College of Architecture, Art and Construction

Endowment and challenge to honor the legacy of architect Joe Pazdan


Joe Pazdan, ’82, a South Carolina architecture community legend, is being honored by his former partners with the establishment of an endowment — and a challenge — in his name for the Clemson University School of Architecture.

Brad Smith, Founding Principal and Chad Cousins, CEO of McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture, partnered with the School of Architecture to establish the Joseph M. Pazdan Endowment with an initial gift of $50,000. Pazdan, one of the firm’s founders, passed away in April 2023 after a battle with cancer.

“Joe believed that ‘architects must be good stewards of the influence they have on their cities and communities,’” Smith said.  “It was a mission that he championed his entire career as a leader who always worked to build connections, collaborations and value in the greater community.”

Pazdan was a two-time Clemson graduate, earning a B.S. in design in 1982 and a B.S. in. construction science in 1983. He remained an engaged alumni throughout his life, serving on the Clemson University Board of Visitors and the Master of Real Estate Development advisory board. In 1993, he and Brad Smith founded the design firm Pazdan Smith Group, which later expanded to become McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture with more than 300 professionals and eight offices in the Southeast.

We have not only an opportunity but a responsibility to make a positive impact on quality of life — for our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers and for the next generation.

Joe Pazdan, Founding Principal, McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture

In addition to the initial gift of $50,000, McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture challenged the Clemson design and build community to continue giving to the endowment fund, promising to match every new donation up to $50,000. Also, Clemson alumni Bob and Kaye Stanzione agreed to match an additional $50,000 in honor of their long friendship with the Pazdan family, bringing the challenge to a total of $100,000. If the challenge is successfully funded, the effort will raise a minimum of $250,000 for the endowment.

The fund has been established to support scholarships for underrepresented students in architecture. Smith noted that Pazdan’s legacy lives on not only through his design and planning work but also through his mentorship of younger architects. The gift perpetuates Pazdan’s efforts to diversify the profession and expand architecture’s footprint for all communities, causes he was passionate about throughout his life.

“We’re proud to announce this endowment as an important initiative aligned with his belief that ‘we have not only an opportunity but a responsibility to make a positive impact on quality of life — for our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers and for the next generation,’” Smith said.

How to donate

A painting that hung in Joe Pazdan's home office.

Friends of Joe Pazdan and of the School of Architecture can contribute to the endowment by contacting Amy Vogelgesang, director of development for the College of Architecture, Art and Construction, at or by calling 847-529-5714. They can also give by clicking here.

Anyone who donates $2,500 or more to the endowment will receive a print of a painting by artist Charlie Pate of Genoa, Italy as viewed from the roof of the Charles E. Daniel Center for Building Research and Urban Studies as a daily reminder of the special place where so many architects who studied at the Clemson School of Architecture find inspiration and make life-long memories. The prints will be professional three-fourth-sized reproductions of the original painting that Joe Pazdan had commissioned for his home office. 

The endowment was announced to Pazdan’s family and friends at a surprise reception at the McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture offices in Greenville on November 13.

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