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McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture founding principal dies at 62

Krys Merryman //May 3, 2023//

McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture founding principal dies at 62

Krys Merryman //May 3, 2023//

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One of McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture firm’s founding principals died on Friday at the age of 62.

Joseph Martin Pazdan II was a cofounder of one of the state's most prestigious architecture firms and an active member of the community. (Photo/Provided)Greenville native Joseph Martin Pazdan II, founding principal of McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture, died at home, surrounded with family, after succumbing to a long battle with cancer, according to an obituary by Thomas McAfee Funeral Homes.

“It is with a heavy heart that we share news of Joe Pazdan’s passing. As one of our firm’s founders and leaders, Joe played a significant role in the Southeast's economic vitality for the past 30 years,” the firm shared on its LinkedIn page. “Joe’s passion for building communities through responsible development, sustainable land use, and inspired design is evident in the numerous projects he led and the clients he nurtured. We're better for having known him and will continue the culture, legacy and commitment to others that he demonstrated.”

Pazdan and his college friend Brad Smith, also founding principal of McMillan Pazdan Smith, started the architectural design firm Pazdan Smith Group in 1993. As a practicing architect for 30 years, Pazdan played a significant role in Greenville’s economic vitality as witnessed by a substantial portfolio of projects in the downtown business corridor. With a passion for sustainable land use and design, his projects span retail, mixed-use, commercial office and industrial buildings. The firm today, McMillan Pazdan Smith Architects, employs more than 330 professionals in eight offices in the Carolinas and Georgia, according to the obituary.

“Joe Pazdan’s approach to architecture and design always began with the relationships with people that he fostered and the community, building results that could be realized,” said Smith. “Whether designing a new development for Greenville’s West End or raising funds for one of his many beloved charities, Joe did it all with the same urgency and conviction — to create meaningful and lasting impact.”

Pazdan was a community leader and advocate recognized for his hands-on approach and dedicated level of service. He was a member of the Urban Land Institute and was actively engaged in economic development and private investment initiatives across the Southeast. He oversaw the planning and design of retail, hospitality, mixed-use, office, and industrial projects for the firm’s Corporate and Community Studios. He was also on the Urban Land Institute’s National Sustainable Development Council while also serving as vice chair for South Carolina’s District Council.

After receiving Bachelor of Science degrees in Design and Building Science and Management from Clemson University, Pazdan stayed involved with the university’s architecture program throughout his career. He also served on Clemson’s Board of Visitors and was involved with the Master of Real Estate program, the obituary said.

The Greenville community was a passion of Pazdan’s and he was active on several civic boards and organizations throughout the city, such as the Metro YMCA, United Way, March of Dimes, Greenville Technical College and Greenville Chamber of Commerce.

“He handled his nearly two-year battle with an unbeatable cancer with courage and grace and used his precious time to take long walks with his wife Ginny, spend time with his children and grandchildren, mentor the next generation of architects, write many notes to family and friends, travel and take in every new culinary spot in the area,” according to the obituary. “Everyone loved hearing about his adventures including biking, hiking, fishing, skiing and many more. With his busy life of family, career and community, Joe taught us how to live … with his cancer journey, he taught us how to die.”

In addition to his wife of 36 years, Ginny Piper Pazdan, his legacy is continued by three children, three grandchildren, sisters, a brother, and nieces and nephews.