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Coast architect likes hands-on time with projects

The new Salvetti’s Brothers restaurant on U.S. 90

OCEAN SPRINGS — Carl Germany of C. Germany Architects was only nine years old when he first decided that he would like to pursue the profession of architecture. After high school he worked as a welder at Ingalls in Pascagoula for four years before attending Auburn University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture.

Germany, who also has an office in Gulfport, feels the experience at Ingalls was valuable. It was hard work in weather that could be hot or cold or wet. After four years he determined there had to be a better way to make a living.

“I’ve always been impressed by the profession of architects,” Germany said. “I didn’t know much originally. I just knew it had to do with building and designing buildings. The more I learned, the more I liked the profession. There are so many different parts to it. It isn’t just

the way you design a building.”

Germany, who also is in a partnership with Theresa Hassell Jones in the firm New South Architects, PLLC, started his career in architecture in Fort Worth, Texas, where he worked for 13 years for several different architectural firms. It was a great experience doing both large and small projects all over that area of Texas.

Long hours were the norm rather than the exception. After eight hours on the regular job, he often put in another eight hours at night moonlighting doing illustrations for other architects.

In 1993 Germany, a native of Pascagoula, decided it was time to return home to Mississippi. Since then he has stayed busy doing work for government, businesses such as doctor offices and restaurants, churches and private homes.

Because the firm is small, Germany is hands on with all aspects of the business.

“Just to keep everything moving is one of the biggest challenges,” Germany said. “It is easier to delegate in a bigger firm with four or five principals. When you are in a small office you end up being responsible for all the different aspects of the business such as clerical work, marketing, management, estimating. etc.”

One of his most recently completed projects is the new Salvetti’s Brothers restaurant on U.S. 90 in east Ocean Springs. Salvetti’s recently moved from their downtown location into the new building that has an Italian theme. Germany drew on experiences with buildings he had seen in Italy, where he studied one summer. In Italy, often buildings have been built in stages. So what he wanted was a building that looked well established, not brand new, and as though it had been added on to.

The inside of the popular Coast eatery was decorated by the restaurant owners, who brought some furnishings such as murals and lamps from the previous location.

“With the Salvetti’s Brothers project, I was working with a real good group of people,” Germany said. “The brothers developed the interior theme. I needed to back off and let them do it. They picked all the inside colors, and have done a good job decorating it. I would never have been able to do it the way they did it. Everyone who has seen it has been very happy with it. That’s the most important thing: that everybody just be happy.”

With Salvetti’s and his other projects, Germany said he doesn’t design for himself.

“I’m not building monuments to Carl Germany,” he said. “That’s not what I do.”

A current project not far from Salvetti’s is the Gulf Coast Eye Center on U.S. 90. Germany had previously designed an office for the business in Pascagoula. Dr. Frank Rawlings said he wants the building to have good visibility, and “looks like it belongs in Ocean Springs.”

Germany’s design has several white two-story towers that will include two-foot-high street numbers to make the offices easy to find. The result is both practical — it will be easy to tell patients how to find the office — and attractive.

With plans that have been drawn up for the Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Vancleave, the surroundings were also critical to the design plans. The design uses exposed wood trusses to give the feel of a spacious church in the woods.

“I design differently for Vancleave than I would for a building on the beach in Biloxi,” Germany said.

Another recent project is the Shell Landing Clubhouse in Gautier. The owners wanted a traditional-looking building, and response to the completed structure has been good.

Like most areas of the country, the Coast has experienced a downturn in the economy and it has affected construction and architecture. Part of the slowdown in construction is simply the casino industry coming of age. When the industry first came to the Coast, there was a building boom that lasted for most of the 1990s.

The casinos brought in more employees, which created greater housing demand and then demand for restaurants, stores and service industries.

Now the casino-sparked growth cycle has peaked. The area surrounding the new Nissan plant in Canton will go through a similar growth cycle.

Germany expects construction to pick back up again by the spring, and is continuing to stay busy with projects such as the restoration of and an addition to the Mary C. O’Keefe Culture Center, previously the old Ocean Springs Public School on Government Street. Construction work should begin by first of the year.

“Government agencies are good clients to have especially when times are slow,” Germany said.

Germany generally finds his work very satisfying, but he does have one pet peeve. He believes people need to do better maintenance of buildings.

“Some people think they can just walk away from a building after it is built and not do anything for 30 years,” Germany said. “It is important to do regular maintenance, or you can end up with more costly repairs down the road.”

Although Germany has many years of experience in architecture, he continues to enjoy the challenge of each new project, and hopes to continue to contribute for many years to come.

Contact MBJ staff writer Becky Gillette at mullein@datasync.com or (228) 872-3457.


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