Markham Smith is a founding principal of Smith Dalia Architects. For thirty-five years Markham’s work in the field of design and development has focused on building more sustainable, mixed-use urban communities, both new and existing. His particular interest has focused on Atlanta’s intown neighborhoods and industrial properties that surround the city’s historic rail corridors and the nascent Atlanta BeltLine.
Upon relocating to Atlanta from New Orleans in 1987, Markham Smith and Tom Dalia were immediately drawn to its rail corridors; sunken below the modern street level and populated by underutilized and abandoned industrial properties that penetrated deep into Atlanta’s historic core, both figuratively and actually. Smith Dalia Architects’ (SDA’s) first major project in the BeltLine corridor dates to 1988, and the firm has since worked continually on transforming these places into destinations that support cultural activities, economic development and community identity. To date SDA has designed over 75 projects in the corridor including the King Plow Arts Center, Puritan Mills, Fulton Cotton Mill, the White Provision redevelopment, Piedmont Park renovations, Trees Atlanta Headquarters (one of four LEED Platinum buildings in Georgia), and Smith Dalia’s own home, the Southern Dairies Building, as well as numerous new multi-family projects.
Beginning in 2003, Markham Smith spearheaded the effort to transform one such area into a major urban greenspace, Historic Fourth Ward Park. Located in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward, this 17-acre park’s central lake amenity doubles as a sustainable stormwater detention pond. Markham worked to coalesce a group of developers and community leaders from this once-thriving, historically African- American neighborhood that includes the Martin Luther King National Historic Site. As a result, Historic Fourth Ward Park (H4WP) has become the Atlanta BeltLine’s first new park, winning accolades and an Atlanta Urban Design Commission and ULI award for its innovation and design excellence.
From the early days of his practice as an architect, Markham recognized the importance of understanding architecture and development from a more holistic perspective; both how the numbers work and the potential impact on the surrounding environs. Does the development enhance neighborhood viability, particularly its quality of life and long term economic sustainability? This interest fueled his involvement in several commercial developments as architect, partner and in some cases general manager. Notable among these is the Southern Dairies Building, the redevelopment of an 80K sq. ft. historic dairy products processing plant into creative office environments. Also in the Old Fourth Ward, Southern Dairies remains one of Atlanta’s more successful adaptive use projects, maintaining full occupancy since its completion in 2000 and serving as a catalyst for further revitalization of the Old Fourth Ward.
Smith Dalia’s practice also includes sustainable consulting. Markham is a LEED AP who embraced the USGBC’s LEED system from its earliest days. As the AIA Atlanta Chapter representative, Markham worked with a group assembled by the Southface Energy Institute to draft a new sustainable building ordinance for the City of Atlanta.
Additionally, Markham has long been a supporter of organizations promoting sustainable urbanism, greenspace, natural resource protection and historic preservation. Currently he serves on the boards for the ULI Livable Communities Council, The Georgia Trust for Public Land, the Georgia Conservancy, the Historic Fourth Ward Park Conservancy and the Tulane School of Architecture, and is a past member of the Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation and the Atlanta Preservation Center.
Markham is a graduate of Tulane University with a Bachelor of Architecture and a Master of Architecture from the Tulane School of Architecture, and a Bachelor of Arts from Tulane’s School of Arts and Sciences.