Howard F. Sims, FAIA
A pioneer at birth, and growing up without many of the options available to minority students today, Howard Sims knew from an early age that he wanted to be an architect. As the landscape in Detroit at the time didn’t provide internship opportunities to blacks in architecture, he joined the Navy as a draftsman to get experience in the field. Stationed in Morocco during the Korean War, he helped to design naval facilities. Following his discharge, Howard received his Bachelor of Science in Architecture in 1963, and a Master of Architecture degree in 1966, both from the esteemed A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan. In 1964, he started Howard Sims and Associates to further his creative vision as an entrepreneur.
One of his strongest passions was to provide both effective and exceptional design to all, and more importantly, to not exclude those less fortunate. Award winning McMichael Middle School in Detroit and the Redford Branch Library are just two examples among a diverse and impressive portfolio.
Howard’s dedication to the community was further demonstrated by his strong philanthropic and mentorship activities. He travelled globally as a Board member of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and provided extensive support to the Boy Scouts of America, United Way, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and many other organizations. He and his wife Judith established scholarships at multiple universities, including the University of Michigan School of Architecture and Wayne State University.
Howard’s firm was one of the first minority architecture firms in Michigan, and his talents subsequently allowed him to gain experience and recognition outside of architecture as well, as a writer of Michigan’s first building codes, and as a board member of institutions such as the Federal Reserve, and Detroit’s Comerica Bank and DTE Energy.
The Charles Wright Museum, a prominent Detroit landmark, remains one of Howard’s most iconic works. Visitors have the unique opportunity to enjoy the beautiful cultural emblems and experience, and marvel at the breathtaking design and amazing echoes of the main rotunda.
Driving through Detroit and its surroundings you’ll see many of his other memorable works, including the Cobo Convention Center, Millender Center, University of Michigan School of Social Work and Golightly Vocational Center, not to mention major work at Detroit’s Metropolitan Airport and Martin Luther King Jr. High School. Most importantly, amidst all of this, he always found the time and energy to be an avid golfer, and an amazing and dedicated husband and father.
Geoffrey Harrison, President, Lead Design Principal
Since joining SDG in 1977, Geoffrey has been responsible for the design of a wide range of projects, including several Detroit Public Schools facilities, higher education buildings and master plans for Michigan based college and university campuses, prominent residential, mixed-use and corporate projects, and civic buildings, including the Andrew C. Baird facility in Detroit.
Geoffrey performed design and project management for the $174 M expansion of TCF Convention and Exhibition Center in 1989, as well as the 2010-2015 $300 M capital improvements and renovations. Geoffrey has extensive experience completing sensitive Federal Inspection Service facilities in Customs and Border Patrol locations in airports across the U.S., and his documentation of program management procedures during the development of the new Detroit Wayne County Port Authority Dock and Terminal is currently being used by the Federal Highway Administration as a model document. Geoffrey’s focus is on client satisfaction, project management, and architectural design.
Wesley Sims, Chief Financial and Operating Officer
Wesley has been majority Owner of SDG Associates as well as Chief Financial Officer since 2010. While not an architect, he brings a significant amount of relevant experience which allows him to be successful in his roles.
Prior to joining SDG on staff, Wesley was the Director of Enterprise Risk Management and Capital Modeling for a top 25 P&C insurance carrier and retail bank. His experience also includes management of a $50 million annual capital budgeting process, business analysis and improvement initiatives, and responsibility for corporate departments.
Wesley also has a significant amount of experience in construction and related industries.
William (Bill) Spinks, RA, Principal
Bill has more than 40 years of experience across a broad spectrum of project types, including Educational and Religious Facilities, Transportation and Light Industrial, Commercial, Resort Planning, Urban Planning and Urban Renewal.
Highly proficient in specifications writing and code analysis, Bill’s skillsets and experience make him a tremendous asset to the firm and any project.
Thaddeus (Ted) Zakrzewski, RA, Lead Technical Principal
Ted began in the industry as a draftsperson reading specifications and preparing shop drawings for a contractor. He has worked in both small and large offices in the Metropolitan Detroit area, and has extensive experience in design, technical quality and training.
John Abela, Director of Design
As SDG’s Director of Design, John is involved in all aspects of a project from inception through completion. John’s experience ranges from the design of a zero-carbon footprint city in the UAE, multi-floor mixed use structures, standard and high end interior renovations to custom furnishings. He prides himself on bringing all aspects of a project in on time and on budget while holding true to the design vision by focusing on the integration of culture, technology, and ecology to connect people with the built environment.
SDG Associates designs spaces where culture, travel, collaboration, education and innovation can flourish. As such, John believes that Architecture and Design is an integrative endeavor between the owner, stakeholders, and consultants.
Paul Carr, Architectural Lead
Paul’s design work ranges from residential projects to large commercial and educational facilities. He has completed infrastructure and renovation projects and specializes in coordination and connection of existing buildings to new construction.
Paul has guided projects from programming and site design to punch list and final closeout, while organizing and managing special consultants, and all aspects of engineering: civil, structural and mechanical, electrical and plumbing.
Get your one of a kind Charles H Wright Museum of African American History Lego set, available at the museum gift shop.