By Billy Corriher
Local architect S.N. Parti can add an interesting bullet point to his r?sum? n he built Noah's Ark. Not the original of course, but a scaled down version that houses the Noah's Ark Daycare and Learning Center in McDonough.
"Since Noah, no one I know of has built one. I'm the first one in Georgia at least," Parti said.
And though the Bible says it took Noah 120 years to build his ark, Parti said it took him 10 months to build the smaller version, and he had to deal with some obstacles Noah didn't have to face.
"Noah did not have any problems with building codes," he said.
Parti built the daycare center two years ago for the Living Word Worship Center and only charged the church for building expenses.
"When you work on such a project, you're not doing it for the money," he said.
Parti designed the inside of the Ark with colorful paintings of pairs of animals, and the halls have cubbyholes for pairs of stuffed animals. "Two at a time please," reads a sign that greets children as they enter the school.
Parti, a polite, soft-spoken man, lights up when he points out how much the children enjoy the Ark.
"They like it so much, they don't want to go home," he said.
Engineer George Pidgeon was a member of the church and worked with Parti on the project.
"The pastor had a vision of the ark and he brought it to fruition," Pidgeon said. "He's an incredible man, a real giver."
Pidgeon said he was also impressed with Parti's ability to work through problems and keep the price of construction low for the church.
"The way he was able to save money and get creative was really amazing," he said.
Parti started work on the ark right before he retired from Parti and Associates, his architectural firm in Jonesboro.
Since starting his firm in 1984, Parti said he has designed many homes and government buildings, but he said Noah's Ark is one of the proudest accomplishments of his professional career.
"As an architect, you always work to create something unique," he said. "God has been kind to me, so this is a way I give back."
Parti is a Hindu, but he enjoys helping out any church that asks him for assistance.
"I'm pretty open-minded when it comes to religion," he said.
Parti brought his religious beliefs with him when he immigrated to America from New Delhi, India, in 1968. He worked as a designer and builder for national architectural firms in the Midwest before 1984, when he moved to Jonesboro.
Parti said America has been a good place for him and his wife, Ramni, to raise their son, Naveen, and their daughter, Shabnum, who are both doctors.
"It's nice to be here," he said. "There's no way I could have built a Noah's Ark back in New Delhi."
Parti said he's grateful for the opportunities his family was presented with in America.
"We've had a good life here," he said. "We are Americans."
With all the blessings he's received, Parti said he wants nothing more than to give back. So after he finished the Noah's Ark project, Parti also started working with Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity. With his expertise, Habitat can build more comfortable, energy-efficient homes.
"I save them money through design," Parti said. The latest home he designed for Habitat, in the Faith Park community in College Park, features better insulated windows and exterior paint that never needs to be replaced.
"Everything is kind of permanent," he said.
The home has three bedrooms along a back hallway and a large kitchen.
"You see the whole thing wide open with lots of windows," he said. "It's rather upscale really."
Parti is also showing Habitat how to build homes for less, with his Faith Park home costing 12 percent less to build than comparable Habitat homes.
Brenda Rayburn, executive director of Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity, said that with the cost of building materials going up, her organization would have been forced to build one less house in every eight-house project.
"That means that in every project, one more family will get a house because of (Parti's) efforts to save us money," she said.
Rayburn said Parti also offers expertise with negotiating for building supplies.
"He's very quiet, but he's a hard negotiator," she said.
Rayburn said Parti's efforts have helped Habitat immensely.
"If we were paying somebody, I have no idea what it would cost," she said. "He just seems to have a real passion for helping people save money."