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Filtering by Tag: SouthCarolina

2019 AIASC DESIGN AWARD WINNERS ANNOUNCED

Mez Joseph

The American Institute of Architects, South Carolina Chapter (AIASC) recently announced the 2019 recipients of the annual AIASC Design and Chapter Awards, which encourages and recognizes design excellence throughout South Carolina, and promotes public awareness of the role architects play in shaping the quality of life in their communities. Awards were presented on Thursday, September 26, 2019 in Columbia SC. This year’s design awards were given in New Construction, Residential Design, Adaptive Reuse, Historic Preservation and Interior Architecture to projects located in communities throughout the state. 

Other chapter awards presented this year included:
The Community Collaboration Award – bestowed upon programs, institutions, or individuals who advance the public understanding and appreciation of design in the built environment, or for a project exhibiting exceptional engagement of the community in the design process.
The Patron Award – bestowed upon elected officials, public administrators, or community leaders who contribute to the development of laws, regulations, or policies that affect architecture, or the public’s perception of architecture, as an important part of our environment, life-style, and heritage.
The Social Justice Award – given to an individual or group that has demonstrated the power of a participatory design process to eliminate inequities in the built environment and for distinguished work embodying social responsibility to actively address relevant issues.

Liollio would like to congratulate Richland Library on being awarded with both The Patron Award and The Social Justice Award! We would also like to join in celebrating with our clients, the Town of James Island SC, Richland Library, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, for being awarded an Honor Award in New Construction for James Island Town Hall, a Merit Award in New Construction for Richland Library St. Andrews, and a Citation Award in New Construction for An Outdoor Room: Department of Veterans Affairs.

Liollio is honored for the recognition of our work and collaboration with outstanding clients and project teams. Congratulations to all of this year’s award winners and design teams for their exceptional project submissions! View the SCA Magazine for this year’s winning projects: aiasc.org/scadigital/ view the SCA Magazine.

Post & Courier: SC Welcome Centers Getting Some Overdue Attention to Impress Travelers

Mez Joseph

By Dave Munday
dmunday@postandcourier.com
Jun 23, 2018

When it comes to tourism, never underestimate the importance of a restroom. Providing public restrooms and making them easier for visitors to find has been the topic of much discussion in Charleston.

Public facilities with innovative designs can be a visitor attraction in themselves, as noted by the annual International Toilet Tourism Awards. The awards by MyTravelResearch.com were created "to show the close link between innovative, clean toilets with great design and a successful local tourism economy — or as we like to call it the trickle down effect."

For example, a public restroom in Lucas, Kan., called Toilet Bowl Plaza, is noted as a big visitor draw. The building itself was designed in the shape of a toilet, and the inside is covered with mosaics and quirky creations by local artists.

The public restrooms at the welcome centers along the major arteries leading into South Carolina have been a prime focus lately of state tourism officials. The nine official welcome centers play a key role in the state's economic development, according to Duane Parrish, director of the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.

"Over 80 percent of visitors to South Carolina come by car," Parrish said. "First impressions mean everything." Eight welcome centers ring the Palmetto State, capturing visitors coming from every direction. The other one is near the middle. When Parrish took over PRT seven years ago, he said, the welcome centers were pretty shoddy and unimpressive — restrooms, vending machines, a small space to pick up some brochures or ask a question. They were only open five days a week, closed Mondays and Tuesdays to save money.

The Department of Transportation turned over maintenance to PRT in July 2014. The tourism agency got about $4.5 million from DOT to maintain the centers this year, according to DOT's budget report. The restrooms were cleaned up, landscaping and flowers added. That was just the beginning.

There are no plans to make the restrooms worthy of a Toilet Award, but the centers themselves are being overhauled. Two have been completely rebuilt in the last two years, costing about $4.5 million each. One is at Hardeeville on Interstate 95 just north of the South Carolina-Georgia state line, replacing a center that opened in 1978. The other is at Fort Mill on I-77 south of the North Carolina border, replacing one that opened in 1981.

The new Hardeeville welcome center, on I-95 just over the border from Georgia, is much more spacious and high-tech than the old one, and the exterior reflects the colors of Lowcountry sandy soil and beach sand. Provided/SCPRT/Perry Baker

The exterior of the rebuilt Fort Mill welcome center, on I-77 south of the North Carolina border, was designed to resemble the clay color variances of the Catawba pottery native to the area. Provided/Paul Warchol/Liollio Architecture

Construction on a new Dillon welcome center in the Pee Dee region, on I-95 just south of the North Carolina border, is set to start later this year. The current Dillon center opened in 1973.

