Farewell to Minnie

By Gunn Meyerhoff Shay on April 2nd, 2018

In many ways we are all heroes. Certainly in architecture it takes courage to get things built!  But few who have worked with GMShay over the years have shown as much courage and grace as our co-worker and SuperMom Minnie Poole. Always one of the first to work each morning, after making sure three children were safely in school, even with a fourth on the way! Always calm and good natured. Deeply caring about her professional passion for our architectural interiors. Supporting her whole family during her husband Chris’ several tours in the Middle East as a US Marine and never complaining to us. Minnie is our hero.

Sadly for us, but happily for her family, Minnie is leaving us so her husband can pursue their dreams as an engineer for NASA. We salute her, and look forward to hearing about their next campaign.

Balancing a career and motherhood can’t be as easy as Minnie made it look. This photo is Minnie with her new son Ben.  Best of luck to you all!


The Mystery of Human Potential

By Gunn Meyerhoff Shay on March 12th, 2018

One morning last week after a site inspection I was riding to the office on my red Vespa, and I found myself looking at the big machines demolishing the abandoned Chatham County Jail. Its brutalist architecture was once on display next to the County Courthouse as a kind of warning to all citizens. Then I looked the other way and saw our new Cultural Arts Center under construction, a symbol of hope and aspiration.

In that moment I realized that a dream had been embedded into the landscape of Savannah. It is the dream we have that our children can be encouraged to grow up to be artists, musicians, creators and makers of wonders rather than to be locked inside their limitations.

Helping people to want to hold the instruments of art and performance, not guns. Learning to embrace careers bringing beauty into our community, using their creativity to build trust, instead of giving in to violence, our young people might find their own hopes and dreams.

I learned as a young father that parenting was not just about catching my kids being bad and punishing them, it was even more important to catch them being good and then praising them.

Sadly, we still need to have our newer, larger County Jail. But as my friend Joe Murray Rivers taught me, the point of having that jail is to try and make it empty. For what it costs us to incarcerate one person, we could help ten to find their artistry. Perhaps the next Annie Leibowitz or Miles Davis is just waiting among us to emerge!

This is the mystery of human potential. If you still don’t understand what the Savannah Cultural Arts Center is for, then try to imagine the day when our jails are empty.



GMShay + The Harriet Tubman Monument by Jessica Moeslein

By Gunn Meyerhoff Shay on March 2nd, 2018

For the past few weeks, an exciting project has been brewing for Gunn Meyerhoff Shay and we could not be more excited to share.

The Tabernacle Baptist Church in Beaufort, South Carolina, has launched a campaign to honor Harriet Tubman for her services during the Civil War.  Harriet was most certainly an amazing abolitionist and humanitarian.  The Tabernacle Baptist Church wants to honor her specific efforts during the Combahee Raid on June 2, 1863, where Harriet helped plan and lead a Union raid that freed over 700 slaves without casualty.  A monument is proposed to sit adjacent to the Tabernacle Baptist Church on Craven Street, and Gunn Meyerhoff Shay is excited to be on the team.

The project was introduced to Gunn Meyerhoff Shay through my interest in African art.  A few days after Christmas, my family and I decided to drive up to Beaufort to see what it was all about.  As we walked in and out of the quaint Beaufort stores within the main strip of Bay Street, we stumbled across Lybenson’s Gallery and Studio. As I roamed the gallery filled with beautiful African artifacts from all over the world, I began speaking with whom I know now to be Reverend Kenneth Hodges – the owner of the store.  As the conversation progressed, Reverend Hodges revealed the story behind the beautiful maquette that sits at the entrance of the gallery.

Two weeks ago, Pat and I ventured an hour north of Savannah to Beaufort, South Carolina to meet with Reverend Kenneth Hodges and experience the site for ourselves.  The site sits between two southern style homes – a part of the larger campus owned by the Tabernacle Baptist Church.  The Tabernacle Church congregation was formed by black members of Beaufort Baptist Church in 1861.  The property was not purchased until 1867, and the church was not dedicated until 1894.  The Tabernacle Church today is absolutely stunning.  It is wrapped with beautiful stain glass windows and its bright red roof is more vibrant than ever.  Craven Street is frequented by visitors from all over, and is along the route of walking tours, bus tours, and carriage tours.

