SDG Associates, LLC, formerly Sims-Varner & Associates, is a comprehensive and diversified architecture, planning and program management firm with nearly 50 years of leadership and design experience. Headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, SDG has designed some of the most recognizable structures in the city. Markets we serve include: Civic, Cultural, Education (K-12 and College and University), Infrastructure and Transportation, Corporate, Hospitality and Parking.


In 1964, Howard F. Sims founded Sims and Associates in Detroit. In the 1970s, the firm became Sims-Varner& Associates when Harold Varner was named a principal. Now known as SDG Associates, the firm continues the tradition of excellence in architecture and service.

Notable Works

  • Cobo Conference and Exhibition Center 1981-89 Expansion and 2010-2015 Capital Improvements Program
  • Charles Wright Museum of African American History
  • University of Michigan School of Social Work
  • University of Michigan-Dearborn General Campus Renovation
  • George Bush Intercontinental Airport International Arrivals Building (with PGAL – SDG’s schematic design and FIS planning)
  • Detroit Wayne County Port Authority Terminal (Program Manager)
  • Greektown Casino (part of a collaborative team)
  • Detroit Historical Museum Renovations and Master Plan

Major Clients

  • General Motors Corporation
  • Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority
  • Detroit Building Authority
  • University of Michigan
  • Detroit Wayne County Airport Authority

Sustainability and Energy-Efficient Design

SDG worked with the American Institute of Architects Research Corporation and the United States Department of Energy to establish national energy usage targets for K-12 schools. An early adapter of energy modeling, SDG developed theoretical designs and analyzed them for annual energy usage. The concepts were so successful in saving energy that the Detroit Public Schools challenged SDG to provide real-world results.

That challenge resulted in the design of the 100,000 SF McMichael Middle School (link to McMichael Middle School). The project was monitored for over a year and realized energy savings in excess of 50% of the energy usage of the then traditional school design.