“It chose me.”
This is Robert “Buz” Morris’ answer when asked how he got into the construction and architecture business.
Morris has been building and renovating homes and structures for over two decades. Along with a team of handpicked experts, he always ensures quality during each step of the process.
“The sense of fulfillment I get from working with clients and bringing their visions to life and the pride I have in providing the highest quality to my clients—in craftsmanship and in everything that goes into a project—has always been a priority with me,” Morris says.
According to Morris, it’s not just the practical tasks that get jobs done correctly, within budget and on time, it’s also the people who manage those tasks. Tripp Evans, director of operations for Morris Construction, has earned the highest project management certifications in the industry and managed several multimillion dollar projects throughout the Southeast. He works closely with Morris to help him achieve excellence. Evans says: “Working with a smaller volume of clients means we can consistently deliver high quality. We are constantly evaluating our business processes and keeping our finger on the pulse of construction trends in the Lowcountry.”
Morris began his career as a builder in the 1990s. Early on, he interned with Charles Gwathmey of Gwathmey Siegel and Associates Architects in New York City and helped design some of the city’s most iconic buildings and homes. His experiences gave him an appreciation for both classical and modern design.
“Modern architecture has gone in many directions,” Morris says. “But we take great pride in staying true to the history and design of the older homes in the Charleston area and giving them a second or third life.”
When renovating older homes, Morris and Evans normally look over the design plans that their clients bring to them. A benefit of working with Morris Construction is that the team is very familiar with downtown homes and often knows the house, its history and how it was constructed.
Since the company can draw on the talents of many top subcontractors, craftsmen and artisans in the area, it can offer customers—both local and, increasingly, out-of-state—a range of styles, product choices and budgets. Morris says: “Every bit of the cost of a project is shared with our clients. They see the work being done, step by step, and it puts them at ease.”
Morris’ work ranges from very large homes to small, historic properties. Among his many projects, one that he’s particularly proud of is his company’s renovation of a 1,700-square-foot penthouse apartment in a historic Charleston building on Broad Street. With open minds but no distinct vision, the owners hired him to do the design work and complete the construction. Since the existing interior was of no historical value, he had considerable freedom to rework the space.
Picking up on the simplicity of an original beadboard ceiling and the apartment’s massive windows, Morris designed a pied-à-terre with an upbeat, modern personality that in no way competes with its historical underpinnings. The space now consists of one bedroom and bath, an open kitchen and a formal dining room where the owners can entertain.
Morris’ creative open floor plan resulted in spaces that are much better integrated than the old ones. Rooms flow from one into another, while long, narrow transom windows that top interior walls admit an abundance of natural light.
The renovation was an instant hit with the owners.
For Morris, developing a vision for projects, guiding construction to completion and pleasing clients is his life’s work—a career that has given him great satisfaction.
Lauren Price is a full-time writer who lives near Charleston.