Process


“We form teams of experts for each project and work closely with our clients”.

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Collaborative design process

We strive to fulfill the dreams and visions of our clients, who are also collaborators.

With 25+ years of experience dedicated to providing custom design services, our ability to listen to your ideas and create spaces unique to you has brought us much success and the respect of our peers.

We are able to quickly sense the key elements that are unique to each client. We recognize early in the architectural design process how important it is to have a team approach, an integrated design.

 

 

Attention to details, helping establish the budget, and planning each phase of the design process helps us achieve your trust and satisfaction.

We involve interiors from the very first stages of architectural planning and assist with all interior selections, fixtures, appliances, cabinetry, colors and molding designs. As analytical problem solvers, we help you examine your options and manage the process. We are dedicated to seeing the project through to a timely completion, on budget.

We approach the design process in three distinct parts.

  • FIRST, Design Phase: Information gathering site analyzes, review board analysis, preliminary sketches & finalized Preliminary Design; review board approval assured
  • SECOND, Production of the Construction Drawings & Specifications. These are the documents that the builder will bid from and the documents that will be reviewed for permits.
  • THIRD, Assistance during Construction — from helping select the builder through final inspection and approval of work completed.

We are passionate about our work and love the satisfaction that comes with a completed home that beautifully reflects the dreams of each client.

“We merge natural and high tech methods to create comfortable and environmentally responsible buildings”.

sustainable low-country design

sustainable low-country design

Green Architecture is a term used widely, by both practitioners and academicians, which defines Architecture as a product of and in harmony with the environment.

Green Architecture is synonymous with ‘Sustainable Development,’ a term defined in 1987 by the World Commission on the Environment as, “meeting the needs of today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

 

 

Sustainable Design is in part the systematic consideration of a project’s life cycle impact on environmental and energy resources — its long term cost and value.

Cowart Group is committed to being a responsible steward of our natural resources and, as a leader in Architecture, intends to provide leadership in developing an ethic of sustainability in all of our practices.

Green Architecture is not only about protecting the environment; it is about protecting the health, well-being and quality of life of the building’s occupants. Natural ventilation and the use of non-toxic paints, carpets and adhesives help to make a green building a healthy building.

South Carolina passive and high-tech methods

South Carolina passive and high-tech methods

By engaging in Sustainable Design, we create high performance, energy efficient buildings that are in harmony with their context. We optimize energy efficiency and exploit opportunities for passive solar and natural lighting and ventilation.

We conserve natural resources through reducing waste, using regional resources, and using renewable, salvaged and recycled materials. We optimize indoor air quality and incorporate safeguards to reduce wastewater and protect water quality.

Demonstrating and sharing the understanding of these practices and principles is an important component in all of our projects.

We support the new green standards such as the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program and the Earth Craft House. These programs are transforming the building industry toward a sustainable future. With a staff of LEED Accredited Professionals, Cowart Group is committed to the ethics of this transformation through our integrated design approach.

Traditional Design approaches have been largely linear. The Architect/Planner progresses from Conceptual Design through Design Development and Construction Documents to Contract Administration while pulling technical consultants in along the way. Integrated Design employs a multi-disciplinary approach where all the project professionals and stakeholders are brought in to the design process early on, to form a collaborative team. This process recognizes that early design decisions made collaboratively will have a major, positive impact on achieving cost effective, well considered, and sustainable design goals.

With the understanding and desire to create “visual harmony with the environment,” Gerry Cowart, AIA , has been honored by receiving the AIA Georgia Design Award for Sustainable Residential Architecture for 1996 for the Hendershot Residence on Spring Island, SC, and received the same award in 1997 for the Baron Residence on Brays Island, SC.

This single family home is a product of its site. The magnificent home is sited on a secluded three-acre site overlooking a hidden salt pond and the marshes of ChechesseeRiver. The site’s sensitive ecology with wetlands on three sides and the owner’s strong desire to be connected with the environment were primary design determinants.

The semi-tropical climate of Spring Island also dictated primary architectural consideration. Certainly, the dramatic panoramic views heavily influenced the design. Sustainable Architecture seeks to marry the owner to the site. It hopes to connect strongly to the ecology and convey the emotion and symbolism of the South while exercising sound contemporary construction, planning and environmental principles.

“We rigorously analyze each site and develop strategies that take advantage of natural features”.

