McMillan Pazdan Smith Promotes Cary Perkins to Director of Design Engagement

Cary Perkins

Cary Perkins, Director of Design Engagement, MPS (photo by Derrick Simpson Photography).

Greenville 9/17/2021 — For Southeast-based architecture, planning, and design firm McMillan Pazdan Smith, Ideas Taking Shape is not just a company tagline—it’s a description of the creative work that goes into the firm’s dedicated design process.
In order to continue to elevate design thinking firm-wide and identify further opportunities for innovation, MPS created the role of Director of Design Engagement and named Principal Cary Perkins to the position. The role developed from a series of internal listening sessions that gathered feedback from office directors and studio leaders about design process, company culture, and opportunities for growth.

Perkins has been with McMillan Pazdan Smith for over 17 years. She began as an intern and remained at the firm as a project manager in the community studio after earning her Master of Architecture from Clemson in 2004. She has worked on a variety of educational, civic, nonprofit, and cultural spaces, including a number of the firm’s award-winning projects.

In establishing this position as part of the senior management team, MPS underscores the priority placed on design and design culture to both the legacy and future of the firm. In this new role, Perkins will be an evangelist for design culture and its strategic development, working to support the creative process in all offices and studios by promoting diversity of thought, cross-pollination between creative teams, and regular critique as a cultural objective. She will also be called on to develop design talent firm-wide toward an ever-deepening culture of innovation. Perkins' work will often extend to the communities McMillan Pazdan Smith serves through forums that encourage community engagement, external feedback, and idea-sharing. In addition, Perkins will partner with the Director of Project Delivery on efficiencies, standards and tools related to ideation and production. This includes optimizing the client onboarding process and developing a consistent client feedback loop. This position reports to the CEO.

“We’re proud to be a highly collaborative firm made up of extremely talented people, recognizing that the best ideas can come from any direction,” Perkins said.“ My job will be to focus energy and effort into our creative culture, supporting teams and advocating for a high level of design thinking and innovation offered to our clients and communities.”

CEO Chad Cousins said, “Cary has worked with every MPS studio and office throughout her accomplished career. She is a skilled designer and an excellent facilitator. We are excited she is taking on the focused leadership support for our design culture and promoting effective and continuous collaboration and value creating innovation. We look forward to the accelerated and enhanced cross-pollination of design thinking and ideation across our studios by having her in this new role.”

About McMillan Pazdan Smith
McMillan Pazdan Smith is a regional, studio-based architecture, planning, and interior design firm. Practicing since 1955, the firm currently has offices throughout the Southeast in Spartanburg, Greenville, Charleston, Charlotte, Asheville, and Atlanta. MPS was recognized by Engineering News-Record (ENR) as the “Southeast Design Firm of the Year” in 2019.


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