Based in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, SeamonWhiteside (SW+) is a full service land design and development firm offering civil engineering and landscape architecture expertise.
Specializing in surveying, land planning, civil engineering, landscape architecture, urban design, development management services, permit coordination services and construction administration, SeamonWhiteside serves clients throughout the Southeast, although its real niche is working within South Carolina where the company has helped design numerous residential, mixed use, commercial and sports and leisure developments since its inception in 1985.
“We estimate that a majority of Mount Pleasant residents live in communities that we’ve designed,” says landscape architect Gary Collins, the firm’s director of client services. “The area that we’re in has expanded tremendously over the last 30 years.” When SeamonWhiteside was first formed, Mount Pleasant was a small town of 18,000 to 20,000. Today the large coastal town sandwiched between Charleston and Francis Marion National Forest boasts close to 80,000 residents, many of whom live in SeamonWhiteside-designed communities.
“SW+ doesn’t just work in the residential design sector. We have designed and engineered many large-scale commercial, municipal, educational and athletics based projects – several of which are considered iconic in the area,” says Collins. Towne Centre, a SeamonWhiteside hallmark project, is one of the most successful shopping areas in the Lowcountry.
Founded by landscape architect Kenny Seamon and civil engineer Stuart Whiteside, the two came together in the mid-1980s to leverage one another’s expertise and offer a full-service planning and engineering service unlike anything else on the market.
“That combination of engineering and architecture is really what sets us apart,” says Collins. “Aside from designing buildings, we do everything involved in land development. “
SeamonWhiteside believes in providing comprehensive land development services. Many of the firm’s projects begin as a big idea. The firm helps clients take their conceptualized idea and build it into a complete project that meets aesthetic, sustainable goals as well as practical financial requirements. SeamonWhiteside staff takes the work from initial concept through design development, construction documents, permitting and finally construction administration.
SeamonWhiteside serves a wide range of sectors, limiting itself only in the federal and government contract sector. Large public sector projects of the past few years include the Zucker Family Graduate Education Center for the Clemson University Research Institute, the Town of Mount Pleasant’s new town hall and multiple buildings on the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) in Greenville, South Carolina. “CU-ICAR is an interesting project due to its wide ranging influence in the region and its success as a public/private partnership. Clemson University joined with private firms such as BMW to create a unique campus environment. SeamonWhiteside has had the distinct honor of working on the campus since the very beginning in 2005,” says Collins.
At home in South Carolina
In addition to its headquarters in Mount Pleasant, SeamonWhiteside has an office in Greenville, South Carolina, allowing the company to work within some of the state’s fastest-growing communities. “We’re still doing large residential projects, but a lot of the growth is happening inland along the major transportation corridors,” says Collins. One in particular, Nexton, is located 20 miles inland from Charleston, in Summerville, South Carolina. The new suburb is a contemporary living community sited on 5,000 acres.
“The first phase was creating a mixed-use community with office buildings, a research facility, apartments, restaurants and hotels and now they’re moving into phase two, which is the development of the residential neighborhood,” says Collins. By the time construction is wrapped on Nexton, the development could include as many as 3,000 new residential units.
“The new elementary school opened this year, so now we’re working on the office buildings and the infrastructure of the ponds, streetscapes and everything like that,” says Collins. SeamonWhiteside has been involved with the project for the last eight years, from planning to permitting, and Nexton will be a solid source of work for the company for years to come. “It’s probably got 10 to 15 years of development left in it,” notes Collins.
Along with engineering and landscape architecture services, SeamonWhiteside is also performing construction management and closeout for the development, which is built on land owned by a large timber and landholding company that has been freed up to create a new residential development. “They’re starting to develop a lot of that land in the Southeast because they don’t need it for timber anymore,” says Collins.
Growing along with the state
While many in the industry suffered, SeamonWhiteside came out of the economic recession with a plan to be stronger than ever thanks to an increased focus on diversification. The Southeast has become a hot spot for large manufacturers looking to take advantage of favorable economic conditions — a trend that SeamonWhiteside has been able to take part in. SeamonWhiteside is presently at work master planning and providing site civil engineering for the 4,800 acre Camp Hall tract for Santee Cooper. The property is adjacent to the new Volvo plant.
“There are a lot of things going on in the Charleston region right now and with so many people coming here, infrastructure and growth are big challenges for the community,” notes Collins.
Collins credits SeamonWhiteside’s success and employee retention at least in part to a strong history of family ownership. “It’s unlike many places because the same two people have owned it for 30 years and they still act like a small family business,” says Collins. “We also create places that people can enjoy such as parks, tennis courts and recreation fields; many employees’ kids are playing on fields that SW+ helped design.”
SeamonWhiteside’s unique business model, merging civil engineering and landscape architecture will keep the company a leader in the growing South Carolina market for years to come.
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