What are you working on?
I’m currently working on a couple of large residential design projects, for a home on Paris Mountain and another in Cross Anchor, South Carolina. In addition, I’m working on a community project, designing amenities at the Conestee Natural Preserve.
I’m also working on the firm’s McClaren Clinic project, restoring the former McClaren Medical Shelter on Greenville’s West side. This is a project honoring Dr. Edward E. McClaren and his significance to Greenville’s black community in the 50s and 60s. The firm is working with The Urban League of the Upstate to upfit the restored facility for the Urban League’s Project Health Program.
It’s a good mix of creative and community projects.
Do you see more interest in restorative design?
Yes. Many of our projects involve restoration of urban areas. There’s a lot of history and charm in the older parts of the cities we work in. Clients see that rehabilitating those pieces of the urban fabric is often more rewarding than building on undeveloped sites.
We promote restorative design, as it’s one of our key values and something we try to implement. The firm is currently working with the South Carolina African American Heritage Commission on a Green Book house in Greenville. The SCAAHC mission aligns well with our commitment to social justice and economic opportunity.
The firm is also working on The Settlement in Simpsonville, a Crescent Homes development. These are single-family homes with a Lowcountry feel and we’re working on various amenity buildings and two mixed-use building.
Johnston Design Group supports social justice and economic equity. How does your work tie into those initiatives?
These are an animating force at the firm and fundamental to restorative design. These values influence the type of projects we take on and the clients we work with. People often have preconceived notions about what works and they’re comfortable with traditional design approaches.
We try to educate clients about the advantages of restorative design. We show them how it makes homes more livable and energy efficient. We also show them how restorative design makes community developments work for everybody — not just the one percent.
What are your short- and long-term goals as a firm associate?
As an associate, I want to be a leader. Scott and I talk about my responsibilities and role as an associate, and I want to play a key role in business development. I enjoy working hand in hand with Scott and showing prospects who we are, what we do and what we stand for.
This is a diverse firm, with a range of ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. I’m conscious of the fact that there aren’t many black architects in Greenville and I’m the only black architecture professor at Clemson. I’m mindful that representation matters. I hope that I can show young aspiring architects of color that there is a place for them in this profession and that our work in architecture will influence our culture significantly.