Contractor Spotlight: SDG Associates – Geoffrey Harrison, Principal


Formerly known as Sims-Varner & Associates, SDG Associates (SDG) is a comprehensive and diverse architectural, planning and program management firm with 50 years of leadership and design experience. Headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, the firm has designed some of the most recognizable structures in the city. It provides designs for a variety of markets such as civic, cultural, education (K-12 and higher education), infrastructure and transportation, corporate facilities and parking structures. Additionally, SDG has a broad portfolio of aviation project work that spans several states and includes Detroit Metro Airport.

SDG’s operations are managed by two principals, supported by a team of architects, architectural designers and an urban planner. Principal Geoffrey Harrison supervises the majority of the work at SDG.

What are some of your notable projects?

We’re best known for our design of the Charles Wright Museum. Another notable project that is past and present for us is Cobo Center. We began working with them in 1989 and now we’re on the frontline with the vision for its current renovations.

Tell me more about your current involvement on Cobo.

We’re in the midst of several Cobo projects including the renovations of the middle level and the east side of the building. The east side of the building renovations involve the interiors, meeting rooms and concourse. The most spectacular feature that I’m looking forward to is a major entrance canopy (where the freeway goes under the building). This space will include a video wall that will be about 200 feet by 50 feet. In addition, we have plans for expanding the entry atrium on the north and adding several video walls there as well. The appearance of Cobo by the end of 2014 is going to be incredible.

Any other exciting projects you are working on in Detroit?

We are continuing services to Greektown Casino which is always exciting. We’re also kicking off an improvement project for the Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, a beautiful English gothic church. We will be working on some renovations for the church as well as additions to the north and south. We are looking forward to improving upon such a wonderful building. We also have some things in the works with the Detroit Housing Commission.

Why did you select Detroit as your headquarters?

Our founder Howard F. Sims, a Detroit native, founded the company in 1964, so this year is our fiftieth anniversary. Since the seventies we’ve been based in downtown Detroit. He was a Detroit native, and it was always his intent to provide architectural services to Detroit.

There are so many wonderful projects we’ve had the pleasure to work on and so many more to come. Detroit was an exciting place to be in the seventies and it is an even more exciting time now.

How do you want your company to impact Detroit in the long term?

Detroit is right on the edge of really taking off. It’s such a great place to be. I grew up in England in Liverpool in the sixties and at that time that was the place to be.  In 2014 I truly feel that Detroit is the place to be.

Over the long term we are excited to continue creating the vision for wonderful places throughout the city for residents to enjoy.

What is the SDG Design culture all about?

We pride ourselves in quality innovative design, practical and cost-efficient construction, in addition to our exceptional and timely delivery of our services. Our team is fully dedicated and committed to ensuring that our projects are all of exceptional quality and our clients are completely satisfied.

Tiffini D. Smith

Communications Director

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