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Blog

Spotlight On: Michael Edwards, AIA, LEED AP

Mez Joseph

A native of South Carolina, Clemson Graduate, and architect for more than 20 years, Michael Edwards, AIA, LEED AP, has had the privilege of designing hospice and palliative care facilities, senior facilities, community, commercial and residential projects. He focuses on leading project teams to create spaces that enhance the experience of users and that positively impact the quality of our environment. As Liollio’s Health & Wellness Leader, he create spaces that enhance the dignity of patients and families and that advance the safe and efficient delivery of care. Michael uses his personal experiences as a design guide and maintains a constant passion for each endeavor, encouraging experiential and healing design in every project. We sat down for a little Q&A with 2019’s first Spotlight On feature.

How long have you lived in Charleston?

A little over 14 years; we moved to Charleston when Michela was just 2 months old. Tyler had completed her post-graduate residency as a Healthcare Administrator at AnMed Health in the Upstate and decided to pursue Nursing at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Where did you grow up?
Belton, South Carolina – a small town in the Upstate

Are you married?
Celebrating our 16th anniversary in 2019; it all began with a blind date in September 2002, engaged New Years Eve 2002 and Married in June 2003.

Do you have children?
We have three children: Michela (14), Christian (12) and Nicholas (10)

What is your favorite thing in your house?
Our Sunroom is my favorite space in our house; a little over a year ago, Tyler and I decided to convert our Screened Porch into a conditioned escape. Over the course of a few months, Tyler and I demolished and reconstructed the space, playing Owner, Architect and Contractor. After getting the kids to bed, it’s so relaxing to enjoy a glass of wine and unwind. My second favorite place…my kids Harry Potter Cupboard under the stair that we created.

What do you like to do when you have free time?
What free time? Our free time really is when we take a break from everything and escape to an island getaway, spending time with our family, or hiking the Foothills Trail.

Do you have any pets?
We have two pets:  our awesome dog Sophie (almost 3 years old) and our cat PJ (10 years old); Sophie was a puppy when we rescued her from the Animal Shelter; PJ found us at Pet Helpers when we visited with our youngest son Nicholas when he was a year old – the other cats ran away while PJ cuddled up to Nicholas; to this day, Nicholas is the Cat Whisperer.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
While working at my prior firm, I was promoted to Principal and offered an Ownership opportunity. This was an awesome recognition and an opportunity that I had always looked toward. In 2008, the recession hit and I made the difficult decision to leave one family and join a new family at Liollio. This month marks my ten-year anniversary with Liollio. I’m proud to be leading our health + wellness market and a part of the executive leadership in such an awesome firm focused on design that enhances our community. I look forward to what the future holds. I think the proudest moment in my work is when the client’s Vision is realized in built form.

What building have you visited that most impressed you?
The Holocaust Museum in Washington DC designed by the late James Ingo Freed of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners; with every visit, I continue to be intrigued by the metaphorical nature of the details and strategic moves within the building that tell the story of such a tragic and horrific event.

What architect or architecture firm most influenced you as a student?
As a student, I often referred to Morphosis for inspiration; the firm’s unique design and graphic style influenced my love of experiential architecture and really led me to my Thesis focus: Architecture in the Realm of Theatricality. To study how we imprint our memories upon everyday things, I conducted a study utilizing “memory” boxes inspired by the work of Joseph Cornell; one of my key contributors was my grandmother with full-onset Alzheimer’s and her eloquence in describing how she related to the items (many of her own) embedded within the boxes.

What is your favorite country you have traveled to and why?
Italy. I was very fortunate to spend my Fall 1996 semester of Clemson’s graduate program in the Clemson Architectural Foundation’s Charles E. Daniel Center in Genova, Italy; to this day, Genova is my second home.

What is your favorite thing about working at Liollio?
There are so many things that I love but I think the most important aspect is the collaborative environment in which every person in the firm is involved in the design of every project.

What inspires you most?
My kids - all three are so unique in their own way; seeing them grow and develop is awesome.

What’s your favorite place in Charleston?
Since 1994 when I spent a semester at the Clemson Center in Charleston, I stumbled upon Longitude Lane, a beautiful, green, cobblestone alley nestled amongst the historic homes of the lower peninsula.

What is your favorite food?
Anything Italian, with the exception of that spaghetti with mussels and calamari that our cook in Genova served on occasion - not a fan of shells in my marinara.

Do you play any instruments?
My Mom taught me to play the Piano when I was 5 years old.  I still play but not as fluent as I had hoped I would be.  Luckily, the musical gene has been passed on to my kids. Michela sings, Christian is in theater (singing and dancing), and Nicholas plays the piano. Maybe they will teach me something.

What song is at the top of your most played list?
Imagine Dragon’s Rise Up - so much meaning in to me in its lyrics

Who is your favorite artist?
Painter: The Cubist Painter Georges Braque
Music: Maroon 5 & Imagine Dragon’s

Last book you read?
The Proxy by Alex London; believe it or not, I am a huge fan of young adult dystopian fiction which you can catch me reading when I do have a moment to just relax.

Last movie you watched?
Aquaman

Favorite movie or genre?
I’m a huge Marvel comics and DC comics movie fan; I never miss a movie and often see them multiple times.

Guilty pleasure?
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Where is your favorite place you’ve traveled to and why?
Honestly, any of my travels with my wife Tyler and the kids…so many awesome places traveled and yet to travel. I love Italy but more recently, a favorite of ours is Couples Resort Tower Isle in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Built in 1948, it is an awesome example of mid-century architecture and once the playground for 1950’s Hollywood celebrities.

What’s your astrological sign?
Sagittarius - and if you are a follower of the signs, I am truly Sagittarian.

What three traits define you?
Compassionate, Dedicated, Genuine

What’s one thing you couldn’t live without?
My family...they are my world.

What does true leadership mean to you?
Being there for someone when they need you the most; we can all share what wisdom we have or believe we have but, to me, the ability to listen is often the best quality of leadership.

If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?
I would love to have a job in the movie industry, whether it be in front of the camera or behind the camera in an artistic role. Film has always intrigued me.

What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13?
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there; believe in yourself and you can truly move mountains.

How do you define success?
Success is reaching a goal that you have set out to achieve but once there, don’t settle, continue to reach even higher.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
I’m from the small town of Belton, South Carolina; I was second in my class at Belton-Honea Path High School and was First Runner-Up in the Mr. BHP contest where I played Dick Tracy in the opening skit featuring all of the contestants and rafted across the stage in a tin washtub for the “sport” portion of the contest. Did I say I’m from the South?