Category Urban Edge Studio

Respect * Responsibility * Recognition


A unique opportunity to pay our respects to our country’s WWII and Korean War veterans presented itself this week. Clint Rigsby, a Senior Landscape Architect in our Greenville, SC office, shared a news video of an Upstate South Carolina Honor Flight that carried his grandfather, James “Jimmy” Williams, Jr., USN and other WWII and Korean War vets to Washington D.C. to visit the memorials established in their honor. These vets have never had the opportunity to see these important monuments dedicated to their sacrifice‑an oversight that is being addressed by the Honor Flight Network.


Established in 2005, the Honor Flight Network works to make sure that each of our nation’s veterans, who want to participate, can. Between 1941 and 1945, approximately 16 million Americans served in the military. Today there are approximately 1 million surviving WWII veterans with an estimated daily loss of 550. The Korean War saw 5,720,000 men and women in uniform but today just over 2 million survive. In recognition of the decreasing number these veterans, the HFN assigned Priority 1 status to the men and women who served in WWII, with its second priority Korean War and then Vietnam War vets.  Terminally ill veterans of any war who have not visited the monuments in our nation’s capital are assigned a Priority 1 designation. It is the organization’s intent to continue to add veterans from other wars in chronological order—Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan Wars respectively.

Funded completely by donation, the non-profit group coordinates hundreds of flights from all over the county. Based on the statistics of surviving vets, it is important to note that the organization is working hard to provide trips for all who want them. In fact, in September 2014 alone, 48 Honor Flights are scheduled.


Hearing Clint’s granddad’s story, SW+ was inspired to compile a list of our colleague’s relatives who gave of themselves during World War II and the Korean War, hoping to share this post with our families. The list of family members who interrupted their lives, left their homes and jobs in order to serve this country in a time of great need is impressive indeed. Individual stories include a founding member of the Women’s Airforce Service Pilot program, a member of the crew of the ‘Big E’, the USS Enterprise CV-6 who was there for the Battle of Midway and Leyte Gulf, a soldier who participated in D-Day and a cartographer attached to Admiral Nimitz command in August 1945.

We also have discovered another grandfather who has enjoyed his own Honor Flight; this one out of Ohio in 2012. When we receive a copy of that video, we will update this post to include it.

Several of our military relatives were called back to duty for the Korean War, 1950-1953. Others who saw their fathers and grandfathers go off to war just a few years earlier, enlisted for their own service. Our SW+ family’s Korean War vets include an war experienced sailor, an Army medic, US Army Airborne paratroopers, a flight mechanic and a couple of combat pilots. Backing those combat troops, there are many whose service was in crucial support activities.

Each serviceman and woman has a special story about their wartime experiences and each deserves special recognition for their actions. This article is just one of the many ways we have to offer our thanks and eternal respect to those who fought for our way of life and the security of our nation. Please join us in celebrating the lives and sacrifices of our vets, living and passed.



Role Call

World War II

Richard Lichty Thompson, USN, USS Enterprise CV-6 (Midway, Letye Gulf), Pacific Theater
Avon Earl Thompson, USN, USS Barnes ACV-20, Pacific Theater
Ralph Bridges, US Army, European Theater
William Alfred Merritt, US Navy Seabee, Pacific Theater
William T. Eubanks, USMC, Corporal
James Williams, Jr, USN
Heber Blaine “Bud’ Blankhead, US Army Air Corp, Lt. Col., Pilot, 99th Bombardment Group, North Africa
Rudolph Vernon Yates, USN, Gunners Mate 2c, USS Trever DD 339, Pacific Theater
Leroy Blackwell, US Merchant Marines, 1st Mate, Oil Tanker, Pacific Theater
Grady L. Patterson Jr., US Army Air Corps, Fighter Pilot (P51-Mustang), Flew Sorties from Iwo Jima to Japan
James T. O’Neal, Jr., US Army, Participated in D-Day, European Theater
William Grice Gresham, Jr., US Army Artillery, Europe Theater
Thane Lechlitner, USN, 3rd Class, Flight Mechanic, Shanghi, China, Pacific Theater
John R. Timmons, Flight Surgeon, Amazon, Pacific Theater
Alice Lovejoy, WASP, Ferry Pilot, KIA 1944, Brownsville, TX
David Peterson, USN, Cartographer, Admiral Nimitz Staff, PACNAV Guam
Nels Stjern, US Merchant Marines, 2nd Asst Engineer, North Sea, Europe Theater
Claude David Hiott, Sr., USN, Chief, USS Vincennes CA-44 (Survivor); USS Iowa (Okinawa, Tokyo Bay)
Wendell Edward Ackerman, US Army, Sgt. Paratroop, European Theater
Joseph M. Bryant, USN
Clifford F. Messal, USN, Seabee, CM1c, NOB Argentia,1942; Navy Base Roger, 1943
Dr George Washington Brunson, Army Air Corps, Major, Flight Surgeon, Pacific Theater
Dermot Doyle, US Army Air Corp, S1c, USS Albermarle AV-5, North Africa
Ernest W. Hautala, US Army, Medic
Theodore Moss III, USN
Thomas James Dugan, USN
Frederick John Martschink, Jr. (Fred),  US Army, SSgt, 66th Infantry “Panther” Division, Survivor of sinking of the SS Léopoldville by Uboat, 12/24/1944, European Theater

