Bill Eubanks, PLA, FASLA, discusses the importance and the advantages of P+LA for project design.
SGA | NarmourWright Design’s comprehensive approach to planning and landscape architecture (P+LA) has benefited a diverse range of clients. From initial site analysis, concept development, and master planning, SGA|NW’s services encompass and embrace the process, as well as the built result. Planning not only involves land forms, but regulatory processes, jurisdictional requirements, and the design and building components which create great communities. P+LA is an integral part of the SGA|NW process; the firm’s cross-discipline approach allows for a holistic design approach. This is particularly evident in our multi-family projects.
Clients often come to SGA|NW with a site that they are considering for a potential project. Quickly responding to their needs is critical, as they often have a small window of opportunity to lock in the property. Recent surveys of properties are often not available so the P+LA staff will work with GIS data and aerial information to create base sheets. They will also review the municipality’s comprehensive plan and zoning ordinances to determine the site’s parameters – or to advise if an annexation or rezoning might be recommended.
Then the P+LA team can quickly generate design concepts for the site, working with building footprints provided by staff architects. Sometimes there are multiple concepts featuring different building types. These are usually generated by hand, as speed and fluidity are crucial. Factored into these quick sketches are setbacks, buffers, easements, and other site constraints. Topography, vegetation, access, views, and the experience of the resident are also taken into consideration.
We ensure that the site can accommodate the client’s desired program, can efficiently meet parking requirements, and that it works well from a functional standpoint. Sometimes, we find that a site just will not work. Even these cases prove to be successful design exercises, as they provide information to the client, allowing them to either adjust their program for what the site can accommodate or to move on to a different potential site. Again, speed is the key.
Each site and each project provide a new opportunity for our P+LA team to find creative solutions for our clients, resulting in projects of lasting quality and value.
Planning and Landscape Architecture, is a licensed landscape architect. He graduated from the Fay Jones School of Architecture + Design at the University of Arkansas, where he was named a Distinguished Alumni in 2016 and currently serves on the Dean’s Circle. His practice focuses on community design, urban design, and the charrette process. He became a Fellow of the ASLA in 2007. He currently serves on the Ashley Bridge District Board, the Community Development Advisory Board of the City of Charleston, and the Advisory Board of the East Cooper Land Trust. He recently ended a six-year tenure on the ASLA Board of Trustees, bringing his total years on the Board to 12, including 2 years as ASLA Vice President for Membership. He is the recipient of numerous awards for planning and design.
Don Baus, AIA, LEED AP on how design of learning environments impacts learning and development.
Winston Churchill once said, “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on our communities’ schools as administrators navigate the minefield of political and safety considerations for reopening schools. Meanwhile, disruptions to home life persist as parents and guardians continue to juggle virtual, hybrid and adjusted school schedules with their own jobs, all while trying to maintain the mental health of both their children and themselves. From the cacophony of differing opinions on whether schools should open and how they may do so safely, there has been a common understanding that children need to be in school. From the structure of the environment, to the respite from difficult home environments, the importance the learning environment plays in child development and psychological wellbeing has been placed in the forefront. Recent developments in the field of neuroscience have also provided insights into how the architectural profession can measure not only how design influences behaviors and performance in a post-occupancy environment, but can also guide the design of learning environments so that they are truly part of the developmental equation. 
Many empirical studies support the effects of design on the environment and learning. For example, proper daylighting can help produce higher test scores, certain colors can induce feelings of relaxation or excitement, and images of nature can help to reduce stress and anxiety.  Architects can play a critical role in their ability to intuit these relationships between design and wellbeing—and by using a more cognitive approach to design—they can more predictably support the educators and administrators in holistically improving the learning process. While architects often reference a “kit of parts” in the published literature on design of learning environments , understanding the impact of these design decisions on students and educators is critical. It can provide a much deeper understanding of the effects of school environments on learning and inform how seemingly arbitrary decisions on form can have a meaningful and measurable impact on student outcomes. 
Similar to how imagery can induce feelings of fear, anxiety or pain, architectural form can also elicit neurological responses. For example, in a preference study on everyday objects, researchers found individuals had a preference for curved objects versus pointed objects, positing that it may be due to an innate fear of what a sharp object may represent. Similarly, it has been shown that hospital patients often have better outcomes when exposed to artwork with natural scenes over the rectilinear imagery of abstract art. 
If we can apply these design lessons to high stress environments such has hospitals, we should equally apply the same rigor to the design of educational environments that can have just as critical of an impact on human wellbeing and development. While collaboration between neuroscientists and architects is in its infancy, architects can begin by gaining insights from existing studies on the effects of environments on neurobiological processes and the neural and physiological responses to environmental features. If architects can build their understanding of not only how design can affect their end users, but also of their neurobiological response to those decisions, then our design can truly be part of the learning and development of the student and person as a whole.