The newer centers are more spacious and modern than their predecessors. Rather than just racks of brochures advertising the state's attractions, high-definition screens on the walls stream live webcams from around the state. The exteriors are designed to reflect the local culture. For instance, the new Dillon center looks like a farm house typical of the rural, tobacco areas of the Pee Dee.

5b2baf74bd526.image.jpg

The new Dillon welcome center, on I-95 south of the North Carolina border, will resemble a farm house typical of the rural, tobacco areas of the Pee Dee. Provided rendering/Jeff Lewis Architect

Parrish said the goal is not only to let travelers know about the state's attractions but to give them the impression that South Carolina is on the cutting edge. "It's not only important for tourism but also for economic development," he said. "We don't want them to look dated."

About 3.5 million visitors a year step inside the welcome centers, according to PRT. The agency spends about $1.5 million a year to staff them with trained travel counselors versed in South Carolina history and culture.

The counselors welcome visitors, answer questions, give out coupons and occasionally make reservations. The department says its counselors made about $2 million in hotel reservations last year, even though the centers are equipped with wireless Internet service so travelers can do it themselves over their phones. “It’s a chance for us to have that personal touch," Parrish said. "No matter how great technology gets, nothing will ever replace the 'human touch.'

"Businesses that cater to tourists can put their brochures in the center for free. PRT reports about $88,000 a year from selling spaces for bigger ads.

For instance, the Santee welcome center — the one near the center of the state on I-95 south, near I-26 — is the closest to Charleston, and also one of the smallest. The town of Mount Pleasant has a poster on the glass front door. It says, "Where Rush Hour is a pleasant surprise, but still leaves you speechless." There's a photo of some dolphins a driver might see while crawling over the Ravenel Bridge or Shem Creek.

Around the corner, on the path leading to the women's restroom, Drayton Hall advertises its new visitors center. Inside, a wall panel advertising North Charleston has a photo of the boardwalk at Riverfront Park with the slogan “always take the scenic route.”

The tourism department doesn't get any money from the vending machines. Those are reserved for entrepreneurs through the S.C. Commission for the Blind's Business Enterprise program, which includes hiring drivers for those who can't see well enough to drive. The policy is a federal mandate under the Randolph-Sheppard Act.

It would seem the state could make some extra money selling T-shirts or other souvenirs, but that's not allowed along interstate highways under the 2012 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act.

Reach Dave Munday at 843-937-5553.

Blueprint for Business: SC Architects on the front line of a Building Boom

Mez Joseph

Warren L. Wise
843-937-5524
wwise@postandcourier.com

Drive down any major street in South Carolina’s largest cities, and it’s not hard to miss the mass of workers in hardhats or the construction cranes towering over once-vacant lots.  From apartments to hospitals and hotels to homes, the building boom is at full throttle.

But before any of those structures get off the ground, they need a blueprint. That’s where architects come in.The people who draw up plans and pencil in details sit on the front line of the economic upswing enveloping the country, and many are busier than ever.

Firms with offices in Charleston and projects across the state and elsewhere say workloads are healthy, competition is steep and the foreseeable future shows no signs of a slowdown.

“The Southeast is hot,” said Tom Hund, a principal who leads the Charleston office of Greenville-based McMillan|Pazdan|Smith Architecture. “It’s one of the best growth zones in the country. It’s quality of life. It’s manufacturing. It’s retirees. And when you narrow it down regionally, the Charleston region is leading the charge.”

He pointed to diversity in the growth of manufacturers such as aerospace and automotive suppliers along with upticks in housing, retirement communities, resorts and tourism as all contributing to the demand.

“In all of those markets, there is great activity,” Hund said.

“We were once known as a tourist city and nowwe are known as a manufacturing and tech city, too,” Hund said of Charleston. “As one market may grow, another may slow, so we have an opportunity for balance. I see a really nice diversity here.”

Marc Marchant, leader of LS3P Associates Ltd., a regional firm based in Charleston, characterized the design market across South Carolina as “shifting into high gear.”

“We are all optimistic about the future and continued growth,” he said, pointing to expansion of the automotive sector near Charleston, a tire manufacturer coming to Orangeburg and continued industry expansion across the Upstate. “I think there is plenty of room for more growth.”

At Liollio Architecture of Charleston, which focuses primarily on public-sector projects, principal Dinos Liollio is bullish on the market across the state and the region.

“I think it’s strong, and I’m very optimistic that it will remain strong,” Liollio said. “Even with a little bit of increase in interest rates, I don’t think it will disturb the building program. Public entities and foundations are in pretty good shape to invest in a robust building program.”

