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Dawson Architects announce merger

Subheadline: 
Savannah firm to combine forces with LS3P, sustain focus on restoration, renovation

  • Neil Dawson of Dawson Architects at work in his office overlooking Franklin Square. The firm has announced a merger with Charleston-based LS3P Associates. Dawson will become LS3P principal and leader of the Savannah office. (Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News file photo)

Savannah’s Dawson Architects and Charleston-based architecture firm, LS3P Associates Ltd., have announced a merger, effective Friday.

“We’re really excited and think this will be a good fit for us,” said Neil Dawson, founder of Dawson Architects, who previously worked for LS3P after graduating college and had kept in touch with the firm since moving to Savannah in the early 1990s. “They were the best firm to work for. They had great mentorship and an excellent team. They’re really sort of an anomaly among large architecture firms.”

The merger will mark the eighth office for LS3P. Other locations are in Columbia, Greenville and Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Charlotte, Raleigh and Wilmington, N.C., and will integrate more than 300 architects, interior designers and staff.

“LS3P has always had a coastal heritage and a culture that is rooted in the Southeast. Dawson Architects has a very compatible culture, with diverse experience and a strong focus on design excellence, client service and community involvement,” said Thompson E. Penney, LS3P’s chairman, president and CEO.

“This merger gives us a stronger presence in Savannah and coastal Georgia and allows us to combine strengths with a well-respected citizen, architect, and friend.”

During the one-year transitional period the Savannah office will take the name LS3P Dawson, and Dawson will become LS3P Principal and leader of the Savannah office.

“The firm is bigger than just me,” Dawson said of the name change. “We’ve got a whole staff of excellent people, so to focus on just one doesn’t show our expertise.”

Founded in 1963, LS3P has worked on projects for Clemson University, Fort Benning and Charlotte/Douglas International Airport as well as retail, office and residential work.

LS3P’s work on aviation, federal, health care and K-12 education projects is expected to bring new markets for Dawson and his employees, and the Savannah office will serve as the renovation base for the firm. Restoration and renovation have been a specialty for Dawson and his firm, and he said he’s looking forward to the new projects the merger will bring.

“If there’s a great restoration project in Raleigh, we’ll be able to take our expertise there, and if there is a health care project here, it’ll allow them to bring their knowledge,” Dawson said.

Dawson founded the firm in 2008 as a spin-off of Dawson and Whissmach Architects, which he helped to start in 1999. The firm has worked on numerous projects for the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah and Atlanta as well as the Cotton Sail Hotel, Collins Quarter and the Public Kitchen and Bar.

They’ve received numerous accolades for from The Georgia Trust and Historic Savannah Foundation for that work.

“It’s a good fit. They’re still small enough to be focused on relationships with clients, but they’re big enough to bring their expertise and knowledge to the firm,” he said.

“We think it’s a good fit for our clients.” 

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