Color Site Analysis

 

 

The wonderful views and climatic considerations led Mr. Cowart to an “exploded one room deep” design approach. This allowed every room in the house to have dramatic multidirectional views, natural lighting and cooling through cross ventilation in this hot, humid but breezy climate

 

 

Furthermore, porches form a functional and emotional link between the house and nature, effectively blurring the line between natural and built environment, allowing the two to be seen as one, coastal climate dictated lightweight construction. A raised foundation, ventilation, shading of large overhangs, covered porches gathering prevailing breezes, and tall ceilings with many tall operable windows, all lend themselves to Sustainable Architecture. This decentralized massing of the structure enhances the breeze catching and heat dissipation resulting in passive cooling.

Sustainable Architecture requires that the selection of materials and colors also reflect a sensitivity to place. Pine and cypress in combination with tabby speak to historically proven, locally available and ecologically renewable resources. This is carried through into the interior with the use of much recycled pine, Savannah Gray Brick, and antique ship ballast stone.

“The historical context of this site suggests a connection with the plantation era of South Carolina. The owner and architect felt strongly that the house should be of its place. This desire encompassed both natural contexts, as well as social-historical context.”

Site design

Checklist for Environmentally Sustainable Design and Construction From the AIA Environmental Committee

I. DESIGN

Smaller is better.

Optimize use of interior space through careful design so that the overall building size and resource use in constructing and operating it are kept at a minimum.

Design an energy-efficient building.

Use high levels of insulation, high-performance windows, and tight construction. In Southern climates, choose glazing with low solar heat gain.

Design buildings to use renewable energy.

Passive solar heating, day lighting, and natural cooling can be incorporated cost-effectively into most buildings. Also consider solar water heating and photo-voltaic — or design buildings for future panel installation. If wood heating is an option, specify a low-emission wood stove or pellet stove.

Optimize material use.

Minimize waste by designing for standard sizes. Avoid waste from structural over-design (use optimum value-engineering/advanced framing).

Design water-efficient, low-maintenance landscaping.

Conventional lawns have high impact because of water use, pesticide use, and pollution generated from mowing. Landscape with drought-resistant native plants and perennial groundcovers.

Make it easy for occupants to recycle waste.

Make provisions for storage and processing of recyclables: recycling bins near the kitchen, under sink, door mounted bucket with lid for compostable food waste, etc.

Look into the feasibility of gray water and rooftop water catchment systems.

Water that has been used for bathing, dish washing, or clothes washing can be recycled for flushing toilets or irrigation. If current codes prevent gray water recycling, consider designing the plumbing for easy future adaptation. Rooftop water catchment for outdoor watering should be considered in many regions.

Design for future reuse.

Make the structure adaptable to other uses, and choose materials and components that can be reused or recycled.

Avoid potential health hazards: radon, EMF, pesticides.

Follow recommended practices to minimize radon entry into the building and provide for future mitigation if necessary. Plan electrical wiring and placement of electrical equipment to minimize electromagnetic field exposure. Design insect-resistant detailing that will require minimal use of pesticides.

II. SITING

Renovate older buildings.

Conscientiously renovating existing buildings is the most sustainable construction.

Evaluate site resources.

Early in the siting process carry out a careful site evaluation: solar access, soils, vegetation, important natural areas, etc.

Locate buildings to minimize environmental impact.

Cluster buildings or build attached units to preserve open space and wildlife habitats, avoid especially sensitive areas including wetlands, and keep roads and service lines short. Leave most pristine areas untouched, and look for areas that have been previously damaged to build on.

Pay attention to solar orientation.

Reduce energy use by orienting buildings to make optimal use of passive solar heating, day lighting, and natural cooling.

Situate buildings to benefit from existing vegetation.

Trees on the east and west sides of a building can dramatically reduce cooling loads. Hedge rows and shrubbery can block cold winter winds or help channel cool summer breezes into the building.

Minimize transportation requirements.

Locate buildings to provide access to public transportation, bicycle paths, and walking access to basic services. Commuting can also be reduced by working at home. Consider home office needs with layout and wiring.

III. MATERIALS

Avoid ozone-depleting chemicals in mechanical equipment and insulation.

CFCs have largely been phased out, but their primary replacements, -HFCs- also damage the ozone layer and should be avoided where possible. Reclaim CFCs when servicing or disposing of equipment (required by law) and, if possible, take CFC-based foam insulation to a recycler who can capture CFCs.

Use durable products and materials.

Because manufacturing is very energy-intensive, a product that lasts longer or requires less maintenance usually saves energy. Durable products also contribute less to our solid waste problems.