Next to the church is the maquette and burial site of Robert Smalls, whom we learned was extremely influential in the abolishment of slavery within the South.  Born as a slave in 1839, Robert Smalls lived to serve as a Congressman of the United States.  What Pat and I were most impressed with was the story of how Robert Smalls commandeered a Confederate gunboat to Union forces.

It was a beautiful day as we walked around the church campus, accompanied by the soundtrack of horse drawn carriages click-clacking on the pavement and crepe myrtles blowing in the wind.

After walking on the site, Pat and I visited Lybenson’s gallery to see the maquette.  We discovered that Reverend Hodges is an avid photographer and artist himself, and were able to speak with him about some of the spectacular photos hanging in the gallery; some of which included shots of Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, Dizzy Gillespie, and Hank Gehring.

The maquette is displayed at the front of LyBenson’s gallery, which is located at 211 Charles Street, Beaufort, SC.  Ed Dwight, a sculptor and historian based out of Denver, CO, was the sculptor behind the beautiful maquette.  Interestingly enough, Ed was also the first African American to be trained as an astronaut.  Ed has sculpted 128 memorials of African American heroes including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Jim Crow, and Rosa Parks.

Gunn Meyerhoff Shay is honored to be a part of this monumental moment in African American history.

Follow this link to contribute to the Harriet Tubman Monument and learn more.

Experiencing Auldbrass Plantation

By Gunn Meyerhoff Shay on December 11th, 2017

Carefully integrated into the landscape along the Combahee River in Yemassee, South Carolina, is Frank Lloyd Wright’s version of a southern plantation. Of his many buildings, it is undoubtedly the largest and most complex of all his undertakings. The GMS team had the unique opportunity to visit the privately owned compound which is only open to the public biennially. Special thanks to Choate Construction for extending the invitation to us!

It truly was a spectacular sight. A hexagonal parti was cleverly incorporated throughout; from a rain chain above a hexagonal drain, modular furniture, to the angled timber walls and copper roofs that protruded enough to declare their presence without being overwhelming. Notable too was the Auldbrass Plantation’s logo that could be seen in the clerestory detailing.


As we left the serene grounds and turned for a final glance, the home and surrounding buildings seemingly disappeared into the natural landscape, becoming one with the earth.

Alchemy and Authenticity

By Gunn Meyerhoff Shay on October 4th, 2017

Visiting Venice is always a journey to a place full of art. This year we see her brimming with expression in La Biennalle and dozens of affiliated exhibitions for the best in contemporary art. It is everywhere!Read More »

Sustainability and Recovery

By Gunn Meyerhoff Shay on September 12th, 2017

When architects, environmentalists and planners talk about sustainability they usually mean the ability to enjoy the future without pillaging it for today.  When we designed our home in Savannah we planned it to be as energy and resource conservative as possible for this reason, so we could sustain our lifestyle as our earnings abated.Read More »

Regenerative Planning

By Gunn Meyerhoff Shay on August 8th, 2017

Jane Jacobs, the greatest planner of our lifetimes, believed that cities were organisms, not machines.  Like all organisms, elements of the whole are always dying while other elements are being created.  As long as there is more springing to life than dying, organisms and cities go on living.  Unlike biological entities cities don’t have to die, and few doRead More »

Farewell Saad

By Gunn Meyerhoff Shay on June 26th, 2017

Like a quiet angel, Saad Al-Jassar slips into our design studio every few years. Then, when he feels his work is done, he politely exits without drama or fanfare.

We always feel blessed to have him with us. Whether teaching our young associates how to navigate the challenges of getting dreams built, or incepting another wonderful addition toRead More »

Celebrating Net Zero

By Gunn Meyerhoff Shay on April 10th, 2017

Janice and I love our new home.  It is quiet, comfortable and relaxing.  With two full bedrooms upstairs, and a small bedroom for our grandchildren downstairs there is plenty of space for privacy.  Also, both Janice and I have wonderful offices with all the 21st Century trimmings.  A beautiful living room connects everything, and we have a formal dining room, kitchen and a great back porch overlooking a shady private garden anchored by a magnificent magnolia tree.Read More »