Category K-12 School

SeamonWhiteside & Green Heart Project Complete First of Three Urban Gardens

SIES Garden Build

SeamonWhiteside and Green Heart Project are excited to announce the completion of their first urban garden together at Sullivan’s Island Elementary. Since announcing their partnership earlier this year, SeamonWhiteside, and local nonprofit, Green Heart, have solidified plans to design and construct urban gardens at three local area schools. On September 21st, the first of those gardens will be opened for children attending Sullivan’s Island Elementary to enjoy.

“We can’t be more thrilled with how this project turned out, and look forward to seeing it in action with the students of Sullivan’s Island Elementary ” said Drew Harrison, the Executive Director of Green Heart Project. “The partnerships with Sullivan’s Island Elementary School, Charleston County School District and SeamonWhiteside have made our mission of connecting students to healthy food through school gardens possible. It truly was a community effort, and we are ready to get started on our next project.”

Green Heart will begin installation on the newest garden beds at Meeting Street Elementary @Brentwood on September 19th. SeamonWhiteside has assisted through the entire garden design process including an architectural consultation, charette, construction drawings and budgeting.

“Our team is looking forward to working side-by-side with Green Heart to break ground on the second urban garden,” said Russ Seamon, the Director of Projects at SeamonWhiteside. “This partnership gives us the opportunity to give back to our community by doing what we love – building meaningful spaces for people.”

Through the hands-on learning experience of growing an urban garden, the farm-to-school programs put on by Green Heart teach students the value of healthy, local food while reiterating classroom curriculum, teamwork, respect and entrepreneurship. The school gardens are maintained through class sessions and weekly volunteer hours. From seed to harvest, students participate in every aspect of the agricultural project.

Green Heart envisions sustainable gardens flourishing across Charleston County, and there are plans for a third garden to be constructed before the end of the 2015-2016 school year.

Community members are invited to the ribbon cutting of the Sullivan’s Island Elementary garden, 2015 Mike Perkis Place, Sullivan’s Island, SC 29482, on September 18th at 2:45pm. The unveiling of the plan for Meeting Street Elementary’s urban garden will take place on September 22nd at 3:30pm at 2685 Leeds Avenue, North Charleston, SC 29405.

To see more photos from the Sullivan’s Island Elementary School build, click here.

About Green Heart Project: Founded in 2009, the Green Heart Project is a 501©3 non-profit organization that builds urban gardens and farm-to-school programs in the Charleston Area. With a high value placed on health, education and community, the Green Heart Project pairs local volunteers with students to maintain school gardens while teaching academic standards and interpersonal skills. By doing so it looks to educate students and volunteers about healthy, local foods while fostering lasting relationships and building community. For more information on how to get involved, please visit our website at Follow us on Instagram and Twitter (@GreenHeartCHS)!


An Engineer’s Perspective



The New Mount Pleasant Academy Elementary School is Open for Business!


For me, the greatest reward of working in the construction industry is to see a completed project appreciated by those who use it every day.  Recently, the design team for the new Mount Pleasant Academy, headed up by local architects (SMHa), received a letter from a student expressing her excitement about the prospect of attending the new facility this school year. After three years of the ups and downs that go along with bringing any project of this magnitude to fruition, this simple letter thanking us made it worthwhile.

In many respects, I understand this student’s enthusiasm for the new facility.  The site design for MPA has been one of the most thought-provoking projects I have worked on since my start at SW+A and as cliché as it sounds, I do enjoy a challenge!  Due to the constraints of the shape of the existing property, the proximity of the adjacent residential area, the Town of Mount Pleasant’s baseball fields, and approximately 8’ of fill that was required to meet flood zone elevations, we needed to come up with some creative grading solutions…especially for here in the Lowcountry. In the end, two major design elements were chosen to tie the new school back into the existing lay of the land.

The first design element is the hill that overlooks the Town’s baseball fields.  The area not only adds a sense of connectivity and flow between the two properties, but also provides additional seating for the parents watching athletic games.  It has also been noted that this area may bring endless entertainment for any kid with a cardboard box.  The second element is the use of the stepped retaining walls to create the amphitheater at the rear of the school.  The walls were designed with kid friendly heights in mind and a stage at the base so the area may be utilized as an outdoor classroom.  Although, with unobstructed views to the marsh and out to the Sullivan’s Island lighthouse, it may be hard to keep the students’ attention!

The amphitheater and the hill to the playing fields are just two of the many aspects of MPA that make it unique.  It is my hope that they will be used and appreciated for many years to come.

School is Back in Session!


The students and faculty of Moultrie Middle School (MMS) have officially arrived at the new and improved location situated between SW+A’s Town of Mount Pleasant Farmer’s Market and Pocket Park. A project that was designed to LEED® certified standards, MMS is one of four new schools to open in the Charleston County School District for the 2009/2010 school year. While the two-story, 120,000 SF building (GBA) holds many green features, the site contains a variety of sustainable qualities as well.

First bell at the new Moultrie Middle School

First bell at the new Moultrie Middle School

With a plant palette containing mostly native plant species, the site includes the use of a central bioswale that catches drainage not only from the school site but also from the adjacent Farmer’s Market site. With the existing sandy soils, the bioswale provides infiltration for stormwater run-off without having to design multiple ponds on site. The bioswale also presents an aesthetic appeal and educational experience to students and faculty and also to parents as they circle it during the drop-off and pick-up of their children.

As a motive for alternative transportation, bike racks were provided, and the result exceeded everyone’s expectations. The racks, filled with several hundred bikes, certainly should be an inspiration to our communities and municipalities to evolve to a biker-friendly lifestyle. And speaking of creative influences, the east and west courtyards at MMS have great potential to be special gathering spaces that expand the children’s learning possibilities through sustainable materials and practices.

As reported by The Post & Courier, Jean Siewicki, Moultrie Middle School principal says that the new school is “the crown jewel of Coleman Boulevard.”

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