Choose building materials with low embodied energy.

One estimate of the relative energy intensity of various materials (by weight) is as follows: Lumber = 1 Brick = 2 Cement =2 Glass = 3 Fiberglass = 7 Steel = 8 Plastic = 30 Aluminum = 30.

Buy locally produced building materials.

Transportation is costly in both energy use and pollution generation. Look for locally produced materials (local softwoods or hardwoods, for example) to replace products imported to your area.

Use building products made from recycled materials.

Building products made from recycled materials reduce solid waste problems, cut energy consumption in manufacturing, and save on natural resource use. A few examples of materials with recycled content are cellulose insulation, Homosote, Thermo-ply, and recycled plastic lumber.

Use salvaged building materials when possible.

Reduce landfill pressure and save natural resources by using salvaged materials: lumber, millwork, certain plumbing fixtures, and hardware, for example. Make sure these materials are safe (test for lead paint and asbestos), and don’t sacrifice energy efficiency or water efficiency by reusing old windows or toilets.

Minimize use of old-growth timber.

Avoid lumber products produced from old-growth timber when acceptable alternatives exist. You may not need clear narrow-grained cedar or redwood siding, for example, when using an opaque stain or paint – as long as proper detailing is used to avoid rot. Laminated wood timbers can be substituted for old-growth Douglas fir. Don’t buy tropical hardwoods unless the seller can document that the wood comes from well-managed forests.

Avoid materials that will give off gas pollutants.

Solvent-based finishes, adhesives, carpeting, particleboard, and many other building products release formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. These chemicals can affect workers’ and occupants’ health as well as contribute to smog and ground-level ozone pollution outside.

Minimize use of pressure-treated lumber.

Use detailing that will prevent soil contact and rot. Where possible, use alternatives such as recycled plastic lumber. Take measures to protect workers when cutting and handling pressure treated wood, and never burn scraps.

Minimize packaging waste.

Avoid excessive packaging, such as plastic-wrapped plumbing fixtures or fasteners that are not available in bulk. Tell your supplier why you are avoiding over-packaged products. Keep in mind, however, that some products must be carefully packaged to prevent damage – and resulting waste.

IV. EQUIPMENT

Install high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment.

Well-designed high-efficiency furnaces, boilers, and air conditioners (and distribution systems) not only save the building occupants money, but also produce less pollution during operation. Install equipment with minimal risk of combustion gas spillage, such as sealed-combustion appliances.

Install high-efficiency lights and appliances.

Fluorescent lighting has improved dramatically in recent years and is now suitable for homes. High efficiency appliances offer both economic and environmental advantages over their conventional counterparts.

Install water-efficient equipment.

Water-conserving toilets, showerheads, and faucet aerators not only reduce water use, they also reduce demand on septic systems or sewage treatment plants. Reducing hot water use also saves energy.

Install mechanical ventilation equipment.

Mechanical ventilation is usually required to ensure safe, healthy indoor air. Heat recovery ventilators are preferred in cold climates because of energy savings, but simpler, less expensive exhaust-only systems are also adequate.

V. JOBSITE

Protect trees and topsoil during site work.

Protect trees from damage during construction by fencing off the “drip line” around them and avoiding major changes to surface grade.

Avoid use of pesticides and other chemicals that may leach into the groundwater.

Look into less toxic termite treatments, and keep exposed frost walls free from obstructions to discourage insects. When backfilling a foundation or grading around a house, do not bury any construction debris.

Minimize job-site waste.

Centralize cutting operations to reduce waste and simplify sorting. Set up clearly marked bins or trash cans for different types of usable waste (wood scraps for kindling, sawdust for compost, etc.). Find out where different materials can be taken for recycling, and educate your crew about recycling procedures.

Make your business operations more environmentally responsible.

Make your office as energy efficient as possible, purchase energy-efficient vehicles, arrange carpools to job sites, and schedule site visits and errands to minimize unnecessary driving. In your office, purchase recycled office paper and supplies, recycle office paper, use coffee mugs instead of disposable cups. On the job, recycle beverage containers.

“We know the area we work intimately”.

Cowart Group Architect

Cowart Group Architect

Our work is regional; our area of influence extends from Virginia Tidewater to the Florida and Gulf Coast, from the Mountains of Tennessee, through the southern Appalachians. Cowart Group is committed to being a responsible steward of our natural resources and, as a leader in Architecture, intends to provide leadership in developing an ethic of sustainability in all of our practices. Below is a listing of where we work.