 Coburn, Alex, Oshin Vartanian, and Anjan Chatterjee. 2017. “Buildings, Beauty, and the Brain: A Neuroscience of Architectural Experience”.
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 29 (9): 1521-1531. doi: https://doi.org/10.1162/jocn_a_01146.
 Nanda, Upali, Debajyoti Pati, Hessam Ghamari, and Robyn Bajema. 2013. “Lessons from neuroscience: form follows function, emotions follow form”. Intelligent Buildings International 5 (sup1): 61-78. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/17508975.2013.807767.
 Nair, Prakash, and Randall Fielding. 2005. The Language of School Design: Design Patterns for 21st Century Schools. 1st ed. DesignShare.
 Coburn, Vartanian, and Chatterjee. “Buildings, Beauty”.
Don, the Chief Operations Officer of SGA|NW and Partner of the firm, has over 25 years of experience designing and managing projects, specializing in K-12 education. His role as Principal allows him to oversee design, production, project management, and client relations. Don is currently working with Charleston County School District on the new West Ashley Center for Advanced Studies, with Richland School District Two on renovations to Ridge View High School, and with Dorchester School District Two on the design of a new middle school at Beech Hill.
As active members of our communities, we recognize the need and importance of providing safe and attainable housing for those experiencing difficulty finding housing. We at SGA | NarmourWright Design value our role in helping to create communities where our neighbors can thrive, and in providing places for all to call home.
Supportive Housing is a type of affordable housing that assists people who face certain challenges such as homelessness, addiction, disability, or a need for emergency housing. Supportive Housing often combines housing with services to support a more stable and secure environment for these residents. Depending on the development, services can range from various types of counseling, budgeting and personal finance, and even legal services.
According to the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities “Living without stable housing can drastically worsen health. Homelessness can exacerbate mental illness, make ending substance abuse difficult, and prevent chronic physical health conditions from being addressed. [Our] research supports four main conclusions:
- Supportive housing helps people with disabilities live stably in the community.
- People with disabilities in supportive housing reduce their use of costly systems, especially emergency health care and corrections.
- Supportive housing can help people with disabilities receive more appropriate health care and may improve their health.
- People in others groups, including seniors trying to stay in the community as they age and families trying to keep their children out of foster care, likely also benefit from supportive housing.”*
While this has always been an issue, the need for supportive housing has been highlighted by the current global conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The lack of housing affects people in cities and towns across the US, as well as abroad.
Tyvola Crossing Phase II, Charlotte, NC
There are various forms of architecture that address specific needs of supportive housing, and there are several different and specific regulations for these types of projects above and beyond typical building codes.
For supportive housing apartment communities, design concepts are similar to those of affordable housing, with design for built-in efficiencies, ease of constructability, and durable and easy to maintain material selections. The psychology of color plays more of a role in the interior design of these projects relating to the types of services provided than a standard multi-family housing development.
Emergency shelters are another type of project that sometimes fall under the Supportive Housing umbrella. One of the main goals of these projects is to reduce operating costs for the non-profits that run the shelter and provide the services. While it is often easier to raise money or receive grants for a building itself, the biggest expense of most non-profits is the operating costs of their facilities, as it is not as glamorous to donate to pay the power bill, or pay for upkeep.
SGA | NarmourWright Design is currently working with Lincoln County Coalition Against Domestic Violence to design a new double-envelope structure that will approximately double their current service level, both in terms of services provided, and the number of survivors served. Importantly, the organization will also be able to expand child-focused activities from simply “room and board” to tutoring, counseling, and play, where each is appropriate. Common meeting and training spaces will increase the effectiveness of basic financial training, legal assistance, interview skills training and other essential information for survivors who often need to rebuild their family’s lives from the ground up.
The design concept will be a low-maintenance, passive solar, near net-zero energy facility. This will enable reallocation of substantial operating and maintenance costs to increased services in perpetuity. If proven as successful as planned, the facility itself could become a national model for a low-cost provision of such local emergency services, and the design will be open sourced and shared with similar non-profits across the country.
Krista, a principal of the firm with 24 years of experience, handles operations from the day-to-day processes and procedures, production oversight and planning, and IT coordination, as well as ensuring project quality and employee performance are maintained. During her career, she has developed her proficiency in design and construction administration of numerous multifamily, municipal, commercial, higher education, and mixed-use projects.
Kelly, Associate and Charlotte Office Operations Director, brings over 15 years of experience in building design, project management, and construction management of multifamily, mixed use, and commercial projects. She takes pride in seeing projects through from conception to completion and her strengths are problem solving and delivering the client’s vision. She is also very involved in community outreach, and serves on the Board of Directors of CREW Charlotte.
SGA | NarmourWright Design is pleased to announce that Joseph O’Callaghan, ASLA, has successfully completed his landscape architectural registration exams and is a newly licensed landscape architect. Congratulations, Joe!