The Midlands market is “robust” as well, according to Doug Quackenbush, president of Quackenbush Architects + Planners. His Columbia f irm handles publicsector projects such as schools, where work is more steady than the cyclical nature of private-sector buildings such as apartments, hotels or office buildings, but in talks with colleagues working with pr ivate- sector desig ns, Quackenbush said, “It seems like right now both are prettyhealthy.”He believes escalating construction costs will eventually lead to a slowdown, especially in the private sector, but the need in K-12 education is so great across the state, the explosion of work will continue.

Among some of the projects Quackenbush is now working on are two elementary schools in Rock Hill, a renovation and addition to an elementary school in the Conway/Myrtle Beach area and an addition to a middle school in Chapin near Columbia.

Quackenbush believes prospects for higher education construction projects are more muddled because of funding restraints, but his firm is involved in the design of the $50 million football operations center which recently broke ground on Bluff Road for the University of South Carolina.

The design and construction market along the Grand Strand shows few signs of letting up either.

“Similar to Charleston, the Myrtle Beach market is growing,” said Marchant of LS3P, which also operates an office in the resort city. “We are seeing more beachfront opportunities, more restaurants and renovations.”

Two of the larger retail projects LS3P is involved with are the redevelopment of Barefoot Landing and Broadway at the Beach.

“They are regenerating the retail experience in many locations, including those two,” Marchant said.

Working with Change

Because of all the construction going on now, Hund said some municipalities, such as Charleston, struggle with how much is too much.

“The architects have to respond to that and remain innovative and creative, which is a challenge,” he said. “The better ones get it done.”

There is so much work, it is putting pressure on the design and construction industries to keep up, architects say. Not surprisingly, clients also are finding it more of a challenge when looking for help, especially for home additions and other smaller jobs.

In Charleston, design is strictly regulated with standards on the cusp of being tweaked, adding another layer to detailed plans. But Hund said proposed changes to the city’s architectural standards actually mean the construction industry is doing so well that new guidelines merit attention.

“That all points to a booming economy and efforts to preserve a quality way to design,” he said. “We want to contribute to our community through the architecture.”

Among the construction projects McMillan|Pazdan|Smith is involved in are the Medical University of South Carolina’s Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital, the proposed 225-room hotel slated for the current site of the State Ports Authority’s headquarters on Concord Street, a new high school in Mount Pleasant and retail village at the developing, mixed-use Nexton community near Summerville.

The firm also is designing an expansion for the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center in the Midlands.

No one knows when the next downturn will hit — some economists say it’s two years out at the earliest — but larger projects, such as apartments or hotels just now taking shape, will take about two years or so to develop and there are other developments in the pipeline, accordingto architects.

“It’s cyclical, so we have to be prepared for that,” Hund said.

Maintaining an Edge

At LS3P, some of the more recently completed projects include the seven-story Tides IV condominium building in Mount Pleasant and the expansion of Myrtle Beach International Airport’s terminal.

Among the firm’s 300-plus projects being designed or under construction at any given time are plans for MUSC’s pediatric ambulatory surgery center headed for the corner of Mall Drive and Rivers Avenue in North Charleston.

Its work also will soon be seen in downtown Charleston with the development of a multistory apartment building at the juncture of Spring and King streets and two others on upper Meeting Street near where the former Cooper River bridges touched down.

With seven other offices across three Southeastern states, the firm recently completed work on an Institute of Innovation for Richland County School District 2 near Columbia.

Marchant said it’s refreshing to see a focus on such educational facilities because they help to train students for the technical jobs sprouting up across the state, not only from local companies but also outside investors. He pointed to the firm’s design work on the new aeronautics training center being developed at Trident Technical College as another example.

Competing for Workers

Marchant noted the educational facilities also will help with one of the challenges facing the construction industry in a revved-up economy: qualified workers for subcontractors.

“As more projects come out of the ground, for subcontractors, so many of those markets become strained,” Marchant said. “Will they be supported by people coming from outside or will they grow locally? And how do we support it from an education standpoint, which is where the technical education system is very helpful?”

Because of the volume of work going on in Charleston and across the state and nation, competitionfor workers is steep.“If there is any issue, it is trying to find qualified help,” Liollio said.

Quackenbush, too, noted, “It’s very hard to find good people.”

Marchant added, “We are competing with firms all over the country to attract good talent. That’s a healthy thing for talent and work. That means the industry is strong.”

Hund, too, pointed to architects working in the firm’s Calhoun Street office and said they get calls from other agencies trying to lure them away.

“It’s very competitive right now,” he said.