PALMETTO- BLUFF

Building in Palmetto-Bluff? If so, you understand the vision of this community and appreciate the value of the natural beauty and richness of it’s sea island landscape. Palmetto-Bluff sets out to preserve and protect one of America’s treasured landscapes while creating a settlement for those who will cherish this unique environment. The architects at the Cowart Group embrace this conservation of scarce resources through Sustainable Sensitive Architecture.

Every Palmetto-Bluff home we design reflects the goals and desires unique to each of our clients without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. We enjoy working with people, and pride ourselves in providing traditional integrity while using only the finest homebuilders. We have discovered that individualized architecture designs produce lasting value, pleasure to our clients, and pride for our design team.

BRAYS ISLAND

This 5,500 acre plantation, with only 325 home sites, has set aside 3,500 acres as a nature and hunting preserve. BraysIsland protects the surrounding environment, while maintaining the sporting lifestyle of a traditional Lowcountry plantation.

With 20 years low country experience, the Cowart Group Architects embrace the conservation of scarce resources and respect for the environment. Every BraysIsland home we design reflects the goals and desires unique to each of our clients. Our designs are based upon a complex philosophy that has emerged from a love and respect for history, nature, science and the art of architecture. We have discovered that individualized designs produce lasting value, pleasure to our clients, and pride for our design team

FORD PLANTATION

This Plantation was named by Town & Country magazine as one of the top seven safe havens in the country. The Ford Plantation is a private community offers an outstanding quality of life and exceptional amenities. There will never be another place-anywhere-where you can own a home and property in a private coastal sporting community equal to The Ford Plantation. The families who are attracted to The Ford Plantation have a very special sense of history. It was originally a King’s grant in 1734, then a southern antebellum rice plantation, next the winter retreat of Henry Ford and his wife Clara. Today, The Ford Plantation is a private equity membership sporting community under a canopy of Ancient live oak trees, with unlimited views, wildlife and sweet hospitality..

All Ford Plantation home we design reflects the goals and desires unique to each of our clients. Our designs are based upon a complex philosophy that has emerged from a love and respect for history, nature, science and the art of architecture. We have discovered that individualized designs produce lasting value, pleasure to our clients, and pride for our design team.

SPRING ISLAND

The ratio of land to homes (one home to seven acres) makes it among the lowest density planned communities on the Eastern Seaboard. Over 1,200 acres are dedicated to nature preserves and open space. The region’s long growing seasons and mild winters create ideal growing conditions for the rare oak and hickory forests that cover much of the landscape. The SpringIsland philosophy is that the more it’s members understand about nature, the more they are motivated to help conserve and protect the animals and the habitat.

Each SpringIsland home we design reflects the goals and desires unique to each of our clients. Our designs are based upon a complex philosophy that has emerged from a love and respect for history, nature, science and the art of architecture. We have discovered that individualized designs produce lasting value, pleasure to our clients, and pride for our design team.

OLDFIELD

This is a private club community built along a stunning Greg Norman golf course, nature trails, saltwater marsh, and the gentle meanderings of the OkatieRiver. Designed to fit perfectly within this gently rolling landscape, homes and cottages will be built in the traditional Lowcountry style that has for so long marked the area.

Though it is less than 30 minutes from Savannah, Hilton Head Island and historic Beaufort, SC, Oldfield feels a world apart. Here, river, tidal marsh, ancient trees, and wildlife provide the natural beauty while the River Club, the Norman Course, the Outfitter’s Center, Sports Club and the equestrian facilities provide the activities and amenities that make this unique land a very special private club. And a very special place to live.

We have grown out of the Historic Preservation Movement in Savannah and the South Carolina Low Country. Our award-winning firm consists of a “team” of LEED certified professionals committed to meeting our clients’ needs.

Every Oldfield home we design reflects the goals and desires unique to each of our clients. We enjoy working with people, and pride ourselves in providing traditional integrity. We have discovered that individualized designs produce lasting value, pleasure to our clients, and pride for our design team.

HAIG POINT

This is an un-crowded, environmentally sensitive, architecturally distinguished single-family community. The overwhelming majority of owners have acquired individual homesites for the construction of their custom designed homes. Custom home lots range from one-half to over two acres in size.

Every Haig Point home we design reflects the goals and desires unique to each of our clients. Our designs are based upon a complex philosophy that has emerged from a love and respect for history, nature, science and the art of architecture. We have discovered that individualized designs produce lasting value, pleasure to our clients, and pride for our design team.

