Corporate Scene

Garvin Design Group

1209 Lincoln Street

Columbia, SC 29201

Phone: 803.212.1032

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Scott Garvin

Few business owners operating in Columbia’s Vista arts and entertainment district today remember the way it felt on a weekday afternoon in 2003.

“It was pretty quiet down here when we first moved into 1215 Lincoln St.,” says Scott Garvin, founder and president of architecture, interiors, and planning firm Garvin Design Group. “My business partners and I never needed to worry about making reservations for lunch. We didn’t have many places to choose from, but we could always find a parking place on the street — no one was here!”

Twenty years later, Vista sidewalks — and their firm — are buzzing with activity. Now 20 teammates strong, Garvin Design Group has grown up alongside the neighborhood. The Vista’s increasing vitality plays a key role in Garvin Design Group’s recruiting pitch to new designers. The firm touts its studio location in the heart of the district within walking distance of so many galleries, coffee shops, restaurants, and apartments.

And that relationship is reciprocal: Scott has played no small part in making the Vista what it is today. As a graduate student at Clemson, Scott’s master’s thesis focused on how Columbia’s Vista and Innovista districts could catalyze widespread city revitalization. Scott chose the Vista’s historic AIS building as both his first development project and the home of his fledgling architectural firm. He helped recruit national brands like Starbucks and Cava to the Vista, spurring additional interest from hospitality, retail, and arts tenants. Scott went on to rehabilitate other historic Vista buildings, including City Market and Gadsden Place, creating new destinations to live, work, and play within the city’s urban core.

“It’s amazing to me how different the Vista looks today than it did when we first opened our firm on Lincoln Street,” Scott says. “When we invite new folks into our office now, we can give them directions based on the thriving business around us. And we can host our office happy hour in a different location each month and walk there from our studio. The Vista has always been and continues to be a vital component of our team culture.”