National Stage

Liollio characterized the building and design industry across the state as “very healthy” and said, “Most architectural firms are very busy.”

His firm is seeing a lot of activity in municipal work and more emphasis on senior living facilities as the huge bubble of the population known as baby boomers slips into retirement.

“One of the things we are seeing right now is more optimism out of our clients as far as their building programs,” Liollio said. “They are more optimistic about the economy going forward.”

His small firm, with 27 employees and plans to add three more, is working on about four dozen projects in South Carolina and beyond, including the planned new business school for The Citadel.

Liollio’s work includes a preservation project at the Caroliniana Library at the University of South Carolina in Columbia and renovation of one of the student housing units on the historic Horseshoe at the state’s flagship college.

Other projects include work at Historic Brattonsville in York County, the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace in Kentucky.

His firm helped w it h the award-winning makeover of Charleston International Airport and is helping to draw up plans for a new parki ng deck at Cannon Street and Courtenay Drive near the Medical University of South Carolina.

Marchant of LS3P, which has three other South Carol i na of f ic e s in Columbia, Greenville and Myrtle Beach, noted one of the biggest changes during the past five years is interest from outside investors, bringing more work to local architects.

For every project rising from the ground, he said five studies might have proceeded it for the site’s highest and best use.

“We have a lot of other clients who are prospecting,” Marchant said. “They want to know, ‘What can I put there? What’s the feasibility of that? What’s the return on investment?’ We do a lot of study work with different clients. People are still very much interested in Charleston and the Lowcountry.”

He also pointed out Charleston is now on a national stage with its high-profile industries and tourism accolades, and that means more competition for contracts.

“In a project of any substantial size, say $10 million or more, we are seeing a lot of interest in design across the Southeast competing for work here,” he said. “We sort of have to earn our keep.”

Panelists Say Recession Created Pent-Up Demand For Projects

Mez Joseph

Principal Dinos Liollio joined panelists at the Charleston Regional Business Journal's Power Breakfast last Thursday. Panelists discussed how the Lowcountry seems to have recovered from the recession and is now seeing the effects of pent-up demand for capital projects.

From Charleston Regional Business Journal
By Liz Segrist

Photo: Kim McManus

Several years after the recession, construction is booming and cranes are looming over new developments throughout Charleston.

The demand for buildings in the multifamily, residential, commercial, higher education, health care and mixed-use segments remains high as the region’s population grows, according to several panelists at the Charleston Regional Business Journal’s Power Breakfast on Thursday in North Charleston.

“Charleston has been so blessed,” said Dinos Liollio, principal of Liollio Architecture.  “We have been greatly insulated — if not isolated to some extent — from the recession that the country as a whole has felt. ... I think what we’re seeing now is all of the pent-up demand that has been created over the last five to six years as a result of the down economy. We are seeing it in higher ed, particularly now that so many people can go forward with their capital campaigns.”

Janette Alexander, a design and construction project manager for Charleston County, said she believes Charleston is out of the recession, although she said the region did not reach the same depths of economic crisis as other cities.

“We were very, very busy pre-recession and it does feel like we’re back and beyond that,” said Alexander, also a member of Charleston’s Board of Architectural Review. “Beyond the dam bursting of pent-up work that needed to happen, it seems like there is a lot of optimism on where Charleston is going.”

Chappy McKay, development vice president and partner at Trident Construction in Charleston, said the Lowcountry is “somewhat in a sprint between cycles.”

Although he has seen a lot of need for new construction in the last two years, he said some segments are slowing down. A somewhat muffled economy is buoyed by the region’s manufacturing sector, tech industries and the region’s ability to attract new businesses and residents, McKay said.

Melissa Polutta, owner of Trash Gurl LLC, a waste management business, said Charleston’s ability to draw new industry, tourists and residents enabled many construction companies to get back on their feet post-recession.

Her company, which she co-founded with her husband, Jeff, in 2009, has expanded with new services and new projects, including work on Volvo Cars’ new automotive campus under construction in Berkeley County.

Phillip Ford, executive vice president of Charleston Home Builders Association, said permits are up and demand is strong for new housing and residential communities.

Ford said the region faces a major challenge regarding adequate infrastructure — such as more highway capacity and improved roads — to handle the growth.

Finding enough skilled workers to meet the region’s housing needs is another major hurdle for the homebuilding and construction industries.

“Our concern is can we keep up with demand? There is a lack of trained labor. We can’t find anyone to frame houses or plumb houses,” Ford said. “So you can sell houses, but if you can’t build them, that’s a problem. Selling them is not a problem. Building them is, at the moment.”

Visit the CRBJ article here.