Entries in architecture (5)


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.


When One Door Opens: Building Doors to Freedom

A few years ago, Doors to Freedom founder and director Sharon Rikard spoke at an East Cooper Breakfast Rotary Club meeting about sex trafficking right here in the Lowcountry community, and how her program was helping young victims become whole again and safely reenter the world.

“In 2011, South Carolina didn’t have adequate anti-trafficking laws. There was a lack of awareness, and victims were being treated as criminals. In 2012, the laws were changed to allow stricter penalties for trafficking, and decriminalized young girls. Awareness is growing, but there is no safe place for the victims to go. The US has a population of at least 100,000 children we know are being trafficked, and because it’s a hidden crime, we estimate it is more likely to be about 300,000,” explains Rikard.

Charles Muldrow was moved by what she had to say at the Rotary meeting, and afterward handed her his card – SMHa had recently completed a residential treatment facility and would be happy to provide insight and services to help Doors to Freedom (which was currently operating out of an office) open a safe, secure place for these young girls to begin new lives.

Today, the renovation is underway, and when complete in early 2017, will be the first domestic minor sex trafficking safe home in South Carolina. The facility will be home for up to ten survivors of sex trafficking at a time, plus 24-hour staff. It will be a safe haven, providing these girls – aged 12 to 20 – a secure place to live, receive an education, learn basic life skills, get therapy and more.

“For most of these victims, their lives have always lacked parental guidance. Pimps offer them comfort as a father- or boyfriend-figure to gain their trust, and then start the physical and psychological abuse as they’re forced into trafficking. They are afraid to run for fear of being severely beaten, gang raped or having their family threatened,” says Rikard. “These girls are controlled from such a young age; they’re told when and what to eat, what to wear, when to go to the bathroom. A lot of them never learned basic skills like budgeting, intentional scheduling, or even using a dishwasher. They don’t have hobbies or skills because no one has taken time to cultivate them.”

Doors to Freedom helps these residents learn to make choices, discover that they have dreams and goals, and leads them on a path to reach them. Using a three-phase program, staff dedicate their time to building trusting relationships with these victims, helping them overcome their anxieties and fears developed from what they have endured, and teaching them the life skills they are lacking. The girls will be able to stay at Doors to Freedom for up to two years before Phase 3 transitions them into a therapeutic foster home.

“We help these young girls realize their value and restore their dignity to become whole, young women. We help them go back into the world and follow their dreams,” says Rikard.

Many thanks to those who have joined the SMHa design team to provide free-of-charge services and even some materials to help make Doors to Freedom’s new home a reality: DWG Consulting Engineers, S&ME, Inc. and PASCO.

If you’d like to help make a difference for Doors to Freedom, you can donate online at www.doorstofreedom.com or send a donation to the mailing address:

Doors to Freedom                                                                                                                   1317 M North Main Street                                                                                                     #263                                                                                                                                       Summerville, SC 29483


What defines a building's legacy?

One of the frequent discussions in the SMHa studio is how do we design buildings that are timeless. We are conscious of and strive for the necessary alignment of meeting our client's functional priorities with relevant and exceptional architecture.  How then, do you measure a building's legacy?

Witold Rybczynski's latest article published in Architect magazine addresses the notion of legacy for two Seattle buildings and asks the question what defines a building's legacy and whether real accolade and measure of success are better left defined by time.

"Buildings are given the thumbs up - or down - on opening day, prior to being put into use."

Some designs are born in an atmosphere of hype and exposure, lauded by those in the "know" and praised for their groundbreaking approach as a sign of progress. Other designs quietly appear in the public realm without much, if any notice, yet are these designs any less successful?  Maybe more so. 

Perhaps we should all take a fresh eye as we move through our cities, our buildings, our homes to reflect on how they aged, how they function and how this might inform the next generation of buildings.




"Where Girls...and architecture...are Champions"

OK, so we may have used a little artistic license by expanding the "Where Girls are Champions" motto of Ashley Hall to include architecture.  It seemed fitting though, at least this week, after the City of Charleston Department of Planning, Preservation and Sustainability recognized the new Dining Commons at their Awards for Design Excellence on October 17th.  One of only five projects citied, the Dining Commons demonstrates the value of appropriate architecture for its place; a goal of the Ashley Hall leadership as well.

View from Rutledge and Vanderhorst streets

View from campus










SMHa was fortunate to have been a small part of this latest chapter of this 103 year-old prestigious and private girls school, by providing the design services for their newest facility.  Located on the corner of an enclosed urban campus, the structure needed to address many scales: city, campus and student. To support the surrounding urban context the building proudly holds the corner, provides a public, yet secure facade and defines the street edge with an architectural aesthetic in line with the existing traditional campus architecture. The architectural solution experienced from the campus interior welcomes the girls each day for their mid-day meal.


This dining facility was designed to not only nourish students, but also to teach the concepts of healthy nutrition and total wellness. The building consists of a dining facility, private dining area, student lounge, servery/teaching kitchen, and prep kitchen. To maximize the building's usefulness, Ashley Hall operates an after school program in the facility and offers fitness classes on its activity roof. Many features of the building were designed to allow sustainable practices such as reducing food waste volumes and eliminating cooking equipment that produces unhealthy foods. The building itself also includes high efficiency mechanical and electrical systems and thoughtful building enclosure design to reduce energy loss and heat gain.  


Final products like these certainly "take a village." The team members that worked in concert with the Ashley Hall leaders include:

Ashley Hall: Jill Muti (Head of School), Fred Reinhard (Project Manager)

Architecture: Sam Herin, Margie Longshore of Stubbs Muldrow Herin architects

Landscape Architecture: DesignWorks

Civil / Structural Engineering: ADC Engineering

Mechanical / Electrical Engineering: DWG Consulting Engineers

General Contractor: Hill Construction


SMHa thanks Ashley Hall for the opportunity and the City of Charleston for the honor.  Click on this link to see the evening's presentation as well as the great architectural company we keep.