 

Cowart Group Architect

Palmetto Bluff

“Proper Land Planning is an essential first step to Beautiful Architecture”.

Land Planning

Land Planning

Perhaps our best example of land planning is the Nontraditional Neighborhood Planning design that Gerry Cowart created for Newpoint, near Beaufort, S.C. The land planning was selected as the 1995 AIA Georgia Award for Excellence in Architecture, as well as being published in Southern Living, Builder Magazine and Southern Accents. This plan incorporates both sound street design, with squares, boulevards, common playgrounds called “rambles,” gazebos as well as “The Green,” which is a leisurely stroll along the developments riverbanks.

  • Keeping the lots narrow, introducing porches and low fences, rear alleys with garages, and sidewalks where children can ride their bicycles, or parents can walk, are all part of creating an environment that encourages neighbors to socialize.
  • You can see from the color photograph that scale and proportion and simplicity of design rule — yet attention is given to refinement – creating a Neotraditional neighborhood.

Satilla Land Planning

Satilla Land Planning

 

Planning

  • Guidelines for Dolphin Island 2004
  • Guidelines and Community Architecture for Retreat Plantation 2004
  • Heyward Pointe Community Design Guidelines, Okatie, South Carolina 2001
  • Site Master Planning – GordonVillage Low Income Housing, Savannah, GA 2000
  • Site Master Planning – Mt.HermanBaptistChurch, Savannah, GA 2000
  • Site Master Planning – BethelAMEChurch, Rincon, GA 2000
  • Guest Speaker, Neotraditional Planning Conference, Columbus, Georgia 1999
  • Master Planning – Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA 1994-99
  • Master Planning & Architectural Consultant- Bay Point, Beaufort, North Carolina 1998-Present
  • Urban Analysis & Architectural Infill- Crawford Ward, Savannah, Georgia 1998
  • Master Plan & Architecture- Jackson Park- Savannah, Georgia 1998
  • Consultant, I’On Guidelines, Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina 1997-1998
  • Guest Speaker Sustainable Design Conference, City of Savannah, Georgia 1997
  • Architecture & Guidelines, Rivertowne, Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina 1995
  • Master Plan & Guidelines, Emerald Pointe, Savannah, Georgia 1995
  • Master Plan, Means Bluff, Brays Island, South Carolina 1995
  • Master Plan, Architecture & Guidelines, Tabby Run, The Landings, Savannah, Georgia 1992
  • Co-chair MLK Boulevard Design Charrette- Savannah, Georgia 1992
  • Master Plan & Guidelines, Newpoint, Beaufort, South Carolina 1991
  • Master Plan, Architecture & Guidelines, Pine Shadow, The Landings, Savannah, Georgia 1990
  • Master Plan & Architecture, Bay Club, Hilton Head, South Carolina 1990
  • Guidelines, Southbridge, Savannah, Georgia 1988

“No Beautiful Home exists with out early collaboration between Architect and Interior Designer”.

Cowart Group Architects Southern Interiors

Cowart Group Architects

With 25 years of experience dedicated to providing custom design services, our ability to listen to your ideas and create spaces unique to you has brought us much success.

We sense the key elements that are unique to each client. We recognize early in the architectural design process how significantly the interior of the home affects the overall design.

Attention to details, helping establish the budget, and planning each phase of the design helps us achieve a level of trust that leads to satisfaction. We work hard to define individual design needs and mesh them with the unique qualities of your property.

We involve interiors from the very first stages of architectural planning and assist with all interior selections, fixtures, appliances, cabinetry, colors and molding designs. As analytical problem solvers, we help you examine your options and manage the process. We are dedicated to seeing the project through to a timely completion, on budget.

Southern Architecture

Cowart Group Architects

We visualize the process of designing a home in three distinct parts.

  • FIRST, Design Phase: Information gathering, review board analysis, preliminary sketches & finalized Preliminary Design; review board approval assured
  • SECOND, Production of the Construction Drawings & Specifications. These are the documents that the builder will bid from and the documents that will be reviewed for permits.
  • THIRD, Assistance during Construction — from helping select the builder through final inspection and approval of work completed.

It is our goal to be sensitive to our environment. We pride ourselves on our environmental ethics and practices. “Sustainable Design” is concerned with the ecological, economic, ethical and social aspects of design and its long-term impacts on our lives. We are certified as Leaders in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED Accredited Professionals).

We are passionate about our work and love the satisfaction that comes with a completed home that beautifully reflects the dreams of each client.

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