Korean War

John M. Gastley, US Army, Alaska
Francis J. Langan, US Army Medic, Korea, US Army, Medic, Korea
Merrell Gene Howell, US Army Airborne, Korea
Robert Chester Thompson, USAF, Airman, Hamilton Air Force Base, San Pablo Bay
John H. Guess, US Army, 2LT, 24th Infantry Division, 19th Infantry Regt., Korea
Grady Leslie Patterson Jr, SC Air National Guard, Lt Gen, Fighter Pilot, Korea
Thane Lechlitner, USN, Flight Mechanic, Transport Squadron (R4D planes), Hawaii
Claude David Hiott, Sr., USN
Wendell Edward Ackerman, US Army, Paratroop, , Korea
Rick Campeau, USAF, SSGT, Control Tower Chief, Shaw Air Force Base
John Foster Ruth, USAF, 1st Lt., Biggs Air Force Base, El Paso
Jack Hautala, USMC, Cpl, Military Police – MOS 5831, Korea




Like a lot of design firms, SW+ offers summer internships to college students who are finishing up their degrees and need an introduction to the working world of their chosen discipline. In our case, these budding professionals are hankering to join the ranks of either landscape architects or civil engineers. Over the years we have enjoyed meeting and working with nearly 100 interns, some of whom came back to stay. Those talented folks who became full-time SW+ staffers have a few key characteristics in common.

Focus is Key to turning that summer internship into your  career kick off.

Focus is Key to turning that summer internship into your career kick off.

  • They are honestly excited about what they do.
  • They are interested in learning and take direction well.
  • They are able to view mistakes as opportunities for growth.
  • They are enjoy working hard and having fun.
  • They are willing and able to work with a diverse range of people.

A Few of Our Cinderella Stories

Lia Tomczak is our latest summer intern to make the transition to full time working stiff. Not being from ‘around here’ – she’s a Flint, Michigan girl and a graduate of Michigan State University (Go Green! Go White!) Lia brings a different perspective with her, which adds to the mix of ideas from which great design comes. A high energy, positive force of nature, she is currently working hard with our in-house urban design group, Urban Edge Studio.

Here’s what Lia has to say about life at SW+.

“After interning this past summer, I was fortunate enough to be hired full time into the SWA/UES family. I have learned more than I could have ever imagined during my time here. I’m excited to see what the future brings!”

Daniel Merritt came to us via Clemson University. Once he got settled in his intern’s cubical and started cranking out some well-executed graphics and showing off his AutoCAD skills, it was a match made in Heaven for the landscape architecture department. Easy going and reserved, Daniel is a “rudder in the storm” kind of guy who brings a sense of calm to our sometimes overly excited group.

When asked about his experience with SW+ so far, he said;

“Since I became part of the Seamon Whiteside family, my knowledge of landscape architecture has grown tremendously, and I feel truly involved in the projects I work on. It is wonderful to be part of a company that believes in doing things the right way, and works to ensure that everything, from the overall design to the smallest of details, is designed in the best way possible.”

Jenny Craig Germuth is most definitely our Cinderella story poster girl. Jenny first joined us as a junior in high school participating in the Wando High School internship program. The program encouraged students to gain real-world experience in their fields of interest giving them the opportunity to choose the right career path. Jenny pursued SW+ with the passion of becoming a Civil Engineer one day. She worked, learned, and grew right along with the rest of us, keeping up with the seasoned vets more often than not. Upon high school graduation, she went off to Clemson and embarked on a sparkling collegiate career. After working a few years with SCDOT, Jenny came back to SeamonWhiteside where she is an integral part of our civil engineering team.

