For almost two decades, the names Rainy Hamilton, Jr. and Kent Anderson have been synonymous with the elevation of Hamilton Anderson Associates (HAA), one of the nation’s most intriguing and progressive architectural firms. As co-founders and principals of the downtown Detroit firm, they have given leadership to the rendering of services in architecture, landscape architecture, planning, interior design and urban design.
Detroiters don’t have to look far to see the firm’s prolific work. A short list of the company’s many Motor City projects includes MGM Grand Detroit, Greektown Casino, Detroit School of Arts High School, Wayne State University’s Queen Lillian Medical Offices and Welcome Center, the new Mumford High School, Youthville Child Development Center, Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority Public Dock and Terminal, Wayne County Metro Airport’s North Terminal, and the Washington Blvd. Streetscape transformation. The firm is also the strategic framework planner for the Detroit Future City project, a massive blueprint initiative that advises city stakeholders on how the Motor City will look in the future on many levels.
In addition to its multitude of projects in Detroit and other parts of Michigan, HAA has established offices in New Orleans, Louisiana and Nevada. Projects in New Orleans include the famous Louis Armstrong Park Congo Square and the renovation of the historic Booker T. Washington High School; projects in Las Vegas include MGM Resorts International CityCenter (mixed use development). HAA is also working on a renovation project for a major hotel chain in Utah. Internationally speaking, HAA’s planning and design projects have included the PI River Water Front in Lu’an City, Anhui, China. The company has also rendered services in Dubai, and is currently looking to do work in Africa.
While other architecture firms offer somewhat similar services, the one-two punch of Hamilton and Anderson brings a unique blend of creative juices, outside-the-box designs, and the ability to deliver the “wow” factor to every project.
HAA, one of the nation’s largest African-American owned architectural firms, is known to consistently deliver high-quality services that exceed other industry firms owned by members of other ethnicities.
Hamilton explained the company’s uniqueness: “The combination of architecture and landscape architecture services offered under one roof makes us unique. We look at those two primary disciplines as leading any design efforts. We just don’t look at designing a building, but look at it holistically. We zoom out to see how our projects can fit into the surrounding community and environment.”
A native of Detroit, Hamilton recalled his early days as a youth when he fell in love with drawing, painting, science, drafting and building model structures. As he grew older, he realized that becoming an architect would be his life’s work. After graduating from Cass Technical High School, he attended the University of Detroit-Mercy where he earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture. After working for an architecture firm for 12 years, where he met Anderson, the two decided that they would venture out on their own. Thus, Hamilton Anderson Associates was born in 1994.
Anderson, who hails from the Upper Peninsula, has been called a landscape architect extraordinaire. He is a graduate of Michigan State University’s Department of Landscape Architecture and has received several awards for his professional work. Anderson was a key reason why in 2007, HAA was the recipient of the inaugural Firm of the Year Award, given by the Michigan Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.
Hamilton is also extraordinary in his field of expertise, and is highly regarded among his peers. He is an active member of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), and has served as the local chapter’s president. In addition, he has won the organization’s most prestigious National Building Design Award for the last four years. In the early 2000s, he served as president of the Detroit Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, making him the first African-American to serve in that high-level position.
Hamilton summarizes the synergy between himself and Anderson: “Our diversity in background, education and professional experience is blended with solid experience when working on projects ranging from small scale city parks, to technologically sophisticated new arts high schools, regional master plans and multibillion dollar urban design plans. We are not specialists, but believers in the merit of well-informed, broad professional experience – that when brought together – will form the basis of superior design.”
For Hamilton Anderson Associates and its 60-plus employees, the beat goes on. Hamilton said that regardless of how fast the firm grows, and how many markets the company expands to, HAA will not abandon Detroit.
“We are happy that we have helped lay the foundation for Detroit’s growth,” said Hamilton, who is a lifetime Detroit resident. “I think in five years, you won’t recognize Detroit because of the growth and transformation it will have undergone. I know that Hamilton Anderson Associates plans to be here to be a part of the city’s exciting future. We are not going anywhere.”