Talking Practice: Mack Scogin and Merrill Elam

Photo of Merrill Elam and Mack Scogin with an architectural models around them

Photo by Andrew Thomas Lee

In this episode of Talking Practice, host Grace La interviews Mack Scogin and Merrill Elam, principals and co-founders of Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects in Atlanta, Georgia.

Shortly after their studies, Mack and Merrill began their professional careers at Heery and Heery in Atlanta, Georgia, where the duo developed a deep appreciation for the productive nature of diversity and a pioneering knowledge of project management. Merrill’s MBA background further enabled her to speak the language of business, a skill that later proved vital when they began their independent practice. Recounting early projects such as the Morrow Branch Library, the Clayton County Headquarters Library, and a factory building for Herman Miller, Mack and Merrill articulate their understanding of architecture as responsive to the people and contexts it serves. Finally, reflecting on the state of architectural education today, Mack and Merrill share their excitement about the entangled conditions of our time and underscore the importance of using computation intelligently.

For more on the practice of Mack Scogin Merril Elam Architects, check out Harvard Design Magazine no. 48, America.


Black and white headshots of Mack Scogin and Merrill Elam
Photos by Rubi Xu

Mack Scogin and Merrill Elam are principals at Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects in Atlanta, Georgia. With over forty years of experience, Mack and Merrill have completed a wide variety of projects including single-family residences, public libraries, university dormitories, and, most recently, a federal courthouse in Austin, TX. Their work has received over fifty awards, including six national AIA Awards of Excellence, and has been featured in international publications and museum exhibitions. From 1990 – 1995, Mack served as the chairman of the department of architecture at the GSD, and is the Kajima Professor in Practice of Architecture, Emeritus.


About the Show

Developed by Harvard Graduate School of Design, Talking Practice is the first podcast series to feature in-depth interviews with leading designers on the ways in which architects, landscape architects, designers, and planners articulate design imagination through practice. Hosted by Grace La, Professor of Architecture and Principal of LA DALLMAN, these dynamic conversations provide a rare glimpse into the work, experiences, and attitudes of design practitioners from around the world. Comprehensive, thought-provoking, and timely, Talking Practice tells the story of what designers do, why, and how they do it—exploring the key issues at stake in practice today.

About the Host

Black and White photo of Grace La

Grace La is Professor of Architecture, Chair of the Practice Platform, and former Director of the Master of Architecture Programs at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. She is also Principal of LA DALLMAN Architects, internationally recognized for the integration of architecture, engineering and landscape. Cofounded with James Dallman, LA DALLMAN is engaged in catalytic projects of diverse scale and type. The practice is noted for works that expand the architect’s agency in the civic recalibration of infrastructure, public space and challenging sites.

Show Credits

Talking Practice is produced and edited by Maggie Janik. Our Research Assistants are John Wang and Reuben Zeiset.


For all inquiries, please email [email protected].