Entries in Mount Pleasant (6)


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.


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. 


The Importance of Collaboration

Creativity exists in architecture for a vast number of reasons. One of those reasons is that there is no single right answer to a design problem. Some of our greatest designs are products of architects collaborating to find the best solutions for clients. This morning was an impromptu brainstorm among designers. Sometimes we set aside a few hours to plan, lunch, discuss, break away for some quiet time to sketch before coming back together as a group. Sometimes there is beer! Anything to get those creative juices flowing.

Mount Pleasant Academy's students enjoy the results of one such impromptu brainstorm every day.

The Problem: We need to raise the site. Current flood zone regulations required raising the finished floor level of the school five feet higher than the previous building.

The Solution: What about an amphiteater? Rather than bringing in new fill dirt, an amphiteater was carved into the sloping back yard of the school, providing the soil needed to raise the site and creating a stunning outdoor learning space that overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway.

Finding the best solution is not always that easy, but when great minds come together, even greater things can happen.





Bowman Place: A New Chapter for an Old Shopping Center

Believe it or not, the old Kmart shopping center on Bowman Road in Mount Pleasant used to be a lively place.  It offered convenient shopping to those who lived on what was considered the ‘northern end’ of Mount Pleasant 35 years ago, before WalMart moved into neighboring Wando Crossing and well before the town’s population exponentially grew northward.

Today as you pass by, it’s hard to imagine the now empty shopping center in its heyday, but by the Fall of 2015 a new chapter will begin! 

Bowman Place, as it will be known, is undergoing a major aesthetic facelift that will breathe new life into the tired façade.  The flurry of rumors floating around Facebook have been officially confirmed – Dick’s Sporting Goods and Nordstrom Rack are co-anchoring the shopping center within the footprint of the old Kmart!  Shoppers of the Lowcountry, rejoice!

While a small section of the buildings towards Bowman Road will be removed to improve access to the property, space is being provided for up to four additional future tenants. 

We are excited to be part of this revitalization and to help Grove Property Fund LLC write a new chapter for Bowman Road!


The Value of Great Architecture

Roper Medical Plaza / Cross Creek Medical Office BuildingLast week, two of SMHa’s projects were featured in a Post & Courier article discussing the growing need for medical office buildings in the Charleston area to accommodate the aging Baby Boomer population, who need increasingly more access to medical care.  Those two buildings – Tides Medical Arts Center and the Roper Medical Plaza (originally known as Cross Creek Medical Office Building) – sold for millions more than it cost the original developers to build them, one even breaking the record per-square-foot price in the Charleston area.

While high quality design is not the lowest cost option, the investment and forethought pays dividends.  We are proud that our services create such value for our clients. Tides Medical Arts Center   Roper Medical Plaza / Cross Creek Medical Office Building