Charles W. Clary III, FAIA
When Charlie took drafting in high school, he just knew that he had found his skill and passion. Little did he know that those three years of high school drafting would influence a career and a lifetime of achievement. After graduating high school, he went on to serve in the US Navy aboard the submarines, USS Amberjack, and the USS Triante. This afforded him the unique opportunity to visit many foreign countries in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean region; and in every city he visited, architecture was the main attraction. After his military service, Charlie attended Auburn University and graduated in 1977 with a Bachelor of Architecture degree. The country had just begun to come out of a recession and Charlie began his work with R.R. Moore Architects where he had interned while in college.
It was there that Charlie was introduced to resort development and he soon returned to his native Destin to follow his dream. The first office was a two-bedroom condominium on Holiday Isle. His first client was a charter boat captain, who paid handsomely with two cases of beer and some fish. “I knew that fees would come as I gained experience, developed contacts, and built a reputation,” reflects Charlie. After a year with R.R. Moore, he moved into a real office located behind the Chamber of Commerce in Destin. At that point, the young intern was producing nearly seventy schematic designs a year. In 1980 Charlie met another architect, Sam Blimling, and a year later they formed Destin Architectural Group.
As the firm grew, so did its reputation for designing projects that came in on time and on budget. With that growth, Charlie saw first-hand how politics would often play a part in architects being selected for public projects. His natural inquisitiveness led him to serve on a city council and then serve in the Florida State Senate for ten years. As in his business, Charlie gained a reputation for being straightforward, diligent, and very personable. Today, Charlie’s persona spans the firm as demonstrated by every team member at DAG.
In 2000, Charlie was admitted to the AIA College of Fellows. Architects who have made significant contributions to the profession and society and who exemplify architectural excellence are admitted. Currently, only 3 percent of the AIA members have this distinction. As a result of his leadership and guidance, DAG has been awarded the Florida AIA Firm of the Year twice, in 2007 and again in 2020.
Charlie has led DAG to become the largest design firm in Northwest Florida serving clients out of offices in Destin, Panama City, Pensacola, Tallahassee and now Atlanta, Georgia. Charlie continues to be involved in a number of civic, cultural, and governmental organizations across the state.