Beard + Riser Architects recently received three out of six 2017 American Institute of Architects Mississippi Chapter Awards, and firm partner Dale Riser says he is proud. 

“The recognition by your peers is nice, and particularly because we are a design-oriented firm,” said Riser in an email.

For the design of the Greenwood Police Department headquarters and Municipal Court renovations on Main Street, Beard + Riser received a 2017 American Institute of Architects Mississippi Chapter Merit Award.

The original 13,500-square-foot police headquarters was built in the 1970s. The current facility measures 15,000 square feet.

Riser said the firm selects projects with potential to be redesigned into better structures.

“Obviously working on a police and court building in your town is something that was exciting for us — meaningful in that those people put their lives on the line for our protection every day,” Riser said. “It made us really want to give them a place to work that they could be proud of and feel good about.”

John Beard, firm partner, and Riser were ap-proached in 2011 by Mayor Carolyn McAd-ams to work on the project. Afterward, the duo began a feasibility study to determine existing conditions and how to rearrange the building and costs for their designs.

The cost for the renovation and design was about $3.3 million. Their contractor for the project was Kenneth Thompson Builder.

Although the design took a year and a half, the entire project was not finished until May of this year.

The former police headquarters lacked modern technology, space utilization and access that a modern station needed, Riser said.

One priority in designing the headquarters was organizing the space plan. Much of the old headquarters went unused, including the upstairs jail, which had not been occupied in years. With Beard + Riser’s design, the former jail and interior space were renovated into a training room, a conference room, a records room, a break room and offices plus a 2,000-square-foot addition.

Before the renovation, the building housed too-small offices and was not enough to accommodate a growing staff, Riser said.

Although the building was deemed outdated, the architects wanted to maintain the mid-century modern style of the structure because of its unique and historic look, he said. The building also received modern mechanical and electrical systems that are more energy- and cost-efficient.

For the Rail Spike Park Pavilion, the firm won the 2017 American Institute of Architects Mississippi Chapter Honor Award — the highest honor — and beat out several multimillion-dollar projects, Riser said.

It also won the 2017 American Institute of Architects Mississippi Chapter Sambo Mockbee Membership Award. Beard worked under Mockbee in his early years as an architect.

“That’s particularly meaningful because Sambo Mockbee is one of the architects our firm has somewhat patterned ourselves after — the quintessential Mississippi architect,” Riser said.

Riser said they knew early on how they wanted the pavilion to look, and the Greenwood City Council stayed very involved throughout the planning process.

“Councilman Ronnie Stevenson was explicit in one conversation we had at an early planning meeting about wanting to have something at that location that ‘announced’ Greenwood,” Riser said. “Unique to Greenwood, so everyone would know ‘you’re here.’’’

The pavilion was part of a larger project that included converting a railroad into a trail.

As a whole, the project was funded through a grant with the Mississippi Department of Transportation and took several years. The total cost was $335,000.

Riser said the design was modern and utilitarian but something the city and the Delta would identify with.

“It became a sort of hybrid of farm buildings, tractor sheds, cotton gins — and the roof form evolved as a butterfly roof to basically feed rainwater down into a cistern,” he said.

Beard + Riser collaborated with other firms such as LandDesign of Charlotte, North Carolina, and W.L. Burle Engineers during the construction phase, and Malouf Construction as the contractor. Their goal was to design a structure that would be usable for a variety of functions including the Downtown Greenwood Farmers Market.

Riser said he has enjoyed seeing the pavilion being used and having an impact on the corner.

“It’s nice to do work that people actually truly appreciate and are so positive about,” he said.

Beard + Riser Architects celebrated its 10-year anniversary in March. Beard continues to work in the Greenwood office, and Riser is in the Oxford office.

The two men met in Greenwood while Beard was doing work for Viking Range and Riser for The Johnson-McAdams firm.

“We sort of kept finding ourselves in the same circles, so one day we had lunch and it sort of just happened from there,” Riser said.

The firm is very collaborative in problem-solving and listening to the needs of its clients.

“John and I personally just have very good chemistry. It makes us very good partners,” Riser said. “We continually bounce things off of each other and are always forward thinking in how we approach the work we do, where our firm is going, (and) how we are going to get there.”

Contact Lauren Randall at 581-7239 or

The original version of this article incorrectly said that John Beard had formerly worked for The Johnson-McAdams firm. It was Dale Riser who did.

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