water division facility.
The “green” building, which includes a water garden and a distinctively detailed roof, received multiple awards including the Adaptive Reuse Merit Award by AIS South Atlantic Region.
A large part of the company’s designs are academic/institutional, and more and more campus dorms and buildings are being built with sustainability in mind.
“Generationally, we see a lot more emphasis on environmental social governance,” says Cousins, including “the impact we leave on the environment and the health and wellness of the environment that the student lives and studies in.”
It’s part of what architects do, agrees Cary Perkins, principal and Director of Design Engagement for the firm.
“Architects have always been charged with caring for health, safety and welfare,” she notes. “That is extremely relevant to not only environmental sustainability but resilience and wellness in general.” Continue Reading…