We asked Jenny about her favorite SW+ memory and this is what she shared:

“I have gained so many wonderful memories with SW+ over the last 10 years and all of them together are what make me love working here. From the daily challenges of the job to football chatter and photo-shopped pics, company parties, philanthropy, and intermural sports, we all work together and play together as one big family. If I have to choose just one memory, it would probably have to be the office throwing me a Sweet 16th birthday party after work one day. It truly reflects the loyalty and integrity of the people working here. It is easy to take pride in what you do working for a company that takes pride in its people.”

David Prohaska is the solid right hand of the Nexton civil engineering team’s lead engineer. Interning during both his under graduate and graduate school programs, David showed strong leadership and engineering design skills throughout both of his internships. Now a licensed Professional Engineer and LEED Accredited Professional, David divides time between design and engineering, project management, client coordination, and mentoring a couple of our newer engineers.

David had to think about his question for a bit because he says there are lots of choices. We asked him, “What’s the thing you like most about your job.”

“I like the variety. Since I started at SW+, no two jobs have been alike so I’ve been able to gain a lot of experience in an assortment of different types of development quickly. It’s great that I’m not doing the same thing over and over. That daily challenges keep me interested and learning and definitely keeps me on my toes. It’s never dull.”

Who’s Next?

William O’Neal, now a Senior Engineer working with the commercial development team and Cameron Clements Liebetrau, a landscape designer who not only snagged a full-time gig with us but met her husband, former SW+ intern and employee, Ben Liebetrau, as well. We will stop by both of these SW+ Cinderella stories in the future for another look at what it takes to turn a summer internship into a career.

Projects: James E. Clyburn Research Center at MUSC

The Urban Edge Studio of SW+A recently completed the landscape architectural design for the James E. Clyburn Research Center at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).

UES worked with Columbia based architects Stevens and Wilkinson and Boston based architects Goody Clancy on the overall design. The James E. Clyburn Research Center is comprised chiefly of the Drug Discovery Building and the Bio-Engineering Building. The site is located near the heart of campus at President and Bee Streets in downtown Charleston and was previously a surface parking lot. The project is slated to be certified as LEED Silver. The project, from a landscape architectural aspect, is comprised of four main areas: the front plaza, the Medicinal Garden, the North Garden and the MUSC Urban Farm.

The large front plaza( addresses the challenge of transitioning from the grade of the street to the required building elevation and accommodating major pedestrian axes while creating an area for sitting, eating lunch, having a conversation with a colleague, or as a respite from the laboratory and the classroom. The landscape addresses many of the sustainability aspects of the project including water quality, reduced irrigation, reduced urban island heat effect, and use of local and recycled materials.

Located to the west of the Drug Discovery Building, between the Basic Sciences Building and the Colbert Library is the MUSC Porcher Medicinal Garden.

This area was previously a loading dock area and has been raised about 3 feet to the grade of the surrounding buildings. ( The garden is a tribute to Dr. Francis Peyre Porcher, an MUSC alumnus and professor who served as a physician during the Civil War. The garden is planted with more than forty species of plants selected from those cataloged in Dr. Porcher’s Resources of the Southern Fields and Forests (1863). Each plant grouping has an interpretive sign that provides information about its medicinal uses. The plants are located in raised planters of Cor-Ten steel, allowing visitors to have a close up view of each plant.

The North Garden serves as a place holder for future buildings, as called for in the campus master plan. It also provides one of the largest open space areas on the campus and the surrounding neighborhood. Several large live oaks, once confined to parking lot islands, were preserved and incorporated into the layout. Sidewalks, benches, and plantings – mostly native species create a comfortable campus landscape that is enjoyed by many on a regular basis.

Located within the North Garden area, just behind the brick wall on Bee Street, is the almost half acre MUSC Urban Farm.

The urban farm was developed with the following Goal Statement: “The MUSC Urban Farm will be a place that cultivates a healthier community by growing crops and social connections while educating and inspiring people with local, nutritious, and delicious food.” UES worked with MUSC staff and Elizabeth Beak of Crop Up ( to bring the farm into existence. MUSC conducts “Work and Learn” session where people can learn about eating healthier and growing their own food while taking home some of the food they have harvested. The farm is designed with raised beds, drip irrigation, and mulched pathways. Over 50 varieties of heirloom herbs, fruits and vegetables are raised year round in the farm area.

According to project manager Wade Gatlin of MUSC,  “this $80 million project has fundamentally raised the bar on design excellence in terms of architecture and landscape architecture for the MUSC campus.”  He also said that he “can happily recommend Urban Edge Studio for their ability to engage clients in thoughtful goal setting and consensus building, for their highly detailed solutions and their overall creative vision.” This project, which lasted over five years from beginning to end, presented many design challenges which the UES design team (Bill Eubanks, Russ Seamon and Haley Weeks) met with creativity, insight, and innovation.