Singleton Building Earns LEED Silver Certification!

We are excited to announce that the interior renovation of the Singleton Building at Coastal Carolina University has been certified as LEED Silver for Commercial Interiors! 

It ain't easy being green, but because the built environment has such a noteworthy impact on the natural environment that we love any and all shades of 'green' that a client desires whether it’s Energy Star rated, Green Globes, LEED, or simply designed with some environmentally friendly features. CCU required that the renovation to its iconic first building on campus be designed for LEED Silver certification - LEED is a rating system that the United States Green Building Council uses to evaluate a building's environmental performance and encourage sustainable design.

As iconic as the Singleton Building is as the campus entry point from the exterior, the interior was a stark contrast. 2 floors of tight floor-to-floor heights, a maze of cubicles and repurposed offices with very little natural light, no central HVAC, asbestos, dated technological and functional components and a lack of ADA accessibility - among other things - were insufficient to accommodate the head departments of a booming university that had grown to 100-times its original enrollment. 

Designers worked to shed light (literally) on the solution while keeping affordable, sustainable options at the forefront of the project, gaining LEED points for design components such as:

         Perimeter rooms' high ceilings let more light inside.Daylight and Views: Previously, only rooms along the perimeter of the building had natural light coming through the windows. Keeping the perimeter room ceilings high (no ductwork) maximizes the flow of natural light with frosted glass storefront on the interior side of those rooms creating a light filled corridor which allows light to continue to flow to the rest of the floor and work spaces without sacrificing privacy.

         Glass walls bring natural light to interior spaces.Enhanced Commissioning: Whole Building Systems is an independent commissioning authority that was designated to lead, review and oversee the completion of all commissioning process activities from the basis of design, to design documents through the construction phase. They reviewed and verified completion of requirements for training operating personnel and building occupants as well as reviewing contractor submittals of the complex systems for compliance.

         Active HVAC controls improve energy use for fluctuations in occupancy for small and large spacesWater Use Reduction: By choosing low-flow fixtures, the potable water use was reduced by 37%.

         Minimum Energy Performance: By using features like occupancy sensors to automatically turn lights on or off, LEDs and related features, the connected lighting power was reduced by 25%.

         Optimized HVAC Energy Performance: Active HVAC controls -designed to sense the space and control ventilation based on occupancy - are installed for private offices and public zones throughout the building. 

Today, the 33,000 square-foot building's interiors welcome visitors and staff with bright spaces and economical designs that improve the working and built environment as well as long-term maintenance and energy costs.        

Special Thanks to Coastal Carolina University and Our Project Team:

Coastal Carolina University - Mark Avant, Bill Wendle

Whole Building Systems – Maria Schwartz, Susan Collins, Dennis Knight

DWG Engineering – Mary Gallagher, Will Billard, Kenny Minogue

ADC Engineering – Mark Dillon, Lauren Bush 


Charleston Iron Work: Forging On

Amid the tower cranes and rapid high-rise development of downtown Charleston, the ambiance of the historic area draws thousands of people each year to experience cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, steeples, single houses, shrimp and grits and wrought iron gates. While many think that blacksmithing and wrought iron is a thing of the past, Robert Thomas and the team at Robert Thomas Iron Design are proving otherwise, one hammer blow at a time from their Charleston-based studio. Their work on Southern First Bank (80 Calhoun) was recently recognized with a national Gold Medal award from the National Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metals Association. 

When 80 Calhoun was in design, the City of Charleston encouraged Senior Architect Margie Longshore to incorporate traditional Charleston craftsmanship; the building’s prominent position as the backdrop to the finely detailed Gailliard Auditorium warranted hand-crafted details throughout. With a stair feature inside and a goal to start with hand-crafted iron work on the outside and then continue through the twisting inside staircase – seen prominently from the outside – Margie contacted a friend with connections to the American College of Building Arts, who put her in touch with Robert Thomas. 

Together, architect and blacksmith collaborated to make the big idea work. Robert and his team built a 3-D computer model to accurately study the railing details and review final decisions with the design team and contractors. Once the staircase was in place, they took detailed measurements, built a framework and transported it back and forth as it was created and detailed to ensure a proper final fit. 

“It was refreshing to work with a blacksmith on crafted details as unique as this,” Margie says. “Forging iron itself is physically challenging, and watching them hand-produce it while anticipating the different conditions of the finished product really warrants a high level of appreciation for the details. Their work has become a stunning focal point and timeless feature for 80 Calhoun.” 

In a city that champions the work of Phillip Simmons and other blacksmiths from decades and centuries past, Robert Thomas and his team are forging forward, combining the old technique with new projects. His new book, The Art & Craft of the Blacksmith: Techniques and Inspiration for the Modern Smith is already an Amazon Top Seller, and has been featured nationally.

Check out this video to see him in action and learn more about modern blacksmithing:


Introducing Our Four New Partners!

As we recently announced, we are thrilled for the promotion of our four senior architects - Chris Altman, AIA, Billy Connell, AIA, LEED AP, Jeff Johnston, AIA and Margie Longshore, AIA, LEED AP - to new partners of SMHa! Chris, Billy, Jeff and Margie have demonstrated not only their dedication in serving clients, but also their talented skills in architecture throughout their tenure here. 

Chris Altman, AIA, specializes in a range of projects for higher education and retail, like the redevelopment of Bowman Place in Mount Pleasant and multiple new projects at Freshfields Village. He serves on the Fair Board for the Exchange Club of Charleston and is a graduate of Clemson University.



Billy Connell, AIA, is a native of Mount Pleasant and champions designs for civic projects like Mount Pleasant’s new Town Hall. He is an alumnus of both Clemson University and North Carolina State University, and recently completed Leadership Charleston.



Jeff Johnston, AIA, focuses on private projects for the resort, medical and office communities, such as the new 111 Coleman office building. An Auburn University graduate, he serves on both the City of Charleston Design Review Board and the Daniel Island Architectural Review Board.



Margie Longshore, AIA, has completed numerous projects involving rehabilitation or new construction in downtown Charleston; most recently Southern First Bank at 80 Calhoun Street. She also leads the firm’s efforts in K-12 educational projects. Margie is a graduate of Auburn University, a member of the AIA South Carolina board of directors, and a graduate of Leadership Charleston.


Come One, Come All!

SMHa is committed to designing buildings that are accessible for all citizens!

Do you know that the state of South Carolina has adopted the 2017 edition of the ICC A117.1 Accessibility and Usable Buildings and Facilities Code? You need to know that many jurisdictions throughout South Carolina are now reviewing projects under the new regulation. A few of the revisions that you will see in our latest designs:

  • Larger dimensions for clear floor spaces and turning spaces in new buildings
  • Improvements to exterior accessible routes
  • New passenger drop-offs and parking requirements
  • Acoustic standards for classrooms
  • Features allowing for better communication for persons using sign language
  • Provisions for water bottle filling stations



Season's Greeting House

We were thrilled to learn that the Greeting House at Nexton has been named Best Sales + Info Center by the Charleston Home Builders Association! We designed the builing to have staying power in this new and thriving community; to first be an inviting sales center until the community is complete, and then to transition into a community meeting and event center. The extensive lawn and adjacent Brighton Park playground only enhance the building's ability to connect with the community.

Our aim was to create a warm, welcoming environment that not only educates about our growing community, but celebrates the Charleston region and that quintessential souther-hospitality that makes it such a wonderful place to live, work and play.


 Check out the full article here.

Many thanks to the folks at Nexton, and our talented team members: Atlantic Engineering, DWG Engineering, SeamonWhiteside, Kennon Williams Landscape Studio and Hill Construction.