Photo by Rebecca McAlpin

Jim Tinson


“Some of the most sustainable buildings in the world have been around for hundreds of years, if not longer,” says Jim Tinson, leader of the architectural services firm Hart Howerton. “They’re ones that were sited in concert with their environments and natural ecology.”

Similarly, his firm—which began nearly 50 years ago with the development of Walt Disney World in Florida and its related communities—applies an environmental consciousness to its large-scale, often high-end, residential and hospitality projects. For example, Hart Howerton oversaw Palmetto Bluff, an 18,000-acre resort community on a barrier island in South Carolina composed of villas and cottages, golf courses and a new Montage hotel, that’s known for its eco sensitivity.

“The most critical piece of a sustainable environment is not what you do to it after you design it, but how you first think about the site and location,” says Tinson, whose company coordinates the architecture, landscaping, design and planning of its projects. Hart Howerton buildings are faithful to local history and culture, and the landscaping is created with native species to avoid disrupting the natural ecosystem. During Tinson’s seven-year stint as CEO, San Francisco– and New York–based Hart Howerton has spearheaded projects across six continents and 51 countries. Its work is “about creating healthy environments for your body and mind. That overlaps with sustainability,” Tinson says. “We’ve been able to grow as a result of that.”