Windmill Station Groundbreaking

We were thrilled to be part of the groundbreaking for Windmill Station at Carnes Crossroads last Friday!

Learn more about this great project here.

Many thanks to Charleston ENT, Charleston GI, Lowcountry Rheumatology, Carnes Crossroads and the City of Goose Creek - we can't wait to watch it come to life!



Through the Looking Glass

Next time you are in a church, or pass by one lit up at night, take a moment to appreciate those stained glass windows a little more than usual. Surprisingly from a medical point of view, cognitive neuroscientist Michael Persinger explains how stained glass has made a deep impression on the mind even centuries ago:

At the time Gothic cathedrals were designed, most people lived in dark huts, so just walking into a space vastly larger than what they were habituated to, lit by stained glass windows, was literally awe-inspiring.


While today we're accustomed to large buildings and brightly lit homes, stained glass still makes a striking impact on people and on the spaces they are part of from both inside and out.

Last week, three SMHa architects took a field trip to Charlestown Stained Glass to learn the ins and outs of stained glass windows for a chapel they are designing. There's a lot more to the stained glass window world than what you see from the outside; varying styles, glass types, textures, painting techniques, whether the windows open or don't open are all factors to consider. Some pieces come in kits with themes like nature-inspired, religious or a generic kaleiodoscope of colors, or each window can be custom-made.

We enjoyed learning more about the colorful world of stained glass, and can't wait to see the final product that will inspire this particular chapel.






Towards a Regional Aesthetic: Crafting the Details of our Place

Sam and Charles were honored to be guest lecturers for AIA Charleston and Clemson Architecture Center of Charleston's series last week. There's no way we can justly sum up an hour-long presentation in one short(ish) blog post, but here's a shot:

SMHa's story began just after Hurricane Hugo, when most parts of this area we know and love were damaged or destroyed, and there was a great need for quality architecture appropriate for the Lowcountry. In those 27 years since (wow!) we have not only been influenced by this great place, but have had a unique opportunity to be on the front end of a 'vision' for its future.

Developing an aesthetic is an end result of observation, collaboration, context, budget, interpretation (and re-interpretation) of the project requirements. Mix that with a healthy dose of things outside of an architect's control and you get architecture. We have always strived to serve our clients first, and work with a combination of passion and humilitiy in all that we design. And the details. We really care about the details.

St. John's Lutheran ChurchRepairing Hugo's damage to St. John's Lutheran Church - one of SMHa's first projects - allowed us to learn from its history and craftsmen while restoring it to its former beauty. Those early post-Hugo years brought us opportunities like designing a new town hall for McClellanville that reflected the coastal fishing community's values and served as a symbol of hope for its future. Closer to home, the landscape began to change. Shuler Vet replaced the ramshackle Herbie's Famous Fireworks building with a simple structure designed to respect the rural integrity of the area and the values of nearby residents on the 'outskirts' of Mount Pleasant. In the decades following, those 'outskirts' have moved about eight miles north, and the town has grown up around it, but the building remains an appropriate reflection of Mount Pleasant's small-town roots.

Brookgreen Town Center Pedestrian ScaleIn 1990, Sidney Stubbs worked with the Mount Pleasant Planning Department to draft architectural design standards that became the basis for the Commercial Design Review Board. Soon after, Brookgreen Town Center on Coleman Blvd was one of the first projects to be completed using those design guidelines, and with its buildings placed along the street edge - creating a pedestrian environment and masking the parking lot - was a major departure from nearby strip shopping centers. That was the first of many times we were placed in a position to be on the front end of a vision.

Brookgreen Town Center from Coleman BoulevardDaniel Island, which blossomed from a sparsely populated rural cattle farm and hunting ground to a thriving town only in the past two decades, started with little context but surrounding forest. Buildings like First Citizens Plaza, Daniel Island Medical Center, Family Circle Cup Stadium, Blackbaud office and stadium, Holy Cross and DI Academy were all part of a newly created aesthetic in the master planned community which has been nationallly recognized for 'smart growth' practices and received an award for excellence from the Urban Land Institute.

Even more recently, MUSC Health East Cooper was one of the first buildings designed for a new "Central Mount Pleasant" area, and started the architectural conversation by blending function, form, tradition and technology.

Sewee OutpostOther iconic designs in the area have been honored with awards and adored by the community, in large part due to the materials and details that harken back to area's history and help them fit in with the surrounding context: Ashley Hall Dining Commons' creative streetfront, stucco, cast stone and window shapes; the way the addition to Buist Academy reflects brick elements of the original historic building while not overwhelming it on the small site; Sewee Outpost's agricultural form, heavy timbers and exposed steel that transformed it from what would have been 'just a butler building' into a beloved destination; the Pratt-Thomas Gumb Building's masonry, trusses, timber components and wood grilles reflective of the City Market and neighborhing railroad/port area undergoing the early stages of redevelopment - while we thought it might be a bit of a progressive interpretation, the Preservation Society asked the BAR not to allow us to change a thing about its design.

Growth and change are inevitable, especially in Charleston's current climate, and today we continue holding dear the need to craft a regional aesthetic that embraces the Lowcountry's ambiance and history, with an eye to the future. 


Town Hall Video Update

Mount Pleasant's new Town Hall is coming along nicely! Thanks to the Town of Mount Pleasant for putting together this video to show just what was going on at the site in October. It's so fun watching a project come to life!


Gateway Academy Takes a Field Trip to SMHa

Recently, we were excited to host a group of more than twenty young ladies who plan to start their freshman year at Wando High School this month. As part of Gateway Academy's Girls' Summer Engineering Camp, Katie Johnston - an engineering and architecture teacher at Wando, licensed SC Architect, and SMHamily member married to Senior Architect Jeff Johnston - brought these incoming students to experience what real-life is like in an architecture firm.

The hands-on program is based on Project Lead the Way®'s successful pre-engineering program offered at Wando High School, and is designed to introduce secondary school students to the fundamentals of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

After a tour of the office to see how our firm works and some of the projects we're working on, the class took a tour of Shem Creek Office Building, currently under construction down the street. It's not every day that students get a chance to walk inside a building under construction - hard hats and all - to learn how buildings work from the people who designed them.

STEM is such an important part of the curriculum - perhaps these young women will one day graduate with a related degree and join us in the field! Best of luck to them in their first year at Wando, and thanks to Katie Johnston and Gateway Academy for letting us play a small role in inspiring this new generation of Wando students!